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Q&A with BGS Assistant Director of Boarding and Head of Harlin House Tim Fulton

What does your role involve, and what do you enjoy about your role?

My role as Assistant Director of Boarding and Head of Harlin House is to develop and deliver a Boarding program for over 80 current boarders that enhances their pastoral care, wellbeing and academic progress.

I get to know each student on an individual level and love watching them grow and develop on a daily basis. I share their successes and help them overcome the challenges that help shape the young men they become.

The trust and support from our boarding families has been one of this role's most rewarding parts, along with providing seamless experiences between the day and boarding communities.

I am honoured to have the shared responsibility of ensuring our boys are safe and have a positive experience throughout their boarding journey.

My role also extends to many other areas: managing staffing and their professional development; providing a unique and diverse activities program; maintaining daily systems and routines; and organising transport to ensure our boys get to all the varied cocurricular activities throughout the week and on weekends.

 

Why were you inspired to work in Boarding?

I started working in BGS Boarding in 2021 after teaching many boarders in my BGS classrooms for four years. I was inspired to work in boarding after seeing the opportunity to play a more significant role in boarders’ development as resilient, respectful and confident young men.

I became a teacher to be a part of a community, and boarding provides a unique opportunity to get to know our boys and their families on a much deeper level.

While it is very demanding, it is incredibly rewarding. I have never had so much contact with families, and my encounters reinforce the honour I have in leading a program designed to help boys achieve their potential.

 

How do you identify concerns among boys and ensure they feel supported?

We have several ways to monitor the boarders’ wellbeing and ensure their social and emotional health and wellbeing are supported.

Leaders of the Boarding program meet regularly with all Head of Years and other members of the Student Wellbeing Team to discuss the boarders in their year group.

We also engage with cocurricular, BGS Health Centre staff and program leaders to see what support our boarders may need and utilise the Student Wellbeing Register to monitor any particular concerns in partnership with teachers and staff.

Boys have weekly discussions with their allocated House Family staff to check in and monitor progress against the goals they set each term, and regularly reach out to home to share any updates. We survey boys regularly, sometimes anonymously, seek feedback at house and year level meetings and ensure our door remains open throughout the day.

It is natural for boys living away from their families to experience periods of challenge and emotional fluctuations. Our job is to create a caring community that, through significant investment in relationships, helps identify concerns and support boys through their own challenges, helping them succeed and achieve their best.

 

How do you create a supportive environment where each boy is safe and happy, is valued as an individual, and is encouraged to achieve his best?

In order to create a supportive environment for each boy in boarding, we have worked incredibly hard to develop a staffing model with a range of skills and personal qualities that mirror the diversity of our boarders.

Our staffing model has been designed around our House Families, which aims to foster a greater sense of belonging and connection across year levels. A residential staff and boarding tutor, who is also part of day school staff, is assigned to each of our eight House Families to support a mix of boys across Years 6 to 12.

We have a formal dinner each week where boys enjoy a meal with their House Family and play games or sports with their families to help form lifelong friendships. A diverse and varied activities program also allows boys to pursue a range of interests, develop a broader social network and utilise the unique opportunity they have in boarding.

We are fortunate to have incredible BGS Health Centre staff who genuinely care about the boys – their role is critical to helping each boy achieve his best. They are a dedicated, selfless team that goes above and beyond to make our boys feel safe and cared for.

 

What is the best advice you have for students?

My best advice is to get involved, embrace the diversity of BGS Boarding and recognise the unique opportunity you have been afforded.

We want our boarders to graduate and genuinely look back and be proud of what they have achieved, what they have tried and how they were willing to take on challenges and have a go.

To do this, we encourage boys to identify at least one cocurricular pursuit each term to balance the pressures of academics, build social support networks and get involved in the School.

 

If you had to name one thing that sets BGS apart from other schools, what would it be?

I have been absolutely blown away by the genuine and authentic leadership shown by our 2022 Captain and Vice Captain of Boarding, Sam Siganto and Finnian Beck-Veldman. They are a great example of what sets our community apart from other schools.

While heavily involved in the Cocurricular program, these boys set an example by committing wholeheartedly to their academic pursuits, yet still find the time to act selflessly in supporting their peers.

They invest time to counsel new boarders struggling with the adjustment to life on campus, drive house challenges, run assemblies and give back so much to their peers by wanting to leave a legacy of brotherhood and mateship.

For me, being surrounded by boys that care for one another and spend so much time supporting each other is a unique culture that we fiercely protect and value in BGS Boarding.

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