We chat with a recent graduate of Wenona School and her family about boarding in Australia. Why did they choose this particular boarding school in Sydney, and what can they recommend for other parents considering boarding school?
A Parent’s Perspective – Robert Subbaraman
What brought your family to Singapore?
I’m half Australian and half Indian; my wife Reiko is Japanese, and we met in the UK. We moved to Singapore seven years ago for my work, and we’ve also lived in Hong Kong for eight years, and Tokyo too.
What made you decide on boarding school in Sydney for Jessica?
We applied for our three daughters to attend Wenona School as day girls a long time ago, as our plan was to move back to Sydney – we just haven’t found the right time to repatriate yet. Jessica approached Reiko and me about wanting to board. I boarded at Scots College and loved it, but it doesn’t suit everyone. Jessica is sociable and loves sport. At that time though, she was quite disorganised; so we thought boarding school could work! We weren’t entirely sure, but there are times when you need to trust and support your child’s choice.
We’ve always wanted our girls to believe in themselves, to be ambitious and to understand that it’s okay to fail – that’s part of life. Wenona shares a similar vision, led by the amazing Principal, Dr Briony Scott. This was reinforced on our first visit – it felt like one big family. We also wanted our daughters to establish some roots Down Under.
What was it like for you having Jessica board at Wenona?
The worst part was missing Jessica when she started in Year 10. However, we were able to communicate daily – so different from my boarding school experience, when we had one hour a week to write to our parents! Still, not being able to watch her netball games or be there when she needed a shoulder to lean on was tough.
On the plus side, Jessica blossomed. She made lifelong friends, she became independent and yes, more organised! Most importantly, boarding taught her to tolerate all types of people. In Year 12 she became Boarding Prefect, and Reiko and I were very proud.
A Student’s Perspective – Jessica Subbaraman, Class Of 2019
Tell us about the Wenona boarding culture.
The culture is shaped by the various personalities and backgrounds of the girls. They’re kind, supportive and genuine. The small cohort of 50 made us a close-knit community – a family – and provided us with friendships across all age groups. The relationships I made while boarding at Wenona will last far beyond school.
How were you supported at Wenona to reach your goals?
I was supported in all aspects of school life. Dr Scott continuously reminded us about the importance of kindness. In her words, “Everyone is fighting a battle of their own.” The school created an environment that enabled us to grow and develop into adults, while celebrating our individuality.
The teachers did more than teach; they were approachable and caring, going above and beyond to provide support and advice. The older girls at Wenona were great role models, and the Class of 2019 was a very inclusive group, which helped enormously in boosting my confidence.
What are your plans now that you’ve left Wenona?
I’m currently on my gap year. COVID-19 has altered my plans to work at the Tokyo Olympics and teach English in Zambia and Fiji. So I completed a CELTA English teaching course at the British Council and am currently teaching English online. I’m also taking two online university courses and plan to attend ANU in Canberra in 2021.