Making school a second home

6th July 2001 at 01:00
Matron Haileybury, Hertford

Matron is a word calculated to strike a chord with any Tristram, Nigel or Crispin. She's either an all-enveloping mother figure or a hatchet-faced sadist; at one incarnation Hattie Jacques, the next Rosa Klebb; one minute dispensing soothing cough mixture, the next confiscating teddies.

Haileybury, an independent secondary which takes about 600 day pupils and a few boarders, is looking for someone with warmth and enthusiasm to undertake supervisory duties in the lower school boarding house. The successful applicant will have up to 24 boys and girls to look after.

Fees at the Hertford school are around pound;4,000 - that's per term, for anyone imagining that it sounded remarkably cheap. For that amount of money there is, presumably, a really smart outfit to wear. But does a matron have to be a gel? Admittedly there could be problems appointing a man, not least with the bonnet, but there are male nurses after all.

It is comforting that the independent sector has resisted all the possible aliases: houseparent, pastoral care manager, junior residents' lifestyle coach, that sort of political correctness. Matron is so much more I evocative.

So, how has the role developed in the 21st century? Does the modern matron still use cod liver oil or does tender loving care nowadays take the form of aromatherapy and personal counselling? What kind of training is expected? Is there a bedtime NVQ with performance criteria for story reading?

Applicants who would like to find out should telephone the school on 01992 706204.

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