An interview with Nick Maynard, Boarding House Assistant…
One question we get asked a lot is: what is it like to LIVE at school?!
Nick Maynard is House Assistant and Deputy for Millgate House, one of our boarding houses, since 2021. We spoke to Nick about his unique job, what the challenges are as well as the best bits, and we asked him what his advice is for new students coming to board at school.
What is regular working day like for you?
Gosh – it’s full on! We wake the students at 7am – register at breakfast – dorm checks – post run – input registers – deal with requests and questions from academic and musical staff – more registers – follow up on any issues or concerns – more registering – activities in the evening with clubs and events – more registering – supervised prep – supper tray supervision – heads on beds – lights out… 17 hours flies by! People don’t realise how full on this job is, but it’s incredibly rewarding.
What is it about the job that you love?
At first it was difficult making the transition from being a teacher to house staff [that was about seven years ago] because the students respond to you in a totally different way, but I absolutely love the spontaneity of it. I used to develop PSHE for Sixth Form and was a Mentor and Life Coach, and it’s those aspect that make this job. One day you’re dealing with a student who misses home 3,000 miles away and the next you’re dealing with someone who has decided it’s a good idea to eat glue or cut his hair off with a spoon… that last one is made up – but at a previous school three boys decided to cut their own hair in a toilet and the Headmaster went nuts! They looked like The Three Stooges [Curly, Larry and Mo]… It keeps you on your toes. Chetham’s is unique. I’ve worked at some of the biggest educational establishments in the UK and this is the most chaotic in the best possibly way and the most beautiful. I love it and my team is amazing. Coming into work is a joy. I’m just living my best life at the moment.
Do you have any highlights or stories you could share with us from your time here?
Every day the students surprise me. Each student is a story – and you watch them develop and grow in complexity and narrative. Each one a protagonist in their own epic adventure. I’m blessed to be witnessing 108 soap operas every day – and some of these storylines are wonderfully heartwarming.
Why do you recommend students come to Chetham’s School of Music?
This is such a gentle school and it looks after gentle people really well. There is nowhere like this anywhere else. People talk about boarding school as being a bubble.
This is more than a bubble, it’s a safe haven in a massive city. These kids are very lucky. This city is very lucky.
I’m very lucky to have found it. And anyone who comes here is very lucky to be part of the journey. Whether its students, staff or parents.
Some young people might be a little nervous about boarding – what advice would you give to them?
It’s going to be the start of a big adventure and a really special fellowship that you will have with you for the rest of your life. In Millgate House, the team has over 100 years of collective experience working with young people in various settings and establishments [and I’ve even written a book on child development] so you’ll be in super safe hands. Everyone here, staff and students, always begin a new year feeling like it’s there first time away from home. So, we’re all in the same boat. But you get into a routine, you make friends, and you get involved. And if you have a bad day – talk to your friends or staff – we’re all here for one another. House is a place that’s a home away from home, in more ways than one. People here care and want to help. 100 years of experience means we’ve seen it all and dealt with everything before. No issue here is too small or too weird for our expertise. We love weird. We love talking and finding out about you, and how you’re feeling – and if that’s ‘not too good’ then we can change that.
We always leave students happier than when they arrived. Boarding houses at Chetham’s are happy chilled out places and everyone here matters.
And for those thinking about boarding – talk to students, talk to staff, come and visit. Ask those silly questions. Ask about Sunday Brunch [legendary]. Ask when the holidays are. Find out what the dorms look like and what’s in our Reading Room. The more you know before you get here, the less of a surprise it will be when you arrive! It’s those surprises that make people wobble. That’s my advice. Ask the questions about the things that are worrying you and then there’ll be nothing left to be worried about!