Last week I was stuck on a train. I’d been to a school which has some great house names and, as I reflected on my own experience of house systems in various schools, I put out a casual tweet. Normally you get a few responses – a bit of passing interest – but the response to this was huge. Over 1000 twitter replies. You can see the whole thread here – although this doesn’t include all those who quote-tweeted their responses. I started off by engaging with all the replies but soon gave up.
It appears that school houses are alive and well across the land in schools of every kind. For a few people, the idea of houses in schools is weird and alien, provoking some strong responses. “No, I’m not a tory or a Catholic so I didn’t go to a school with houses!”. Some people expressed amazement that this was a real thing – not just something invented by JK Rowling. At least four people responded with the Hogwarts houses (not even funny the first time; sorry folks.).
But the responses are fabulous. There are lots of common categories:
- Key historical figures.
- Key inspirational figures from different walks of life.
- Key people representing subjects, spanning a range of areas of study.
- School founders or former Headteachers
- Saints or other religious figures.
- Cities and streets, ancient and modern.
- Ships and aircraft
- Prominent local people.
- Rivers, forests, mountains and other geographical features.
- Birds and other animals – real and mythical.
- Flowers and trees.
- Royal Households.
- Objects in space.
- Very very ordinary house names: colours, letters of the alphabet.
Here’s a flavour from my personal history:
- Primary School 1: Aztecs, Incas, Mayas
- Primary School 2: Waverley, Hindhead, Frensham, Churt, Elstead, Tilford (local villages)
- Secondary School: Venus, Mars, Saturn, Jupiter
- BIS, Jakarta: Merapi, Bromo, Krakatoa, Agung (Indonesian volcanos)
- KEGS: Tindal, Strutt, Holland, Mildmay (figures from the school’s early history)
- Highbury Grove: Aqua, Ignis, Terra, Ventus (four elements in Latin)
Here’s a flavour from my twitter responses:
- Spitfire, Neptune and Hussar; ships commanded by Sir Thomas Fremantle
- Significant townspeople: Parry, Muston, Gannock, Laughton
- Clanfield Primary: Buscot, Radcot, Rushey, Grafton all local locks.
- Athens, Tuscany, Troy and Sparta.
- Broadley, Holmsley, Setthorns, Silverstone – New Forest Enclosures
- Penguins of The Falklands: Rockhopper, Gentoo, Magellenic and King
- Planes: Lancaster, Spitfire, Vulcan, Meteor
- Spartan, Vanguard, Valiant, Scepter. Names of submarines
- Welsh saints; Non, Teilo, Elli and Cadoc
- Mythical beasts: Centaur, Drakon, Geryon, Pegasus, Phoenix, Titan, Wyvern
- Explorers: Armstrong (space) Kingsley (land) and Magellan (sea)
- Ducks, Geese, Larks and Warblers!!
- Metropole in Motor City, Dubai -F1 teams: McLaren, Ferrari, Williams & Mercedes.
- Sussex castles: Amberley, Bramber, Hastings, Lewes
- Inspirational: Hawking, Nightingale, Shakespeare
- Da Vinci, Luther King, Seacole, Tomlinson.
- Austin, Bronte, Shakespeare, Tolkien. British authors.
- Gods – Athena, Demeter, Zeus, Poseidon & Neptune
- Mandeville, Bourchier, Bohun and Devereux – Earls of Essex
- Literally Norfolk houses: Blickling, Felbrigg, Holkham, Mannington, Wolterton
I’m a massive fan of houses – and would certainly want them in any school I worked in. They provide such a fabulous opportunity for leadership, for competitions and celebrations of students’ talents and successes in various pursuits. In a big school, they provide a way of breaking down the scale to give students a sense of belonging and working with older and younger students. Far from being the preserve of faith schools or ‘posh schools’ – schools of all kinds embrace the idea of house spirit to great effect. I think it’s fabulous.
One of my all-time favourite house events was House Music at KEGS. Without doubt the highlight of the year. Here’s a blog about it: https://teacherhead.com/2012/11/25/kegs-house-music-the-kegs-spirit-in-action/.
Thanks to everyone who contributed your house names. It was great fun – but I’ve got enough now – thanks!