There are currently ten boarding Houses at Ampleforth, three for girls and seven for boys. On arrival, all students join a House, which will become a central focus and important base for them during their time at the school.
Each House is home to some 70 students of all ages who live in a friendly and supportive atmosphere which is run by a Housemaster or Housemistress. Every House is named after a saint, and each has their own crest and school colours, nurturing students in a strong spirit of solidarity and loyalty.
A newly arrived student of 13 is not intimidated by the task of finding his or her place in the whole school. Instead he or she begins by building relationships with the twelve or so other newcomers in his or her House and with their Housemaster or Housemistress. They will be the student's closest colleagues for the next five years. A junior student will normally sleep in a dormitory and prepare his or her academic work within the House. He or she will move into a study bedroom in the Sixth Form.
A resident Assistant Housemaster or Housemistress and a team of House Tutors take part in the pastoral care of the House. In particular, a tutor is responsible for the academic progress of every student in a single House year-group. Tutors ensure that every student is correctly placed in subject sets and is studying the subjects that best suit his or her abilities and interests. They also monitor progress. This watchful help will continue throughout the student's stay at the school and will extend to the choice of university and career.
House Matrons are asked to take part in the general pastoral care of Houses and especially to keep an eye on rooms and dormitories. The school expects a collectively assumed responsibility for civilised order and reasonable tidiness. Ampleforth has a clear and definite dress code rather than a uniform, and we ask the support of parents in helping us to ensure that the students wear clothes that meet our standards.
Morning and evening prayers, Mass (whether for the whole House or for groups), seasonal prayers in Lent or at other times, and the annual retreat, are centred on each student's House and House Chapel. Equally, students are welcomed to prayer with the Community in the Abbey Church, and contacts of all kinds with the Community and lay staff are encouraged.
Yet the Houses are by no means exclusive communities. Sporting competition between the Houses is keen. The school's many activities and shared meals make school-wide communication easy, and friendships between students from different Houses naturally develop. Lessons, of course, are organised in year groups, which ensures that students have extensive daily contact with students from other Houses.
A number of senior students are invited to take responsibility for the welfare of the school and the Houses as School and House Monitors. They are answerable to the Headmaster and Housemasters for the trust which is extended to them.