The House System at Bishop Cotton School
One of the oldest traditions of Bishop Cotton is the House system.
The House system provides a strong pastoral unit within the school, a sense of identity, and is also the means for healthy competition in sports, and the creative and performing arts
When they join Bishop Cotton each boy is allocated one of four houses – Curzon, Ibbetson, Lefroy and Rivaz. They remain with that House throughout their time at the school.
Each House has its own distinct traditions. Members of the same family will usually join the same House and generations of Old Cottonians remain fiercely proud of their respective Houses.
The Houses are run by Housemasters. Each Housemaster has between eight and ten House Tutors working with him. Each House Tutor has about ten boys from Class VI to XII attached to him or her: These tutorial groups do not change so as to foster a strong relationship between the ward and guardian. The tutors are responsible for the emotional, spiritual, physical and intellectual health of their wards. Housemasters and their tutors meet at least twice a month. Tutorial feedback is reviewed by the Headmaster and the Director on a regular basis.
Boys are also split into Class groups where they meet with a teacher and with boys from the same year group on a daily basis. This provides an additional tier of pastoral care
The Junior School, Classes III to V, is overseen by the Junior School Co-ordinator. Matrons live next to the boys in the dormitories and look after their basic needs outside of lesson time. During the school day, the boys are under the care of Class Teachers, whose function is like House Tutors.
The History of the House System
During the early days of the school, the House system and organized games were not as fully developed as they are today. The four large dormitories which are now House dormitories were known simply by numbers (one, two, three and four). It was in 1906 that the dormitories were changed to House dormitories.
The name and the colours were chosen by Mr G.S. Stokes, the Senior Assistant Master and the House system was finalised by Mr. F.R.Gillespie, the Headmaster from 1919 to 1922. The names of the Houses were chosen to represent the Viceroy, the Governor of undivided Punjab and the Bishop of Lahore, all of whom were of immense help after the devastating school fire in 1905.
Lefroy was the first House created in 1906 after the name of Rt. Rev.George A.A. Lefroy, third Bishop of Lahore.
Ibbetson House has the motto ‘Nec Impetu Nec Imperio’ – ‘Neither By Attack Nor By Design’. Ibbetson House, formed in 1907, got its name from Sir Denzil Ibbetson Governor of Punjab from 1907 to 1908. Ibbetson was admired and noted for his efficient administration. This was the second house formed after Lefroy House.
The House color is Oxford Blue. The first House Master was Mr. J.V. Malley in the year 1909. the first House Captain was L. Rossetti in the year 1907.
Rivaz House takes its name from Sir Charles Rivaz, who was the Governor of Punjab from 1903 to 1907. Rivaz House did not have a motto till 1935. The House colour is Cambridge Blue, which is a light blue. It was taken from the school colours which are ‘Light Blue’ and ‘Dark Blue’. The first House Captain of Rivaz was E.R. Lewis in 1908.
Curzon House was named after Lord George Viscount Curzon who was Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905. He was the eldest son of Rev. Alfred Curzon. In April 1895 he married Mary Luther the daughter of an American millionaire. In 1904 he returned to India leaving behind his wife in England. Early in 1925, he suddenly fell ill at Cambridge and died in London on the 20th March. The first House Captain was F.V.V.G Rossetti in 1909. He was also a staff member from 1923 to 1926. The first House Master of Curzon house was H.J. Ford in the year 1919. M.E.O. Campos and Jal Boga were House Captains for three consecutive years.
The boys’ dormitories are simple, clean and hygienic.
From Classes III to VIII, the boys live in newly built dormitories above the Junior School under the direct care and supervision of Matrons and Wardens, and boys of the same age group are housed together. The Junior and Middle School dormitories are called Linlithgow, Irons, Stooks, Lewis and Sinker. The school is currently aiming to phase out bunk beds and most boys enjoy a single bed of their own. Additionally, each boy has a locker for their personal possessions.
Each dormitory has toilets and showers, a linen room and a common room.
From Class IX onward the boys move up to the Main School and live with the other boys of their respective house. Each House is supervised by the Housemaster and a Warden who lives next to the dormitory. The Main School Matron is in charge of the box room and sees to the cleanliness of clothes, issue of personal items and other pastoral requirements.
The Junior School, Classes III to V, is overseen by the Junior School Co-ordinator. Matrons live next to the boys in the dormitories and look after their basic needs outside of lesson time. During the school day, the boys are under the care of Class Teachers, who function like House Tutors.
Hygiene and Cleanliness
The boys are required to bathe every day. The school has an excellent supply of water and a filtration plant. The 8000-litre diesel boiler provides plentiful hot water as and when required. Dormitories have fixed bathing times in the morning and evening. Clothes are laundered on campus and boys are given a fresh set of clothes three times a week, and change their underwear and socks daily! Bed linen is changed at least once a week. The school barber cuts the boys hair, and each dormitory has a fixed day and time for this. The appearance of each boy is checked on a daily basis by the Matron or Warden and the Housemasters.
The school has a twenty-four-bed infirmary staffed by three qualified nurses who are on call 24/7. Medical provision is overseen by a qualified doctor who is a specialist paediatrician. He holds clinics three times a week.
The school has the ability to isolate and quarantine pupils if they are suffering from an infectious disease.
Serious illnesses and emergencies are usually referred to Shimla’s main hospital IGMC.
All boys are subject to a full medical every six months and the data is made available to parents. Recommendations are made if it is decided that a boy needs further investigation or treatment. All boys also receive an annual eye and dental check up.
Mental Wellbeing and Emotional support
In addition to the House Staff, Teaching Faculty and the Medical Team, boys are able to receive counselling from a trained Child Psychologist who visits the school regularly. The school also has a resident full-time Chaplain who is always available to the boys and staff
Food and Nutrition
The School Mess is managed by a private caterer. The food is hygienically prepared and wholesome and the menu is designed and monitored by the Mess Committee which includes student representatives.
Breakfast consists of porridge and eggs or a vegetarian equivalent, and toast, butter and jam, accompanied by milk and tea. Sometimes parathas or dosas are served. Every boy gets a minimum of 500 ml. of milk a day.
Lunch is usually rice and chapattis with dal and vegetable/meat preparation and is rounded off with fruit.
Tea-time snacks range from cakes to patties, biscuits, sandwiches or samosas.
Dinner is rice and chapattis/tandoori rotis with a non-vegetarian preparation, and a sweet or pudding. Soup and cutlets or roast or Chinese food are also great favourites.
Once a week, the boys are subject to a formal meal, complete with tablecloths and napkins. Care is taken while preparing these special menus so that the boys are exposed to as many different kinds of food as possible. To make them familiar with the techniques and etiquette of handling crockery and cutlery they are taught table manners.
There is a tuck shop, ‘Chipus’ named after a dearly beloved tuck shop man of yesteryear who appeared in the autobiographical works of OC Ruskin Bond. Chipus provides for all needs for snacking (on account) so that boys do not need to bring excessive tuck with them to school.
The 35-acre Bishop Cotton Campus is secure and safe. The school perimeter is protected by security fencing and CCTV surveillance cameras. Security guards are on duty around the clock. Visitors can only enter the school campus by prior appointment. Pupils can only leave the campus on designated days and only with a parent or guardian or with an agreed exeat from a Housemaster.
A Typical School Day
The school day varies for different age groups, but as a guide to life at Bishop Cotton. The school day is as follows
From Monday to Friday the day begins with the rising bell at 0600hrs and after ChotaHazri (morning tea), the boys go for Physical Training classes and games. Then there are showers, and breakfast at 0730hrs followed by inspection, and Chapel at 0815hrs. Classes begin at 0845hrs and with a short break at 1045hrs continue to 1300hrs when the boys have lunch. After lunch the boys have classes till 1500hrs. Tea is then taken. Organised games begin at 1530hrs and continue until 1730hrs. The boys then have showers and change. Supervised Prep takes place from 1800hrs to 1930hrs. Supper is then taken and second prep then continues until 2130hrs. Roll call is held thereafter for the boys and then they proceed to their respective dormitories for bedtime and lights out at 2200hrs. Senior boys are permitted late study and a later bedtime at 2230hrs.
Saturday is a half day followed by Games and Sunday is a rest day.