The house system creates an identity and sense of belonging within the wider school; students feel loyalty to their house that often lasts well beyond their years at the school. Each house has its own character and customs and students appreciate being involved in maintaining and developing these.
A key role for the house system is the pastoral care it offers; tutors tend to stick with tutor groups, so know their pupils (and often their parents) really well by the time they leave the school. Students know that they can see their housemasters and house mistresses (HMs), if they have concerns, and can trust that the HMs know them and their situations, as they are the contact point for parental worries, academic concerns, safeguarding, or well-being issues.
All of the above allows for continuity and consistency in pastoral care. The house system also allows pupils to mix vertically, and this can build support networks, where older students can help out younger students and offer their experience. It also offers lots of opportunities for getting involved in activities beyond the classroom, be that house competitions, form trips, or house quizzes. Older pupils are given the opportunity to develop their leadership skills within the house, for example, leading charities week, organising house teams, mentoring younger pupils, addressing house gatherings and engendering the house spirit.
Together with the HM, heads of house help to create a positive environment for the younger pupils in the house. Whenever we speak to old Chigwellians, they still remember their house and argue about which one was the best!