Hi. I can’t speak highly enough of Lindisfarne. I was a weekly boarder from 2009-14, I had a blast, learned a lot academically and non-academically and I highly recommend it.
The first point I’d make is of the quality of the people. Especially since leaving NZ to study in the states, I’ve realized more and more that our honest and genuine attitude is a huge part of why country succeeds. Lindisfarne’s faculty embody this and couple it with an emphasis on ambition and excellence (which can lack in laid back kiwis). I think Lindisfarne finds a great balance. The staff are a mix of young and old, experienced (up to 30 years at the school) and new, arts and science, sport and academia, boarding and day school, men and women, hilarious and serious. However, they share a loyaly to the students and the school and have everyones best interests in mind. There were some real legends like Mr Richardson and Mr Barry. I totally took for granted that my high school teachers were such good, family people, that some of them lived on campus in the boarding house with us, coached our teams and were even family friends with us outside of school. These personal connections are what set institutions apart from one another.
As a boarding school, there were students from all over Hawke’s Bay, plenty of farm/orchard boys, guys from Gizzy to Danneverke as well as Havelock, Hastings and Napier. We were lucky to live with guys from all over the show. This is another reason that I believe Lindisfarne is a better experience than a more regular city school. Again, I’d say we didn’t appreciate this diversity for as much as it was worth - but I do now.
On the admissions process: the cohort is about 90, with a 50/50 dayboy boarder split. Dayboys get in purely by their placement on the waitlist (parents enroll their sons on the waitlist when they are young). Boarders are selected following an interview. I’m not sure their rationale for this but it’d be interesting to know. I’m biased, but I’d definitely say that the boarders were the better guys and everyone had character to them.
On that point, it’s a shame that it exists, but bullying was a fairly big problem inside and outside of the boarding house. This exists in all schools in New Zealand and I would argue that the situation is improving (especially at Lindisfarne). There’s a lot of testosterone and clashing attitudes/behaviors for 14-18 year old boys. Kiwi’s, while laid back, can be fairly intolerant of others’ differences and most people were trying too hard to be cool to stand up for the kids that were bullied.
NCEA is the only curriculum offered at Lindisfarne and I doubt this’ll change anytime soon. There’s no real need to change aside from offering more challenge for bright students and people wanting to go abroad. The top 2/3 students typically take four level three subjects in Year 12 (skip level 2) and end up with a fairly relaxed Year 13, save for benchmark exams (for Dux) and scholarship exams. I think Lindisfarne has a very high quality of teaching in all domains by the staff.
Lindisfarne punches well above its weight in scholarship results. In some ways this is to be expected, since we are the premier boys school in Hawke’s Bay, and Hawke’s Bay is a relatively big talent pool. We’ve had a premier scholar every two years for the past 6 (or more?) years. George Nelson, Nick Ward and now Geoffrey Bernsten. Last year, every one of the other Premier Award winners came from Auckland, Wellington or Hamilton. This is a very impressive feat considering that virtually no one at Lindisfarne gets private tutoring and that because we are so small, there is a very limited framework for scholarship support. I had huge gripes with this when I was in Year 13 because I was basically not taught anything by any teachers for the whole year (as I’d done most of Level 3 in year 12). This meant it wasn’t a challenging year academically, but I did come to appreciate the break and I thoroughly enjoyed my last year of school.
Lindisfarne is a strong sporting school and frequently competes at various national tournaments across many different sports. Sport is emphasized a lot and it leads a very healthy atmosphere. That said, there are plenty of boys that don’t play a lot of sport and they occupy themselves with other things.
The facilities are fantastic. There’s often construction of new buildings and within the last few years we’ve built a new performing arts building and auditorium, tennis courts, driveway and classroom block. The grounds are maintained incredibly well and we have a large campus and recently acquired more sports grounds down the road.
Lindisfarne is an example of a school with a strong 50+ year legacy and a modern and dynamic attitude. In the recently tough economic climate we have to work hard to justify the fees and in our case, I think this has pressure has produced diamonds. Lindisfarne continues to excel academically, culturally, in sport and socially. This is a credit to the board, staff and the families that are involved with the college. I’m proud to have been a student and I am a big supporter of the school.