The House System

Each child and each adult in our school belongs in one of four Houses (with the exception of the Headteacher who supports each House equally). The Houses are named after individuals who have achieved great things and who embody our school’s values. These people are:

Ernest Shackleton

British polar explorer who led three British expeditions to the Antarctic.
Learn more about Ernest Shackleton

Emmeline Pankhurst

British political activist and member of the British suffragette movement who helped women win the right to vote.
Learn more about Emmeline Pankhurst

Mary Seacole

British-Jamaican business woman and nurse who cared for British soldiers at the battlefront during the Crimean War.
Learn more about Mary Seacole

Stephen Hawking

One of the most brilliant and influential scientists of our time known best for explaining the origins of the solar system and black holes.
Learn more about Stephen Hawking

The children learn about each of these individuals and their contributions to the world we now live in through our curriculum over their years at Bourn and during House activities.


One aim of the House system is to further embed and develop friendships between children of different ages and this is done through the vertical groupings for the Houses. Each House consists of children from Foundation stage to Year 6. At the start of each year, children in Year 6 are given the opportunity to be elected by children in their house to the role of House Captain.

Over the school year there are a range of House activities which bring children together to work in friendship to challenge themselves and each other to complete activities and to take part in House competitions, including Sports Day. The House Captains will work with the adults in their House to plan events and help run them within their House.

Supporting Others

One of the most special aspects of our House system is the link that each house has with a Child Ambassador in Kenya and Uganda through the charity Build Africa. Each House raises money to sponsor their child ambassador and the money raised is used to give vulnerable children the resources, quality teaching and parental support to help them get the most from their time at school and go on to lead productive, healthy and happy lives.


A further focus for the House system is to develop the children’s skills of collaboration. We focus strongly on working together as a team, supporting and challenging each other, in friendship, to be the best we can be. We aim to develop the ethos of working together for the greater good and for rewards earned, to instil a sense of achievement in the individual child and also a sense of pride in contributing towards their House’s overall achievement.

House Merits

House Merits are awarded for a wide range of behaviours, such as:

  • demonstrating any one of the school values,
  • modelling any part of our school vision,
  • going ‘above and beyond’ what would normally be expected.

All adults in the school can award merits to any child, during any part of the school day. Examples of what might be awarded a merit include:

  • showing a positive attitude about how something might turn out (being hopeful);
  • being helpful in the classroom (working together, making the world a better place);
  • looking after another child (friendship);
  • producing work to the highest standard they are capable of (challenging themselves);
  • advocating on behalf of another child (justice);
  • setting a good example for others (challenging each other to be the best we can be);
  • picking up litter (making the world a better place);
  • standing up for another child if they see someone being unkind (justice, courage);
  • performing in a concert (courage);
  • the list is literally endless…..

Children record their merits on a tally chart in the classroom and these are counted up each week by the House Captains. The total for the week, and the cumulative totals are announced weekly in Collective Worship.