Wow! It's just like Hogwarts
LITTLE Anann-Francesca Waite looked up at the impressive surroundings of Culford School and remarked "Wow. It's just like Hogwarts".Her impressions of the similarities between the Suffolk boarding school and the fictitious home of Harry Potter may have been no more than child's play, but the J K Rowling books and feature films have made an impact on school figures.
LITTLE Anann-Francesca Waite looked up at the impressive surroundings of Culford School and remarked "Wow. It's just like Hogwarts".
Her impressions of the similarities between the Suffolk boarding school and the fictitious home of Harry Potter may have been no more than child's play, but the J K Rowling books and feature films have made an impact on school figures.
Staff are under no illusion that young visitors, like nine-year-old Anann, are likening their experiences from the popular book to when they see the buildings at Culford as the level of boarders has increased for the first time in more than 15 years.
Director of admissions Jane Hart said: "We have to acknowledge the contribution made by J K Rowling to developments at Culford.
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"We have no scientific evidence but there is no doubt that the Harry Potter effect has made going away to boarding school a much more exciting prospect in recent years."
The five Harry Potter books have touched the hearts of millions of youngsters and many adults and, with a fifth book and a third movie on the way, the popularity shows no signs of abating.
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The sense of community felt at Hogwarts – the fictional boarding school that houses Harry, Hagrid and the rest – is particularly strong at Culford.
Mrs Hart said: "Pupils learn how to share time and interests for the greater good of the community, they get involved in a myriad of activities.
"In a school where boarding plays a significant part, young people learn to stand on their own two feet, accept responsibility for their actions and help others to put right mistakes."
Similar levels of popularity are also being seen at Ipswich School although the number of boarding places is lower than Culford.
Registrar Christina Robinson said: "Our boarding numbers are very healthy for both girls and boy throughout the age range.
"The picture also looks healthy next year. I would love to think this is because of Harry Potter but we cannot confirm whether this is the case."
In 2002, an annual survey reported the first overall increase in boarding since 1987 with boys up by one per cent and girls by 2.4 per cent.
This increase was continued last year and looks set to be improved at Culford where a £1.75 million refurbishment is planned.
Girls at the Suffolk school, near Bury St Edmunds, will enjoy five-star facilities later this year when a new boarding and day house is opened.
Jocelyn House is to undergo a complete overhaul in the next six months with every room benefiting from the internet and the school's intranet system.
There will also be two new boarding and day houses for boys, based on Edwards House and Cornwallis House.
This is good news for the next generation of potential boarders including Anann who visited the school with her father Robert, who is based at RAF Honington, and mother Francesca.
Her mother said: "We had always sold the idea of boarding school to her by saying it was like Hogwarts.
"And when she first saw the building, she said it was just like the school in Harry Potter. We looked around the school and it was like her dream had come true – she said she would start tomorrow.
"Anann now has visions in her mind of having midnight feasts and playing Quidditch."