Winchester College- Sports(84 Posts)
I am presently considering senior schools for my DS. The Head at his Prep School has suggested Winchester College. The only reservation that I have is that my DS is a gifted all round sportsman (Cricket, Football, Athletics). Looking at WCs results, they seem to lose regularly at most team sports. Does anyone have anything positive to say about sport at WC?
Just asked DS.
On the positive side (apart from rugby) WC has excellent facilities to do pretty much any sport you want to do. They are good at some of the less mainstream sports e.g. fives, squash, he thinks fencing as well.
However, the ethos of the school is not the same as e.g. Radley. If your son excels at team sports and results are important and outweigh any other aspect of the school then he says you have a legitimate reservation. However, if you just like and want to do a lot of sport then you have great facilities and ample opportunity.
Agree with Darkling - it is not in the DNA of the school. WC is a brilliant school for academic, thinking children, but there is no compulsory team sport after the first year. Beautiful place, great facilities but a lot of the boys just aren't into it, and so those that fancy a game of cricket for example get beaten regularly by those schools where sport ranks alongside academics. Are you looking at Eton? Masses of team sports there...!
Your answers have confirmed what I feared. I would love DS to go to Winchester because it has a fantastic reputation and its close. Yes I have considered Eton, but if DS went there, I dont think I`d see much of him because of the distance and the boarding arrangements which dont appear to offer much flexibility at weekends. Charterhouse seems like a possibility?
There are some very knowledgable Winchester parents who post here and can give you more views but if I haven't put you off completely , DS is at home at the moment, so if you wanted to PM with any specific questions then he would be happy to answer them.
Workingtoohard if your DS wants to play rugby or has ambitions to be a professional sportsman or wants termtime weekday evening release for county training forget Winchester. The A / B squads in cricket and football are serious and well coached however the teams will have a smaller pool of boys to select from compared to a school like Eton which is so much larger or other schools that attract mainly sporty boys. The athletics, crosscountry and minor sports are very good whilst tennis and rowing are not bad at all. The advantage for the above is that boys can focus on them rather than having time divided between main team sports and minor sports.
Basically apart from the criteria in my first sentence your DS will have what he needs to develop and enjoy sport and play for serious university teams, he may actually find other sports he prefers aside from the main team sports and be able to focus on them by daily training. The downside of relatively fewer very sporty boys has to be balanced with the advantages of Winchester including its unique academic programme and in your case proximity to school.
"I don't think Id see much of him......and the boarding arrangements which don't seem to offer much flexibility."
Win Coll's boarding arrangement don't offer any flexibility. At the weekend the boys cannot come out on Saturday night until the U6th and then only 1 Saturday every half term. Up till the U6th they can come home on Sundays but only after chapel which on alternate Sundays doesn't end till 1130 am. I thought I understood from friends that Eton's boarding arrangement are slightly more flexible.
Sport is never going to be big at a Win Coll, as said above it's just not in it's make up, the non mainstream sports are often more successful than the usual mainstream ones eg Cricket especially against other schools but the boys are often mainly only winning on school circuits if your DS has ambitions to be successful at higher levels e.g. successful against reputable non school clubs etc then Win Coll again is not really the place because the school is very reluctant to give the boys time out to go to competitions attending chapel on a Sunday takes priority.
Looks to me as if you should be looking at Wellington College. Sport is taken very seriously and boarding is flexible at weekends.
Thanks jeanne. I should have said, we`re looking for a football rather than a rugby school.
There is in rugby at Win Coll so that's a positive.
Charterhouse and Bradfield are both football, weekly boarding schools.
I think Charterhouse would be a better fit than Wellington if your son is academic. Some very bright boys from DS's prep won scholarships there and, of course, they are a football-playing school.
DS enjoys sports and actually excels at a few, but they are not team sports. He receives excellent coaching in these and the college seems to take physical education very seriously.
He loves playing football, but isn't very good at it. Winchester, from his perspective, is a perfect fit!
Charterhouse is also primarily weekly boarding.
My DS also excels at school in his chosen non major sport beating nearly all he plays on the school circuit but to get to the next level including getting into even the lowest level of the GB ranking would require him to practice outside of the school club at the very least on a weekly basis and also attend out of school competitions at the weekends to get the necessary experience so essential to be even fairly successful at the next level up and the school will not allow this. We know others in the same sport at a variety of independent schools who are doing this. Obviously it's easier in some sports to get more practice in school and school time so for example there are some exceedingly strong cross country runners.
But ultimately Win Coll is not about sport or excelling at high levels in sport if this had been our priority DS could have gone to our localish big name independent school. But everything else about the place he would have hated.
Thanks everyone for your responses, they`re so helpful. Out of interest, my DS is also a musician. Is the same approach taken with those with potential to excel at music?.
Actually workinghard I think Winchester is one of the very few boarding schools that allows a near specialist music school level for the serious musicians. There are a number of very high level musicians and the teaching staff and ensembles at the high level are great. Also, the plus side of flexibility in students being able to choose to do less sport is that they can spend a lot of time doing music and practice. There are now also ensembles for intermediate musicians but they will have less performance opportunities than perhaps in other schools. The music tech is also very popular and well taught.
As always the boy who like sport and music will have clashes and will have to make choices.
summer is right music is taken much more seriously DS knows a boy whose in the National Youth Orchestra. My DS is not musical but I understand from talking over the years to a few that are that the standard of music is very high, that there are a variety of orchestras, quarters and ensembles but most music scholars will be at the very least grade 8 on arrival at the school and that musical opportunities such as playing a concerto for any but the very best players are limited.
There are numerous inter house competitions including sport, football being one of them, my DS is not a team sports player but inter house competions seem to be taken very seriously. There are also house concerts for parents at least once a year, I've never been to one but I'm assuming all who play an instrument to a reasonable level get a chance to play if they so wish.
I asked DS about the sporting opportunities he genuinely feels that Win Coll is not the right place for the "gifted all round sportsman" who aspires to compete and win at a high level. The boys were reminded by the head in chapel a few years ago they were not there to do sport but academia.
Have you visited WC?
We had ruled it out for our DS mainly for the reasons you have. We have a sporty DS who enjoys a variery of sports including rugby. Our HM inisted we paid a visit and our minds were changed.
If your DS wants to shine in the glory of his sporting success and build his popularity amongst his peers based on it, then WC is not the place to go. If however, he wants to enjoy brilliant facilities and excellent coaching in the sports of his choice, then I really dont see why not.
Visit and ask also to see the housemaster in one of the more sporty houses and perhaps also one of the more musical houses, you may be plesantly surprised!
WTH, one more thing I would just add, prompted by some pps.
Your son is quite young. My own personal experience is that when younger, Ds was a pretty good all rounder (although we did know at an early age e.g. he was never going to play cricket for Hampshire or compete for team GB at athletics.) As the boys get older they cannot do everything at the highest level IMHO. So e.g. if your son is very able musically that will take a certain time out of his week , if he is very very talented at cricket, so will that. That is even before you have thought of, is he good at rowing and does he want to do it for example. Or, might he find that he is very good at debating, which will equally take time and effort outside normal school work. Or indeed drama / acting. By the time they are older they can't do everything and their school work.
If you think you think your son has a real shot at a country / county level sport, you probably may know that by now. Equally if he has the potential / aptitude to become a first rate musician. There may be things you don't even know he is good at which a school like Wincoll will give him the chance to discover. There are boys at WC who are hugely academic and clever and play sport and do music for example to a high level. But it depends how you define high level. Boys do get music scholarships (e.g.) offered to for example Oxbridge. That said you need only look on some threads on MN to see that there are many DCs who are very gifted musically who go on to specialist music schools / conservatoires for example.
I think that Winchester has a very strong "offering" (sorry rubbish word but early morning) in that the academic side of things is very strong but also a little different (e.g. have you looked at Div and what that means ) . I would say that if you are worrying primarily about whether they beat Charterhouse or Wellington at football once a month, and the fact it is close to home and pretty, then possibly you aren't looking at the things which (again IMHO) make Wincoll a really good school.
Again - do PM at any time - happy to help.
Sorry - just one thing which occurred to me as making early morning cup of tea - looking at Winchester with sport as a main focus reminds me of those adverts for the V&A some years ago - "an ace caff with a rather nice museum attached".
Thanks Tinkerbellthree, we are arranging a visit. WC has an excellent reputation and we would love our DS to go there. DarlingJane, thanks again. Just to clarify, sport isnt our only focus, but its an aspect of our DS`s schooling that we need to consider, and an area that we are seeking reassurance about.
We know a top sportsman who's the same year as DS he attends a school with an outstanding club in his choosen sport. It's a sport that in most schools is often only offered as a minor sport/extra curricular activity but at his school it isn't, he doesn't have to stand on the rugby pitch three afternoons a week. The club has one of the UK's top coaches, and add into this he has exceedingly dedicated parents who shlep round the country on weekends taking him to competitions and in the weekday to other clubs so that he get more practice the time, and the level of effort he and his parents have put into this reflect his ability and his current GB/world ranking. He's decided to make a career in this sport and parents were quite honest and told me this will reflect in his exam grades. Interestingly he only made the decision to take it this seriously when he was in yr 10 luckily the school was on his side. We also know a full boarding school (same sport) who also have one of the UK's top coaches and DS's ex coach again those who wish too can pursue only this sport, he has the freedom to take them out of lessons etc any day and take them to competitions. He was fairly recently saying to me that if DS2 has gone to this school how many more opportunities he would have had to be much better at the sport, GB ranking would be a given (injury aside), but as he knows DS well he then interestingly added at this selective big name full boarding school DS2 would have been bored stiff when in all other lessons etc!
Win Coll IMO is not for those with serious sporting ambitions like those I've detailed above, but what it does which neither of the two schools above provide (this first one is also a big name) is offer a broad intellectually stimulating curriculum with a large non examined part. My non musical DS was completely put off music at prep, yesterday he was humming (badly) Elgars cello concerto, I noticed he was listening to Brahms the other day on his phone and then AC/DC, he was talking to my DH about Thomas Hardy, and first WW1 war poets over dinner this weekend and he is a regular visit to art galleries where he looks and talks with genuine passion. He loves languages and excels at math, ok he's could have been in the GB ranking for his chosen sport if he's gone to another school but he wouldn't have all those other interests. I also believe that the camaraderie between the boys is pretty special at Win Coll in comparison with others that's also important and that the boys are allowed to be themselves which I believe is essential.
Our children are being pigeon holed so early now a days, those of us who are lucky enough to be able to afford school fees are often trying to decide when our children are 9/10 which senior school will fit them best, many have to choose (I)GCSEs at an age when many don't have a clue what they want to do in the long term and even worse at 15/16 they are asked to choose A levels (Pre U's in the case of Win Coll) when again many don't have a clue as to what there long term plans are. Between yrs 4 -8 children change a lot as they become teenagers they change all the time, schools like Win Coll offer so much and boys find interests that they previously never had.
OP I knew when DS was at prep that I wanted to my DS to have a very broad intellectually stimulating education, regardless of the fact that I was being told by his then coach that he was showed genuine talent in his choosen sport and that I should send him to X, my gut feeling was that he was the sort of child that would benefit from this breadth and depth. He has friends at other boarding schools whose parents either didn't want this or who felt their DS's wouldn't benefit from this. Most like me haven't regretted their individual decisions.
You definitely don't need to worry about the music
DS is musical and we've attended some of the concerts.
The boys playing were phenomenally good. Very advanced, technically challenging pieces.
And these weren't even the music scholars!! Nor were they all seniors. What particularly interested me was that so many of the non-playing boys had chosen to go along and listen - it wasn't compulsory because it didn't need to be.
WTH - sorry if it came across as you that you weren't looking out for the things which are important for your son - I did not mean that. It was just a comment from someone who now has an 18 yr old rather than 11 yr old and only meant to be a helpful and friendly comment. As they get older they have more demands on their time. At some point they have to make a choice. But , WC will give the opportunity to try a very many things to a high level. You will see that when you visit & I wish you and your son all the best , whatever you decide. Do ask or PM if you would like any more help.
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