Boarding schools to suit the not so sports inclined boy.(12 Posts)
I always had Eton, Radley and Winchester in mind for DS (year 3).
DS is not a fan of games however. He participates but does not really enjoy himself, especially team sports. He does enjoy tennis and swimming but if I'm honest he isn't especially talented in either.
He is very bright and does well academically, he loves all other aspects of boarding life in his small prep school.
Does anyone have a similar boy and suggestions for schools that might suit?
Abingdon has a boarding community as well as day boys, and is very flexible in what extra-curricular activities boys choose. My son is not into traditional teams sports and spends as much time as he can in the school's fantastic swimming pool. Look up the "Other Half" programme on the school's web site. You'll find all kinds of things there. Academic standards are high, are there are also very strong music, drama (and film) activities.
Winchester currently has no compulsory sport after the first two terms. Three afternoons a week, Tues Thursday and Saturday the boys are meant to do something so both sport and non sporting activities are offered, so for example I believe the debating society meets on a Thursday afternoon and this is an acceptable alternative too sport. There are boys who don't choose to do either a sport or a non sporting activity and HM's try and to encourage them to do something but in the end it's their choice.
There is also no major/minor sport so a boy can choose from a wide range and only do that. Football if offered for example but so are about 20 other sports including both tennis and swimming again it's a boys choice. My DS is not a team sports player, he arrived 5 years ago doing what would be in most schools a minor sport or extra curricular activity i.e. once a week, often only for two terms when the inter school completions take place, but he does it three to four times a week most of the year round.
Sport is never going to be big at Winchester, academia is always going to take priority over everything else, some don't like this, (I know some boys think the school is too serious) but if you don't like it there are plenty of other excellent schools. But because most sports only have a limited number actually doing it your DS does stand a better chance of getting into a team and in some sports the teams they put together are very successful others less so because of the lack of depth of choice.
Just to add at the beginning I said currently because a the new head starts in September and things may change.
IMO after nearly 11 years of full boarding if your DS wants boarding then choose a boarding school not what is fundamentally a day school with boarders, (Abingdon has boarders but they are very much in the minority it also has a very different ethos/feel to it than Winchester although of course Winchesters ethos might not suit you and your DS). Day schools with some boarders and full boarding only schools are two completely different animals, schools like Winchester Eton etc are 24/7 schools they are completely geared up for boarding the whole infra structure activities etc are organised around the boys being there all the time. I liked Tonbridge when I looked round but never registered my DS because there were only 40% boarders and we turned down an offered place at SPS because of this. Decide what you want and that will help you decide where to register your DS.
happygardening - you are absolutely right about there being cultural differences between all-boarding and mixed day-boarding. Had we been in a position to consider the expense of full boarding Winchester would definitely been on our list too. We like Abingdon for several reasons, one of which was because we could not afford the full boarding experience - one clue to the fact that the school has a good wide mix of pupils, including some from us squeezed middlers. It also has a lot of strong parental participation in events during term. The sports is also strong - about half the boys choose to play rugby and their first team is outstanding. So boys, whether or not they play, get to cheer on teams that often beat Radley and last year, Eton. My son is quite keen to do weekly boarding - the boarders there, while they are in a minority, are well looked after and have plenty to do. We can't afford it. But I agree with your advice to the OP to get the fit right, but we thought the mixed day-boarding was preferable, and there is indeed a good social mix.
sportphobic your DS enjoys tennis and swimming so he likes sport. He does n't need to be talented at it. Year 3 is very young anyway to decide what your DS will like and be good at, so you may be surprised what happens with team sports later on. Sport seems quite dominant in many boys prep schools but basically at senior school for almost all boys even if they play first team it will be a recreation and for many it will be sidelined by other activities by the time they get to sixth form.
All the schools on your list (and Abingdon) will have a large choice of sports for recreation as well as for more competitive boys including sailing, rowing etc. They are also all large enough to have teams in main stream sports made up of boys who are really very happy not to take it seriously or be good but still like doing a physical activity with the team spirit of a group of friends.
IME by the time boys are in mid teens and more conscious of their body image they are usually pleased to be physically fit through doing a fair amount of sport even if sport is n't their passion.
Just keep options open for your DS without 'pigeonholing' him too early.
send is right there is a lot of inference on team sports at prep schools my DS was completely put off rugby and cricket having been forced to endure it three times a week at prep. Much of the evening activities at boarding preps also seem to be around nets and ball sports as well. I remember when my DS reached the second term at Winchester and told me with delight he'd never have to stand on a rugby football cricket pitch again as long as he lived.
I think Winchester is virtually unique in offering non sporting activities as well as sporting ones at the same time and it is also very unusual for there to be no group major sports each term that a boy has to choose from. The fact that sport is optional and that no one sport dominates creates a different ethos.
Roguedad I know it's too late for you but Winchester has an ever increasing number on very substantial bursaries including the "squeezed middlers" there long term plan in to become needs blind. But in contrast to Abingdon there is not a huge amount of "parental participation", obviously it is inevitable that there will be less participation at a boarding school but this particularly applies at Winchester; it's hands off parenting again some may not like this but for me I find it a relief! I've met some Abingdon parents at a competition and as charming and friendly as they are many seems to have a different approach to parenting than most of the parents, they seemed very involved in their children's education/lives so I doubt either schools would suit the other.
Sorry tried to say I've met some Abingdon parents at a competition and as charming and friendly as they are they seenm to have a different approach to parenting than most of the Winchester parents.
This is no criticism of either we are all different and we're lucky to find and have sufficient choice in sending our DC's to a schools that suits us.
Just to qualify my previous comment about sport being dominant in prep schools, I did n't just mean time spent doing it but also the kudos and importance attached to it both by the teachers and other boys. This seems particularly true of smaller prep schools where the pool of teachers and boys is smaller. That can distort the perspection of its relative important at senior schools.
I don't disagree with HG about the advantages of flexibility in choice that Winchester gives between sport and non sporting activities. However that has the relative disadvantage of increasing the chances that a boy may have to choose between a sport session he likes and for example a rehearsal or music practice since all are fitted into the same timeslots.
send is also right about about having to choose between a sport and non sport activity my DS had to do exactly that. Choice does not equate with freedom.
Looking further afield, schools like Ampleforth & Oundle are both academic and offer great opportunities 'off the pitch'. Both have easy rail links to London if that is important too. Amazing new science block at Oundle, Sci-Tec. Both schools predominantly full boarding.
I have a 1 1/2 one way travelling rule, any further and I found that every trip to school; pick ups, parent teacher meetings etc becomes a pain in the neck.
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