Need a good "football school" - advice please(67 Posts)
Hi readers, we are looking to return to the UK after 8 years in Asia, so we are not currently in the UK independent schooling system; so my only resource has been the GSG.
DS would love a day school that is big on football; although is is very good at other sports too. So far we have identified these as suitable options for Y9 2014 ;
Whitgift, Hampton, Bradfield and Ardingly.
As long at the school is competent at results then we are happy. Aside form the sports stuff, I would really like a school that will bring out the best in him; he is a "good boy" who is more than capable and very consciencous but will try and get away with the minimum.
Given the above criteria, can anyone share any views on if we are headed in the right direction ? We are hoping to visit said schools shortly. I'm also conscious that some of these schools are boarding - as a non-border, would he be "left out " ??
Are we barking up the wrong trees ?
PS We are not restricted to location, as long as there is a route into London for work - then its fine.
Whitgift and Hampton both great schools and sporty. However, as with other London day schools, places are based on competitive entry and it is worth trying to determine whether your son has a realistic chance of gaining a place.
Bradfield regularly beat my son's school convincingly and I dont think his team are ever up against the firsts or seconds. We know some lovely straighforward boys who went there, and I would expect academics to more than meet your desire for "competence".
Frank Lampard went to Brentwood - apparently a sound student and very good at Latin - who still seem to field a good side.
You could also look at the schools which feature in the English Schools Football Association (ESFA) competitions
You need to check out the ISFA and look through results in the Boodles cup,and if you want to see what schools have decent OB teams check out the Arthur Dunn cup.
Hampton has very competitive academic entry, probably harder to get into than Whitgift. Don't know about the other two. Hampton also pretests in yr 6 which you would have missed for yr6 entry, but it is worth asking them if they do any testing later. Whitgift test in January of yr 8 I think, with registration closing the previous November, so you need to register this November for 2014 entry.
Both are definitely very strong in football.
Football isn't the main sport at any of the indie schools really - it is more of a state school sport with some of the grammar schools having strong teams. Don't get me wrong, all the boys will play football, many daily at lunchtime etc, but in terms of inter school fixtures, these are low key in comparison with rugby, hockey, cricket and even swimming.
I suspect GSG may have picked up on the fact that these schools may have links with local football clubs, and some of their pupils play for professional clubs academies. IMO, if you have a very keen and good footballer then look at moving near a club with an academy. But if you look at the detail of the games curriculum at your listed schools I suspect that there won't be much football.
Alleyn's is meant to be good for football... Doesn't do rugby and if the website is to be believed, it is very hot on football...
"Football isn't the main sport at any of the indie schools really - it is more of a state school sport with some of the grammar schools having strong teams. Don't get me wrong, all the boys will play football, many daily at lunchtime etc, but in terms of inter school fixtures, these are low key in comparison with rugby, hockey, cricket and even swimming."
Ladymuck what utter rot! This is a taken directly from Etons website:
"Football retains its popularity at Eton. Up to 24 teams from all age groups represent the school on a regular basis throughout the Michaelmas Half. Long-standing fixtures include Winchester, Westminster, Charterhouse, Bradfield and Shrewsbury. The Association (1st XI) compete in the prestigious annual Boodles Independent Schools Football Association (ISFA) Cup and the U15As in the Rensburg Sheppards ISFA Cup. These are both national competitions and Eton regularly reach the last sixteen....
Many players, coaches and managers from the professional game have also visited Eton, either to speak at society meetings, or to coach on the famous playing fields. Visitors over the years have included John Barnes, Gianfranco Zola, Frank Leboeuf, Ron Atkinson, Vinnie Jones, Sven-Goran Eriksson, Sir Bobby Robson and John Madejski. Presently our coaching links are with Reading FC and Coerver Coaching. This association is now four years old and is proving to be a real success for our school teams.
Alongside school football teams, large numbers of boys compete in Senior and Junior House League matches, usually twice a week. Towards the end of the Michaelmas Half, the Senior and Junior knockout competitions form the climax of the internal season. Boys not making their House League side can also play competitively in the North American (senior) or Patagonian (junior) Leagues. So there are plenty of opportunities for boys of all ages and abilities to enjoy football, either competitively or just for fun."
a slightly sideways look at your situation .....
Southampton FC have a youth programme second to none - they finance the team through it - and they send scouts to all of the local schools (state and private) - so if your DS is truly gifted and you take him to one of the weekly tryouts, Saints will sort the logistics with the school to arrange the training.
A lad in DS year is well into the programme that Theo Walcott and others have trodden before ...
Happy gardening, how many matches did the Eton College U15A football team have this year against other schools? Or the U14A or U16A for that matter.
I can only find record of 2.
Eton really isn't a football school. I'm not sure that it has produced a professional footballer in the last three decades. But it has at least 3 times the number of rugby and hockey fixtures than it does football.
As I said, all boys schools have boys who play football, and many schools have teams who play occasional matches. That is very different from saying that the school is a football school.
Try Charterhouse. Definately, a football school and a good commute to London.
My son's school, one of the list provided by HappyGardening, certainly played at Eton this year. This would not have been their only fixture. I had planned to go and watch, as I liked the idea of trying out their tea and seeing their grounds, but unfortunately could not make it.
Some private schools are known for their rugby, others are seen as football schools. I was very happy for my son to go to a school that played football not rugby. Princess Diana famously did not want her sons to play rugby...they ended up at Eton.
ladymuck Have just checked the Eton sports results online as I was surprised by your comment about only finding 2 matches.
14A had 13 matches in the autumn term
15A had 14 matches
Equally interesting was the fact that the 14E team had 10, 14F had 7 and the 14G had 5 matches.
Possibly you looked at the matches this term? I believe they play hockey this term hence the lack of football fixtures.
All of the league football teams have scouts that go to local clubs to talent spot. Children are then signed up for that team's academy and progress (or not) according to their ability. Being at a sporty independent school really won't give any advantage as pretty much all state schools play football (unlike rugby). If your ds is very talented in football then he can play for a local team and be scouted for a league team and county and progress that way. My dn was spotted from an early age for cricket and rugby but is at state school. He has chosen to progress with cricket and had a number of teams wanting to sign him. The fact that he wasn't at an independent school made no difference, although had he wanted to he would have easily got a sports scholarship (my db is against selective and private education).
The other thing to be aware of is how competitive it is. A friend's ds was signed by a league team at 7 but dropped at 14 as he hadn't grown enough (even though he was still a very good footballer). It can be hard to deal with that. Fortunately he is also a fab cricketer so is pursuing that instead.
Eton field at least 5 teams at each year group at both rugby and football. And 3 VIIIs on the river. It's a big school.
In the 19th century football became popular in English public schools, and Eton was instrumental in its development. The Football Association was founded in 1863, basing its rules on those developed in the public schools. The FA Cup was first competed for in 1872, and the Old Etonians (OEs) won it twice, in 1879 and 1882, and were six times runners-up before the professional game developed. They were the last amateur team to win it, and the last public school to reach the final. Lord Kinnaird was captain of the OEs in 1882, and later became President of the FA. Arthur Dunn was another famous OE and international footballer.
Football retains its popularity at Eton. Up to 24 teams from all age groups represent the school on a regular basis throughout the Michaelmas Half. Long-standing fixtures include Winchester, Westminster, Charterhouse, Bradfield and Shrewsbury. The Association (1st XI) compete in the prestigious annual Boodles Independent Schools Football Association (ISFA) Cup and the U15As in the Rensburg Sheppards ISFA Cup. These are both national competitions and Eton regularly reach the last sixteen
Since the 1950s the senior players have gone on pre-season tours almost every year and recent venues have included Monaco & Italy, China, Spain, USA & Canada and Japan. Visiting teams from all over the world also come to Eton to play against our teams, and recent visitors have included teams from Australia, Japan, USA, the Channel Islands and Holland.
After leaving Eton, many boys continue with their football, playing for the OEs or representing their university. Indeed, in 2008 three old boys won Football Blues playing for Oxford in the Varsity Match at Craven Cottage.
ladymuck ardingly is definitely a football school. It barely plays rugby. Same with Bradfield, both of which are mentioned in the op
ladymuck in your original posting you said "football isn't really a main sport at any indie schools really". You did not say "Eton has never produced a professional football player!" If you knew anything about any of the "big name" senior independent schools you would know that it's mainly ruby in the autumn term (not all schools do rugby of course) and football in the Michelmas term and that nearly all schools will have a football team(s) at every year with regular fixtures along regular interhouse fixtures as well.
If you're looking for day schools - yes, Hampton big on both football and rugby, Alleyn's co-ed very much a football school (don't think it plays rugby)....under current news is an article on an ISFA final between Eton and Alley's in fact. Sadly - we're in Surrey, so all rugby schools where we are now!
Charterhouse is definitely in Surrey!!! Cranleigh is also definitely in Surrey know to be very sporty I'll eat my lap top if they don't play football can't access their website!
I didn't say that these schools don't play football, but that inter school football in the UK is low key. Many senior rugby professionals come through on the back of school rugby, similarly hockey, and school tournaments get reported in the main sports press. Football professionals tend to come through via academies, not public schools. If the OPs son is keen on football and is generally sporty then I don't think she should limit herself to such a handful of schools.
I am familiar with the pattern of boys sports, and even know that Michaelmas is usually the autumn term and therefore the rugby/football term. But state schools (and some private) play inter school football year round, hence I wouldn't think of schools, big name or not, who just play football for one term as being "big on football".
Yes but the OP hasn't said she wants her son to be a professional footballer has she? Just that she wants her son to go to a school which is primarily thought of as a football school so that he can play football to a high level?
No school will play football at as high a level as an academy linked to a Premiership football team, hence my suggestion up thread. There is absolutely nothing to be gained by going to a 'good football school' if it is the OP's intention for her ds to play football to a high level. Ds's old school is very sporty but the boys who got picked up by Chelsea did so via their local clubs not school.
Disagree bisjo. My DS plays football to a high level, although despite not because, he was at one of those schools. However, I know of one boy at his school who was looked at by a club because it was instigated by the school and went on to have a contract with them at 18.
Precisely. Which is why there is no reason for the op to limit her school choices to the 4 named in her op just because the GSG list them as being good for football.
Choosing a school from overseas is a difficult task. What strikes me is that the OP has named 2 boys only day schools with main admissions at 11+, a co-ed boarding school, and a 50:50 mixed day and boarding co-ed school. I would suggest that for any child the choice of single-sex v co-ed, or day v boarding is far more important than the prominence given to football (to say nothing of the suburban v more rural locations), and I would start with those aspects, include consideration of what size of school might suit (Whitgift is twice the size of Ardingly for example), and only look at football fixtures as a tie-break. I really wouldn't view football performance as a big thing, as any sporty school will have boys playing football - ds plays football daily at his "rugby" school even though it is now the hockey term!
There are always exceptions but I'd be surprised if that is more usual than going via local clubs. I know several boys contracted at different clubs and all did it through their local clubs (different areas of the country too) rather than their state/private schools.
If your ds plays football at a high level what have you said to the school about them failing to contact league clubs to see him?
Bisjo He was already signed to a club when he joined the school
as I said on the Netball thread ....
a Uni friend who has two Olympic medals was sent to a school that left them free to do the sport in their own time, not a sport school.
Then Bowlersarm I'm not sure what your point is
That the school, being a football school, got another boy into a professional club!
Maybe you should PM the name of the school to the OP so they can do the same.
odd that they signed him at 18 : clubs normally aim for much younger than that so that the kids are locked in until they become valuable.
I can pm the OP if she would like. However I keep rereading her post and it doesn't say she wants him to be a professional footballer just that he would like to play football at school.
I don't think it is a question of being valuable talkinpeace. The boy I am talking about did get a one year professional contact at 18 which I believe has then since been extended. A lot of private schools have exceptional coaches who have the ear of a lot of scouts, and can get the trials with the professional clubs.
In my DS's case it was a bit of a PITA as club football conflicted with school football as he was signed at a much younger age. The schools would love to 'discover' a footballer, or any other sport, talent and are in a position to help them on in the future. Well IMO!!
At ds's old school they had dcs who were elite athletes and the school was very good about them taking time out of their studies to meet their sporting commitments. Dn's school is good too and that is a state school. Ime the schools like the prestige of their name being linked to sporting achievements.
None of the elite athletes I know were 'discovered' by their school sporting depts.
Hmmmm are you suggesting I am being untruthful bisjo?
schools are great at taking the credit for work done outside the school day
Uni friend even got grief for missing lectures to go to Olympic training camp.
Bowlers no not at all. I'd be disappointed if I were you that your ds's school is not more supportive of your ds's sporting commitments.
Dn puts his external sporting commitments above his school ones and even though he is the school's star player they are happy with that. They understand that he has the opportunity to make a career from something he loves and hopefully get to play for England.
I'm nervous to say too much because i love the anonymity of MN so don't want to out myself! However our experience of DS being an elite footballer was at total odds to what the school wanted. Having been signed with the club before he went to the school our loyalty lay with the club rather then the school, and it didn't go down well when matches coincided.
In my opinion, what schools (or at least the private school we were at) want is a talented child who they are able to 'bring on' in the particular sport they excel, and therefore then take the credit
Dn's school prospectus is full of the pupils' external sporting achievements.
totally get what you are saying
company I worked for had a UK squad (ladies) footballer on the payroll and her schools had always been offish
my Uni friend wore his Olympic medal into lectures in the autumn term and STILL the tutors were ungracious : it made us laugh that they wanted the credit without the work ....
Clearly my DS should have gone to your DN's school! I have to say we were disappointed in their treatment of DS. He is a fab popular boy but because we didn't toe the line and put professional club over school club they were very unhappy with us. It makes me really cross actually as he himself tried hard all the time (exceptional at cricket too) but if you look at their prospectus he doesn't get a mention despite being the highest achiever at football . Bitter, me, no!
However I still maintain that if you are a notch or two below elite it would be a great place to go because they would try and improve you, and get you somewhere, then that would have been their achievement and the kudos would have been in finding someone for the club.
Where's the OP,by the way?
Oh thank you talkin thought I was sounding unreal!
practicing penalty kicks
and DCs school covers the walls with kids who excel at sports - even ones that the school has nothing to do with like stock car racing :-)
He could have gone to ds's old school or dn's current school, both would have celebrated his achievements. Ds's current school probably does too but we haven't been there long enough to know.
Dn's prospectus mentions the various clubs the dcs play for. They have been very accommodating with dn missing lessons to attend training.
I agree with Bowlersarm - the OP hasn't said that her DS is academy standard, just that he wants a "football" school. I agree that other factors are much more important in choosing a school. If he is not going to board, then the best thing to do would be to find a good local team nearby to where you end up living. What tends to happen is that there are area leagues of various levels so he would be able to find a team that fits the standard of his play.
Very few schools have provision for elite sports, whether football or anything else. It depends on what OP is looking for.
I had read her post as looking for a school with a lot of football going on, eg that there would be an activity that her son could participate in from the start, and, since team sport was taken seriously, would allow him to make an early contribution to school life.
In terms of elite sport, there are exceptions. Millfield has the room and facilities to support future Olympians and will offer significant scholarships, and other schools such as Kelly College have a number of students participating in top level sport. However normally the best that can be hoped for is either a partnership between the school and a club, or good signposting by school sports staff towards suitable clubs.
This is often on an ad hoc or accidental basis, perhaps starting with an individual games teacher having a strong specialism. For example Surbiton High that has a strong reputation for gymnastics. Elsewhere in London Dulwich College, has always had a reputation for developing elite sportsmen in certain sports, and Whitgift is rapidly gaining the same, though often in different sports. It is highly likely that that different football academies have built links with local schools who understand and are sympathetic to dual demands placed on promising sports people.
A good example of partnership between a school and sports club is Plymouth College and Plymouth Leander Swimming Club, which got Rūta Meilutytė, age 15, to a gold at the 2012 Olympics, with Tom Daley gaining a silver in diving.
If you are aiming to be an elite sports person you probably need to find the coach/training centre first and then work out schooling. It might well be better to be at a school which is sympathetic and flexible and which does not expect you to turn out for school teams.
If OP simply looking for a school with a lot of good quality school football going on, then look to see who features in inter-school competitions, and then check with the school that your son is of a sufficient standard, or that there are enough teams, to play regularly for a team.
I should not have cut and pasted a name with accents: Ruta Meilutyte
I loved her face when she won gold at 15 and could not believe it, and the interview afterwards where she was unable to speak.
Tom Daley got bronze not silver although if there were a prize for crowd cheering he would have got gold (we were there). Spot on re finding a school/club partnership. Bowlers is a good example of where this didn't work and caused problems. Dn's school definitely encourages its pupils external sporting activities and celebrates them.
If the OP's ds is already playing at a club in Asia then they would probably have contacts in the UK that could help the OP to pick a club and from there to pick a school. Eg Reading FC has a very good academy and Reading Blue Coat school has a very good reputation for football. Reading has lots of fast trains into London (school is on east side of Reading near Sonning).
Reading Academy trial details
Ds's secondary modern has had two players in the England u18 squad- but I suspect that is not what the OP means!!
I never get why schools think it's a good idea to try and claim credit for activities/results which the children clearly do in their own time.
One of our local schools has a beautiful picture of two girls en pointe as the main picture on the front of its website. They don't teach ballet at the school...
I'm not sure it is about schools claiming credit but more about acknowledging and supporting their achievements. Dn gets time off lessons to pursue his sport and his school fully supports that.
Oh, I agree supporting those things is really important: I just think it looks a bit desperate to have something like that as a key image which is clearly nothing to do with the school (where arguably you could say something like football was jointly thanks to the school and local club, say).
I agree, Books. But marketing and image are all nowadays.
I know. Being married to someone who sits on his school's SLT and has marketing as part of his remit...(it's not his school with the ballerinas, btw!)
And don't get me started on mission statements and strap lines!
Ha! Strap lines! They either say nothing, or something they didn't mean to say or are tautological or ungrammatical...most of the time.
I am desperate to tell you my ds's school's strap line- - but I just googled it and his school comes up top so I can't without his permission. Presumably it comes up top because it is so ghastly in every way nobody else would touch it with a bargepole!
Now I really want to know.
The tautology I refer to is at dh's school (he was off on a period of long-term sickness and someone kindly re-wrote his strap line such that it now makes no sense at all).
Hampton School have 7 football teams in each year, and the A, B and C teams are all offered extra training during lunch times (three lunchtimes a week for the overall first team and two for the second team, Under 16As, Under 15As, and one lunchtime per week for every one else).
As you can probably see here:
Hampton, Charterhouse and Millfield have done best in schoolboy football.
In terms of professional careers, there's a list here:
Not altogether amazing, but a number (8) from Brentwood School, which may partly reflect the fact that it's not generally for the brightest boys, so less pressure perhaps to go on to Oxbridge or whatever.
WOW - thank you all so much for your input . Been offline due to no network at home , but back now and truly thankful for the comments posted. They have made me re-assess or re-define what I'm actually looking for, and I realise that my 4 preferred schools have very little in common except the football.
Coming from Asia, my son could well be a very small fish in a big pond back in the UK, so whilst I have no inflated ideas on his skills, I just want to see him play as much as possible and with the best coaching possible - not just the old history teacher.
He will no doubt join a local club too because school football is never enough for him - and in a fairystory world he will get discovered. However, YES the other aspects of school life warrant attention too.
The posting which mentioned my disparate choice of schools has made me focus a little more on the differences e.g single sex , boarding etc, although having said that I'm still no clearer in which direction to head in. I think I want the crystal ball .......
However A few questions spring to my (newbie) mind
- if its a boarding school - will he finish late and have to do saturday school ?
- if its a London school (hampton or whitgift) - do the boys get the micky taken out of them for attending an indep school by others in the surrounding areas ? I saw one of these schools gives lessons to their boys on how to avoid trouble and stay safe. Whilst I appreciate this lesson in life, I'm wondering if there were any incidences that have prompted these sessions.
We have lead a very cosseted life here in Asia, and the thought of sending him into the big wide world, gives me kittens !!! I have no idea how these lovely independent schools compare to our very safe environment here.
Im probably sounding over-protective (and rambling) but essentially just want what we all want - a happy and fun school experience.
PS I have added Bede's School (eastbourne way) to my list after consulting ISFA website then the schools website. Any views ??
Can't help with anything else, but can say that Hampton boys fit in very "naicely" in the Hampton area. It's an area where I think 60% of DCs go to private secondary, so they really don't stand out.
Hampton School is right next to Hampton School which is not a "naice" school at all. Have in the past had issues with Academy boys picking on Hampton School boys at local public bus stops. Not sure if this is still an issue, though.
My name is Nick Tester and I am the Head of Boys Sport and, in particular, Football at Ardingly College. One of our parents brought this thread to my attention.
Basically, Football is quickly growing in the Independent sector. Many ex professional footballers are now working in schools such as the ones mentioned and they are all very good and high quality. Just speaking in terms of Ardingly, two boys in the last two years have been given professional contracts at the age of 18 and one is currently the captain on the Full English Schools team.
I think that going down the Independent school route gives you the chance of a great education, but also the chance to pursue one's dreams if your son is good enough to play at that level. We have developed an Academy that train 11-12 hours a week and play professional clubs on Sundays, as well as fulfilling a fixture list on Saturdays against other Independent Schools.
Basically, the link to our video describing this is here:
And the link to our website where the programme is described is here:
Do have a look and contact me if you would like to come and have a look around.
In the UK schools do not really get you into sports like football so its largely not relevant. Your son has as much chance of being scouted (probably more) playing sunday games or with a club youth squad than at any school. The words 'sports academy' generally means the school neglects other areas in preference for sports because they get more funding and is no indication of good educational standards.
That's not quite true. Certainly you are correct about the term academy as it is far too overused. However, the Sunday League system isn't necessarily the best way. Sometimes the training given is not the strongest and the facilities they play in are poor. We work with around 15 professional clubs, playing them in fixtures and linking with them, and they are then able to keep in touch with our players.
Added to that, training within the boarding school system gives the player time. Time where they aren't travelling, time to focus on their studies when not training (meaning that they aren't suffering educationally from the training), and also time to be late developers perhaps as there is no cut off as there certainly is in clubs.
The idea of neglecting other areas isn't true either. One of our lads who is now playing for Leeds United was also a very talented pianist and a top academic, achieving 36 in his final IB scores. Being at an Independent School such as Ardingly allowed him to develop a broad amount of interests whilst putting him on a stage to perform in football with the correct training and expertise.
Used to teach at Bradfield. Lovely school for all rounders but football mad! Yes to Saturday school but they got Tues and Thurs pm off for sport instead. Loads of matches and teams. Now co-ed so much will have changed but it produced great pupils and sport was king!
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