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Sports scholarships at London independent schools and boarding schools

(28 Posts)
londonkids Sat 13-Apr-13 19:46:33

I have a very sporty DS. He plays football in his school team, tennis tournaments through his local club, swims well and rugby competitively. He attends a state primary but we would like him to attend an independent school, either day or boarding. Does anyone have any experience of getting one, or can give advice on what schools offer them, or are there particular sports preferred by schools and does anyone have any info on the tennis scholarships at Reed School? Thank you

difficultpickle Sat 13-Apr-13 20:16:36

How old is he? From what I know senior school scholarships would expect county level performance.

difficultpickle Sat 13-Apr-13 20:21:15

I would also pick your school carefully. Some can be very supportive of outside interests but others will expect your ds to be available for school matches. Dn was a county level at cricket and rugby. The commitment was high and he chose to pursue cricket. His school are very accommodating with giving him time out to attend a cricket academy during school time and he is well on his way in pursuing his dream of an England team place thanks to that support.

AuntieStella Sat 13-Apr-13 20:30:32

If the school is after specific sports, it will probably list them on the website, along with basic information on level expected in main sport/s and how many subsidiary sports (usually anything) they like to see.

There will usually be some sort of trials day, alongside the ordinary academic applications procedure. Candidates will need to meet the basic academic pass mark in exam, and interview well enough.

Best bet is to make a point of finding the head of games at each potential school when you go on an open day tour and talk through what they look for. You can then ask the specific questions about how they support existing external coaching, level of commitment expected to school team/s and work out the attitude they are likely to take when these collide.

The obvious place to look in London is Dulwich - their First XV has just won the U-18s National Cup for second year running.

londonkids Sat 13-Apr-13 20:35:38

Can you tell me what school your DS is at? I wondered if it was mostly boarding schools who offered sports scholarships. He is 8. Was your DS county level at cricket and rugby in primary school?

Bowlersarm Sat 13-Apr-13 20:38:42

Hi bisjo, we were on another thread together about this?

OP reeds is considered an amazing sports school particularly tennis (Tim Henman was there, I believe) and cricket - fantastic cricket coaching and facilities.

How old is your DS? Many top flight schools expect county/international standard but some may see beyond this and go for raw talent. A lot of schools expect a high academic standard as well

londonkids Sat 13-Apr-13 20:41:21

Auntie stellar , do you mean Dulwich College? I had heard they have had problems for many years with drugs , in fact I knew lots of boys who went there and they didn't leave in too good a shape so a little put off by that school, but obviously the rugby team is very fit and healthy!

AuntieStella Sat 13-Apr-13 20:55:25

I do mean Dulwich College, and I've never heard of notoriety for drugs (it's a problem in any London day school state or private tbh, what matters is how the school deals with it - possibly something else to ask at an one day at every school).

It's very good for many sports, but you don't have to be a jock to thrive there - very much on the up in everything under last and current (newish) head. I don't know anything about its standards in tennis, though.

difficultpickle Sat 13-Apr-13 21:27:46

Not sure what age but he was in whatever the youngest squad they have. From my googling that would have made him 12 which is primary/prep where we are. Before that he was always first pick and captain in his local team. He is now 17 and playing senior cricket and in the academy squad.

You could tell from an early age, and certainly by 8, that he was exceptionally talented. Ds is 8 and his local cricket club was excited when he started playing cricket there a couple of years ago (same club that my dn used to play at). I had to point out that there was no comparision between ds and dn (although the club soon worked that out grin).

difficultpickle Sat 13-Apr-13 21:34:36

As far as I can work out only 2 of the 14 in the academy came from boarding schools (Radley and Harrow). The others are all named as playing for their local cricket clubs.

KingscoteStaff Sat 13-Apr-13 22:31:19

Alleyns offers sports scholarships at 11, Dulwich not until 13. What about Trinity or Whitgift?

KingscoteStaff Sat 13-Apr-13 22:33:04

Oh, and Alleyns want at least one sport at County level and another 2 at club first team level. I'm guessing that would be a similar expectation for Dulwich.

AuntieStella Sun 14-Apr-13 00:16:12

Alleyns don't play rugby - so if that's a main sport of his, he'd have to pursue it away from school and that might lead to a further level of difficulty in unscrambling clashing club/school commitments.

You need to check the value of the scholarship too. They aren't means tested, and will be of a fixed value. If you think you might need a bursary on top, that's a whole further set of admissions hoops to go through.

happygardening Sun 14-Apr-13 09:11:30

You mention boarding but many traditional boarding schools start at year 9 which is going to be a problem if you're in a state primary.
Secondly the more academically select will require your DS to pass an entrance test this may not be a problem but you need to be aware of this.
I also agree that many sports scholarships come with very small financial rewards those that come automatically with larger ones will be very fought over.
The standard is going to vary from school to school Milfield are going to want sportsmen/women of outstanding talent, others schools won't set the bar so high. Every year at my DS2's old prep 2-3 won sports scholarships to well known boarding schools Tonbridge, Kings Canterbury, Cranleigh not one played at county level as it was then a full boarding prep so they was insufficient time this is not to say they weren't county standard. They were usually captain of the first 11/15/A's etc obviously a strong term of winnings was advantageous but in a small school where the calibre of you team mates is not guaranteed not essential nnd usually won or were well placed in yearly completions e.g the schools annual x country run, regional interprep comps, the annual golf comp and even parent versus child comps.
I believe to get a scholarship you go to your chosen school for the day and play in various matches so I suppose if your very talented it will be obvious even if you've never played in a county match in your life. Having unidentified a school(s) it's worth speaking to the relevant head of games and establishing exactly what level they are looking for.

happygardening Sun 14-Apr-13 09:13:55

Identified not unidentified!

happygardening Sun 14-Apr-13 10:04:15

Christ's Hospital is full boarding from yr 7 and offers sports scholarships it's never appealed to me but I know friends who've sent their DC's there and love it I also know of a couple who've removed their children after a short period and moved them to another boarding school.
A mum on MN called "Derekthehamster" has a DC there she seems happy to answer questions.

difficultpickle Sun 14-Apr-13 11:04:00

I think the talent comment is absolutely right. When ds started playing cricket one of his friends who started at the same time was quickly moved up to an older age group because he was so good. He is someone I'd expect to go on and play county level sport. Dn was identified at 6 as being very talented in both rugby and cricket, as was ds's friend. Anyone watching him could see he was clearly the best player by far.

basildonbond Sun 14-Apr-13 11:04:50

If he's at state primary now presumably you'll be looking at moving him for Year 7?

Most schools will need him to be at county standard for team sports like cricket and rugby and higher for individual sports like tennis or swimming as they simply don't need so many children to make up a competitive team. To get to that standard it would mean belonging to a club outside school as the standard of school sports especially at primary level tends to be lower

If your preference is for day schools you need to look at location and work out how easy it will be to get your son there and back bearing in mind that he will probably have to practise after school and have matches at weekends etc

Then you need to look at which sports the school excels in - e.g. hockey at Kingston grammar, tennis & cricket at Reeds, rugby at Dulwich, pretty much everything at Whitgift. Of those you then need to work out which would be the best fit for your son academically - obviously if he's absolutely astoundingly brilliant most schools will lower the bar if need be but it's not much fun being in the bottom sets of an über-academic school however sporty you are if your talents don't lie in that direction

Then you need to work out how much you can afford and whether or not you'd need a bursary as well - although some schools have sports scholarships of 'up to 30%' the vast majority of awards will be in the 5-10% range, nice to have but it's not going to make a substantial dent in the fees

The only sporty boarding school I know anything about is Millfield as we briefly considered it for ds1 - for his sport scholarships are awarded on a sliding scale depending on how far within the national qualifying times you are which means that to get 50% off the fees you'd need to be on the top 5 at your age group nationally and STILL have to find another £15,000+ a year. Millfield is also not particularly academic and full of exceptionally rich children ...

The other thing to bear in mind is that your ds is only 8 and may well change in the next few years - at ds' primary there was one boy in his year who was outstandingly talented at both tennis and football - was on Chelsea academy plus a G&T programme provided by the LTA - I bumped into his mum when he was about 13 and asked how he was getting on and he'd given up both sports in favour of music ...

happygardening Sun 14-Apr-13 11:20:57

Would you consider a sports scholarships into a boarding prep I think Wellesley House Prep offer sports scholarships, maybe Dragon and others will, you might have missed it if your DS is in yr 3 but if you don't enquire you won't know. The advantage of a boarding prep is that there will be games/PE four to five days a week, many will have good facilities for this age group, sometimes specialised coaches; the coach at my DS2's old prep for his slightly niche sport coaches the youth GB team as well or regular training sessions with top UK coaches. This is why his smallish prep achieve so many good scholarships every year.

difficultpickle Sun 14-Apr-13 11:29:15

You also need to consider how they develop physically. I know someone who was on the books of a league football team. Fantastic player but he was dropped as he hadn't grown to the size they said he needed to be. Very hard. Dn had to commit to a very strict diet and exercise regime in his teenage years that he struggled with to start with. Having done so he is seeing the results and fortunately he has the perfect physique for what he wants to do.

He is at state school and there are a number of boys who play county level sport and are on the books of premiership teams.

londonkids Sun 14-Apr-13 18:00:34

At the moment I would say tennis is his strongest sport and he has been picked out by a club as someone with possible future professional talent, but it is obviously only possible and he is only just 8 and I do see better players of his age, so I was thinking maybe Reed school? I wondered if anyone had any experience of Reed, one of our tennis coaches's children has sent his child there on a scholarship and was happy but I've never asked him what discount in fees he got. I get the impression that you are all saying he's got more chance of getting a scholarship at secondary if he transfers to a prep school as soon as possible as they'll have more sporting facilities and time spent doing sport. I wouldn't want to have him board now as I didn't board till I was 13 and I feel that's a good age to board, but would consider boarding at 11, but no earlier really for him. What sports do you all consider the ones that independent schools really like - rugby and cricket?? He doesn't play cricket but there are local clubs to me, is that one I should try him out at, he plays it with his grandad and loves it I just haven't had the time to take him to any clubs.

difficultpickle Sun 14-Apr-13 18:17:52

Ds is 8 and at a prep. Only the girls play tennis so you need to check carefully what sports they offer if you are thinking of prep.

Good prep sports are definitely rugby and cricket although I don't know any preps that offer sport scholarships. The ones I know offer academic and choral scholarships at prep age. I also don't think it is necessary to go to private school if you have access to good sporting facilities through clubs. If your coach has recommended Reeds then I would speak to them and also ask the coach what he did re schooling prior to Reeds. Fees seem pretty reasonable for boarding but the day fees are high.

difficultpickle Sun 14-Apr-13 18:19:32

I would also only encourage sports that he absolutely loves. Having a scholarship is a big commitment both for the pupil and the school and if it is in a sport he doesn't really enjoy it will be hard to maintain the required enthusiasm.

LIZS Sun 14-Apr-13 18:21:39

Unless you pick very carefully tennis on its own won't be enough . Most require excellence, or demonstrable potential for, in at least 2 sports and an all rounded aptitude. So playing at a good level in a team sport would also be an advantage - either through school or at club level.

AuntieStella Sun 14-Apr-13 18:58:26

If he's 8 and talented at tennis, then the main way to pursue that would be through LTA. What level tournaments is he playing in, and what is his rating?

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