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Private school sports

(30 Posts)
Turquoiseisblue Sun 09-Nov-14 21:42:14

Just wondering if anyone knows how easy it might be to get DS out of playing endless weekend sports if should go to private school? He's in year 6 and is blessed with the twin traits of being tall, fast and rather good at almost any sport he put his mind to but also a deep hatred of cold wet fields! He's aware he'll have to participate to a certain extent but the idea of giving up his Saturdays is too much for him. Most of the schools state that extracurricular activities are optional - but also that they are expected to represent the school when required.
We don't like to ask directly for fear of it being a black mark against his application but it's actually putting him off his otherwise favourite choice.
He does love cricket (warmer in the summer) which will at least mean one term is ok but also means he can't pretend he can't catch for the rugby selection grin
Has anyone got any advice or experience?


Leeds2 Sun 09-Nov-14 22:03:22

My experience at my DD's school is that they all have to do a particular sport in PE, but only those who go to the after school club get picked for the teams. There will probably be lots of boys who will be far more enthusiastic than your DS, so I wouldn't let this put him off.

Many schools do have Saturday (morning or all day) as compulsory, regardless of whether they are playing in a school team.

Coconutty Sun 09-Nov-14 22:07:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Turquoiseisblue Sun 09-Nov-14 22:10:14

Thanks Leeds smile
They appear to have 4 teams for a year of only 100 boys and DS has had experience of being pressured into playing A team sport in the past by an overly keen football coach! As I say there is this inconsistent message about 'optional' Saturdays but compulsory representational sport confused

skylark2 Sun 09-Nov-14 22:10:38

I'd suspect that if he actively hates rugby he's unlikely to be (or appear to be) good enough at it to get into a school team, unless it's a tiny school.

DS also loathes team ball sports. Teams are selected from the lunchtime and after school clubs which he doesn't go to because he's not interested (and in any case is always in orchestra / choir / digeridoo practice / insert all available musical activities here).

Saturday school is on the way out round here - the only remaining school which did it stopped a couple of years ago.

FlyingFortress Sun 09-Nov-14 22:27:57

I would ask the question from a "positive" skew, because in my experience it is fairly compulsory for the first couple of years. So you might want to ask "which sports get played each term", "how many teams get to play matches each week" "how many termly fixtures are there?" "What happens if boys don't get picked?" You may of course be able to work this out from the school calendar, or from which lists fixtures.

At one local school boys not in teams still have to turn up for Saturday practice in the first year, and most of the rest aim to have most of their years 7 & 8 playing. Year 9 seems to be typically the year where it becomes more voluntary.

MillyMollyMama Sun 09-Nov-14 23:50:04

How easy, or difficult, will it be for him to mask his ability in normal sports lessons? In my experience talented sporty pupils are spotted and then expected to do the coaching sessions as they are selected for the team squads. Presumably a pupil could refuse but if you are choosing a private school I would be amazed if this would go down very well. The expectations are that you support the school if you are chosen to do so. I would have a frank discussion with the school about his warm weather sport preferences. I would also stop encouraging him in this attitude.

senua Sun 09-Nov-14 23:50:18

It depends on the mentality of the school. If they believe in things like "it's not the winning, it the taking part" and "healthy bodies, healthy minds" then they will field A, B, C and D squads for the first few years.

Turquoiseisblue Mon 10-Nov-14 00:37:07

Hmm, quite like the idea of Saturday digeridoo lessons that get mysteriously dropped every summer!
I guess I don't discourage the freezing field hatred as much as I should. I'm rather glad he's not into rugby to be honest as I'd be a nervous wreck worrying he'd break his neck. But yes, that attitude from the school is exactly the concern. They are a sporty school and believe in both winning and fielding 4 teams a year. They also have a very good performing arts dept and excellent academic record and DS reports several of his friends have it as their first choice.

angelcake20 Mon 10-Nov-14 00:47:59

I'm afraid that at yr7 DS's school anyone who is relatively sporty has automatically been put on one of the teams and therefore required to go to 2 after school sessions and Saturday mornings. DS is not enjoying the baptism of fire that has been his introduction to rugby but has responded to my offer to try and get him out of the team (they have to do it in Games, obviously) with "there's no more reason why I should get out of it than everybody else who doesn't want to do it". One of his class mates has been allowed to leave the team as he was disliking it so much. DS has also determined that if he has to do it, he might as well be as good as he can at it, though so far I'm hoping that his extreme lack of enthusiasm for tackles will get him thrown off. However the school was very clear before he started that Saturday mornings were school's, even if you were not sporty. There are open mornings once a month and house events. I'm therefore not bothered so much by the Saturday mornings but the after school sessions that mean he does not have time to do all the other things he was looking forward to. I was naive enough for it not to cross my mind that he might be required to be on a team for a sport he doesn't want to do (he too loves cricket so the summer will be better).

Taz1212 Mon 10-Nov-14 06:52:43

At DS' school there is a strong focus on rugby and Saturday morning games/practice. When you go along to the Open Day they pretty much make it sound compulsory and I was rather dreading it because his school is some distance away and DS is not the rugby type! The reality turned out to be that almost all the boys do play rugby but there is no pressure to do so. DS did try it for a term but decided he wasn't that keen. The small group of boys who don't fancy rugby do other sports during games at school and Saturday mornings are ours at least until gung ho DD starts there and throws herself into hockey grin

WorkingItOutAsIGo Mon 10-Nov-14 08:30:22

I will go against the grain here. Lots of team sports is probably one of the most valuable benefits of private school and I would suggest you shouldn't be actively seeking to get him out of it. My DCs have not just gained fitness, but friends, fun, camaraderie with their team mates, good life lessons about handling victory and defeat well. My DC1 is now at uni and one of his new best mates is someone he used to play against every term - they do get to know the kids at other schools too. And we as parents have not only enjoyed supporting their matches but have made many new friends.

It would be a shame to go to a school that takes this so seriously and not join in - in fact your son would probably regret not taking part and would miss out on bonding experiences with friends if the culture is so pro sport. So maybe reconsider your choice of school?

SonorousBip Mon 10-Nov-14 08:46:09

My DS is fairly rubbish average at his school's chosen sport and he makes it into the D team, and i don't think they are very different to most schools. I think if you are good, you probably won't get much choice. Ds said something about right at the beginning of Y7 they were given trials and some people were told squad training was compulsory, some were told it was entirely voluntary (LOL), and some were told it was strongly recommended. He has afterschool training once a week and a match pretty much every weekend.

It is certainly much more than I had bargained for and involves quite a bit of shlepping at the weekends, which is a bit of a bugger when you have other children etc

Having said that, we are pretty much in favour: he is getting fit, the approach at the school is excellent (they are serious about it without being in the slightest aggresive/win at all costs), he is mixing with different sets of boys in his year, mixing with different teachers and generally picking up some fairly good life skills. Its probably a good use of time for a 13 year old. .

Clavinova Mon 10-Nov-14 09:22:49

I would agree with previous posters; being involved in sport is a great way to make friends at senior school.

Is he certain to make the A team? Most private schools will offer a number of sports scholarships to attract very sporty boys and so your ds might only be picked for the B team anyway. IME the B team plays fewer fixtures than the A team and the C and D teams only play half as many fixtures. Cricket often gets cancelled due to rain.

One other thought - are you going to 'play down' his sporting ability on the application form? Most parents will be doing the complete opposite and 'enhancing' their dc's sporting ability if not already applying for a sports scholarship. Do you run the risk of your ds not getting a place at the school? How popular is the school/how academic is your ds? Most independent schools are looking for dcs to fill their sports teams, orchestras and drama productions as well as keeping an eye on league tables.

iseenodust Mon 10-Nov-14 09:52:15

DS age10 is sporty and doesn't like rugby, loves football. What he realised though was that his friends were the sporty set and he didn't want to miss out on the first rugby trip away (which also featured a waterpark, bowling & pizza!) so he's a good B team player but the coach recognises he isn't ever going to be a hard tackler. I think your DS will come round to match Saturdays as they will be social. What does he plan to do with his Saturdays that he doesn't want to give up? I think you have to accept the school ethos if you are going to choose it otherwise it's 5 years of battling.

stealthsquiggle Mon 10-Nov-14 10:05:19

Hmm. My experience would be that if you are fast and sporty then you will be put in a team. If you resist pressure to join extra training sessions that might be the B team rather than the As, but you're not going to get out of normal timetabled games anyway, so is it really worth going to a lot of trouble to get out of matches (which, for most DC, are the fun bit)?

My DS loves rugby and cricket and is competent but not brilliant. OTOH he loathes football, but if put into a football team of any sort then he turns up and does his best (including being made captain). This has nothing whatsoever to do with me, given that I went through my entire school career without being picked for any sports team, and everything to so with the school ethos. As you suspect in your OP, most of the DC and the staff would take a fairly dim view of someone who could but didn't want to do their best for the school, for whichever team they are picked for.

One get out might be if he is fast enough to take up something like cross country (still muddy fields, but less rolling in it!) - excelling in an individual sport could get him out of team sports to an extent, and the cross country season seems to co-incident with the rugby season although TBH the cross country team in DS's year are also the 1st XV backs

IndridCold Mon 10-Nov-14 10:21:10

The trick is to choose the most popular sport, then his chances of being picked to play in a team each week are reduced although he might not avoid it altogether.

And buy him a decent base layer grin.

OldBeanbagz Mon 10-Nov-14 11:18:31

When you're buying your DS a decent base layer, don't forget to buy yourself some warm clothing and wellies!

My DS is in the cross country/athletics team at school and has to represent the school at events (we once had 3 events in one week). It can get very cold watching events.

We'll have had 5 Saturday commitments by Christmas so i feel your pain but i think your DS would get a great deal out of it. My DD who's not sporty at all feels very left out by all her netballing friends.

Needmoresleep Mon 10-Nov-14 11:20:54

Does the school offer minority/individual sports such as fencing, swimming, fives, climbing etc. It can be that if you focus on one of these, you can avoid more hearty team sports.

allmycats Mon 10-Nov-14 11:35:36

I will go against most on here and say that you should not try to help him avoid doing things he 'does not really like' - you are teaching him that it is
OK for him to just do what he likes to do. i.e. he will play on a nice warm sunny day but not a cold wet windy one. Why try for a 'sporty' school if you are already looking for ways to avoid the sports - although your DS will join in with the ones that suit him.

baffledmum Mon 10-Nov-14 12:35:39

I have a sporty son, who like all sports apart from rugby. He runs more slowly in rugby and so avoids being picked, thus keeping his Saturdays free for tennis. There is no optional sport at his school, if you are picked, you go so he has had to learn the lifeskill of ducking and diving early. He is 8. Good luck.

Hakluyt Mon 10-Nov-14 13:01:10

Oh, tell him not to be so pathetic and get on with it. Or send him to a different school.

Taz1212 Mon 10-Nov-14 13:57:17

Does it have to be rugby? DS didn't enjoy rugby but he rows and he swims so he gets his sports fix from those activities without the sodden cold playing fields. wink

stealthsquiggle Mon 10-Nov-14 15:36:01

I think by Y7 he's old enough to find ways around it himself (like baffledmum's DS), or to just accept it as a part of school life. Either way it shouldn't be a big factor in choosing or not choosing an otherwise good school, IMHO.

eatyourveg Tue 11-Nov-14 19:23:18

ds3 was in the football, rugby, cricket and basketball teams at his independent and never once had a Saturday morning fixture or training - all matches were Wednesday afternoons and after school on other days. Maybe Saturdays is a boarding school thing?

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