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AIBU?

What's the obsession with private school parents & sports? Seems to be a deal breaker in choosing a school..

134 replies

Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 12:40

We know many parents with girls & boys ar private schools. They are all obsessed with their kids sport & the school sports facilities, teams etc.. Cross Country, athletics, rugby, football, netball, hockey even yoga gets touted... These schools also provide lots of homework... State school parents aren't nearly as bothered by school sport or aibu..

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crowdedout · 06/09/2022 13:11

Also, totally anecdotally of course but once you start work all people talk about in a business development setting is sport. Either organised sport or their own triathalon / iron man training or latest off piste ski adventures.

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Ylvamoon · 06/09/2022 13:23

I think learnig sport is just as important as being able to read, write and do maths.

It teaches you to push yourself to limits and beyond. It's competitive so you learn to loose and win you have to deal with your own emotions, adhering to rules in an pressured environment, ... and that's just off the top of my head.
Team sports have even more to offer.

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FirstAidKitNowPlease · 06/09/2022 13:29

"No it's not.. Met up with some friends last weekend as they're dc back to school next week & mine returned yesterday"

Thanks for letting clarifying, indirectly that your children attend state schools and your friends children do not 👍

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eskappe · 06/09/2022 13:29

Young people need to be active and try a variety of team sports until they find one they can carry on with, even if they're not good at ball skills or whatever.

We don't have an epidemic of excess sporting involvement, quite the opposite. And it's hard to do, outside school, because someone has to do the planning and taxi-ing.

Before the pandemic, my child's primary school had lots of after-school sport clubs as part of wraparound care. The pandemic drove a lot of providers out. There are still a few classes, but she used to do something active every day and now there isn't a great choice, particularly for girls.

She's not thrilled that I've signed her up for football skills instead of drama etc - worried she will be the only girl and left on the sidelines. But she has so much of the creative activities and not enough running around, and it's the best that's on offer. She needs a good baseline of cardio fitness for the long term.

It's not a private school thing, just that the wealthy can afford to pay for this to be solved for them.

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FoofOfTheWalkingDead · 06/09/2022 13:35

Having grown up outside the UK and with no experience of the UK private school system I agree with OP and think it is odd. My husband and most of his mates went to private school and were all sporty. We applied to S1 at a private school for our son because of DH's history. DS isn't unathletic, he likes swimming and water sports, but doesn't like or play any organised/team sports. On a tour of the school, despite both of us saying this a few times to the teacher who showed us around, this man insisted we walk through their state-of-the-art, multi-million pound sports building while he went on about all the great things that former pupils went on to achieve in sport. It was like he couldn't conceive of a private school pupil or his parent NOT being interested in sport (Dad didn't come on the tour).

I don't want to take away from the many opportunities that a private education can offer but from an outsider's view, the huge emphasis on sport seems odd. Being sporty or choosing a school based on it isn't necessarily a bad thing if you love it. Sport is a positive thing for kids to be involved with and if my son was into it I'd completely support him. The whole experience just felt like he was being judged on whether he was 'in the club' and he left feeling very definitely like he was not.

N.B. he unsurprisingly opted to go to the very good local high school in the end and is very happy there. Also, this was just our experience at one private school so others will be different. However, knowing a few people who went through private education or send there kids to private, it does seem to be the pervasive culture.

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Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 13:36

I'm sorry if I offended anyone, I just felt like DH & I couldn't contribute to the convo at all.. Our dc do activities but not as part of the school day. The only thing the dc's school offer after school is football which they enjoy..
Listening to them talk about all the amazing extracurriculars (including Latin!) I wondered why are they just so invested in the sport? Oh & whether the Feb midterm ski trip will be France or Italy... All their dc can ski except for the unsporty girl who missed out due to covid..

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NellBeau · 06/09/2022 13:38

I think more parents should push their children to do sports. I was never pushed to do sports as a non-sporty child. As an adult I’m unfit, obese, and suffer with joint pain which is undoubtedly worse through being unconditioned.

I’ve really tried hard the past few years to increase my fitness but I really struggle to push myself. I do think had I been forced to do sports as a child it would’ve benefited me into adulthood.

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FusionChefGeoff · 06/09/2022 13:40

Our son is OBSESSED with sport. This can't be pure coincidence as DH is ex rugby player, still plays cricket and I'm a mid distance runner and we're therefore a very sporty family.

as a result sport will be a huge factor in deciding which school he goes to.

By default due to more money available, private schools fund and play considerably more sport than most state schools.

So we may stretch to private if the state school he gets is woeful when looking at sports.

We won't be the only ones who think like this so that would explain why there's an overall higher proportion of 'sporty' families when looking at schools that are more sporty.

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justaladyLOL · 06/09/2022 13:42

It was a big factor in sending our kids to private
My experience is that private school kids are more active and spend far less time wasting it on social media rubbish and mobile phones
They seem to want to be out with friends learning to socialise and interact and being active which I think is farnbetter for them in every way both as kids and as adults

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5foot5 · 06/09/2022 13:42

TBH if I was going to choose an independent school over a state school then music provision would be more likely to be a deciding factor than sport. Most state schools will have at least some sport on the curriculum but the music is often woeful these days.

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purpleboy · 06/09/2022 13:42

Sports is so important for us, it provides so much for DC on top of the obvious physical health benefits. It wasn't a factor in choosing our DCs actual school as all the private schools offered similar sporting provision, but was a factor in choosing private over state.

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justaladyLOL · 06/09/2022 13:43

Sport also teaches kids that life is hideously competitive which is a good lesson to go into the workplace with

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Technosaurus · 06/09/2022 13:46

I went to a private school. It wasn't necessarily whether the children were sporty or my parents wanted me to be an Olympian, it was the fact that if they happened to be there were loads of opportunities to develop it, without it impacting on our parents or our educations.

Good at swimming? Excellent, we had our own pool and pre-school swimming club for those interested. Hockey? There's a floodlit pitch, training is after school every Tuesday. Cricket? Yes, we happened to have our own pitch and nets. This is before you get to the really niche stuff - Fencing club after school on Monday anyone? Even for non-sporty types, there was a blizzard of available options. PS Latin wasn't 'extra-curricular', it was mandatory until 14!

My DS goes to a state school and there's none of these options, if he shows an interest we have to find a club for evening/weekend training. Whereas if he was at private, it would all be taken care of between 8 and 5, leaving evenings/weekends to be spent as proper family time. If he happened to demonstrate elite-level ability, that's different, but for 'average' kids there are just more opportunities at private schools. There's a myriad of reasons why state schools don't/can't offer such things, which is a real tragedy for the UK.

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Thepeopleversuswork · 06/09/2022 13:47

I'm quite apprehensive about this tbh.

My DD has just started at a private school.

I'm worried that sport will be an all-encompassing obsession which I would find quite tiresome and intimidating. I'm by no means anti sport: I run and swim a lot and I really understand the benefits of team sports for children. But I find the idea of a culture which values sporting prowess over everything else a bit threatening. I find people who judge others on the basis of their sporting prowess judgemental and often quite limited.

Obviously I chose a school which I didn't think had a mania for sports but one of the things which put me off a lot of private schools was the idea of my daughter being forced to rub shoulders with a lot of kids whose parents bully them to be in the first team for everything and the whole "sport is all" culture which breeds rugger buggers and football obsessives. I find people like this a bit scary.

Oh well... the die is cast.

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GroggyLegs · 06/09/2022 13:49

I'd imagine families who can afford private education are also the families who can also afford the extra curricular activities (and the bikes, the boots, the hockey sticks, the cricket bats as well as the time & transport to shuffle it all around) that create a sporty kid?

So then it becomes even more important when searching for a school.

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Mummyoflittledragon · 06/09/2022 13:52

My dd is pretty sporty. She is also at selective private secondary. She is not going to the most renowned private school in the area for sport as she didn’t want to go to a single sex school. One of her classmates changed to the corresponding boy’s school to follow his sport. Dd enjoys sport at school but isn’t obsessed and also has sporting hobbies outside of school. I am not pushing her to do sport but it is very beneficial for her and she wants to be always on the go. She’s not so interested in going to the park anymore and rather be doing activities than hanging around town and so forth.

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Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 13:52

It was just an interesting observation, DH was with me & we both thought the same, when we meet up with friends with kids in state the chats are completely different.. Actually school is rarely discussed!

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365sleepstogo · 06/09/2022 13:53

Sport is so important and is often the case that if it doesn’t become habit at a very young age then it becomes difficult to instill once older.
DD has done a lot of sport in a her pre prep/prep - she is not necessarily that good (c team level) but she loves it. Once she moved to secondary, she wanted to try out for many different sports teams knowing she wouldn’t be in the a-team but would get to train and play matches in lower echelons.

I didn’t have any sports opportunities at primary school. Once at secondary, going through puberty etc, it wasn’t something I was used to doing or felt I had the ability to do and so I didn’t enjoy.

I would love it if when DD is an adult she felt comfortable to join a community netball team, local tennis club etc and just enjoy herself. And stay fit and healthy.
She may, of course, decide never to do that but that’s her choice.

Same goes for music.

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CaptainBarbosa · 06/09/2022 13:56

Sport is important. Sport teaches valuable lessons such as team work, physical health, some psychology such as competition, achievement and loss, commitment, perseverance and determination. Sport also keeps many a kid out of trouble, it's a place to put energy into something positive and not negative.

DS is not private he's state, and I'm a low income, lone parent. We are in Wales where rugby is everywhere, clubs are heavily subsidised by the WRU, community grants, help with uniform, tog exchanges are widely done.

DS goes to rugby, I purposely wanted him to do a sport so he can learn life skills, have fun, excercise and be a member of a team.

Those parents for the private school are just looking for something similar that's all.

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365sleepstogo · 06/09/2022 14:00

Technosaurus · 06/09/2022 13:46

I went to a private school. It wasn't necessarily whether the children were sporty or my parents wanted me to be an Olympian, it was the fact that if they happened to be there were loads of opportunities to develop it, without it impacting on our parents or our educations.

Good at swimming? Excellent, we had our own pool and pre-school swimming club for those interested. Hockey? There's a floodlit pitch, training is after school every Tuesday. Cricket? Yes, we happened to have our own pitch and nets. This is before you get to the really niche stuff - Fencing club after school on Monday anyone? Even for non-sporty types, there was a blizzard of available options. PS Latin wasn't 'extra-curricular', it was mandatory until 14!

My DS goes to a state school and there's none of these options, if he shows an interest we have to find a club for evening/weekend training. Whereas if he was at private, it would all be taken care of between 8 and 5, leaving evenings/weekends to be spent as proper family time. If he happened to demonstrate elite-level ability, that's different, but for 'average' kids there are just more opportunities at private schools. There's a myriad of reasons why state schools don't/can't offer such things, which is a real tragedy for the UK.

Yes, lots of sports clubs for all skills sets- trampolining, karate, basketball, table tennis, bouldering, rock climbing, yoga, gymnastics, dance.

Also very important for a school to have multiple teams e.g. A-D so there are match opportunities for all and the enjoyment of sport continues as you play with/against those of a similar level without feeling intimidated or rubbish.

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GroggyLegs · 06/09/2022 14:00

Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 13:52

It was just an interesting observation, DH was with me & we both thought the same, when we meet up with friends with kids in state the chats are completely different.. Actually school is rarely discussed!

DH went to private & I know it became a huge part of the ILs identity as well as my DHs. School events were where they socialised etc.

I think when it's as all encompassing as it sounds DH school was (Saturdays and every other Sunday) it became a lifestyle for all of them, not just 'school'.

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Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 14:02

I found it very interesting.. If my dc were at a private I'd be encouraging the baking club, yoga, drama & possibly athletics.. It was just with all the possibilities sports were the be all & end all.. This is just after school btw, sport seems to be heavily incorporated into the actual school day also...

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TaraRhu · 06/09/2022 14:03

These are the things that give you life skills and entry into social circles etc that you unfortunately need in this country to get ahead.

We live in a classist society where your ability to play sport, understand culture and talk in a certain way still dictates how far you will go. If you don't do your homework, you will not pass your exams, you won't get into uni and won't have the key to the door.

It's pretty obvious.. why wouldn't you want your kids to have the chance to try all those things? The state system is terrible by the time I pay for my son to learn football, tennis , swimming I might as well send him to a private school.

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Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 14:07

Actually chatted to my mum about the meet up this morning.. Her reply was "What do you expect, sure didn't the Middleton sisters play every sport under the sun according to the press & it did them no harm" 🤣

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Mumspair1 · 06/09/2022 14:10

Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 14:02

I found it very interesting.. If my dc were at a private I'd be encouraging the baking club, yoga, drama & possibly athletics.. It was just with all the possibilities sports were the be all & end all.. This is just after school btw, sport seems to be heavily incorporated into the actual school day also...

The private schools do offer this though. My ds school offers a whole range of other activities not just sports. It really covers a whole range of extra curricular in addition to academics.

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