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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..

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

96 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 14:13

Yes but these three families were only waxing lyrically about sports & one family pushing their unsporty daughter into two after school sports when they're so much more on offer is a bit bizarre imo

OP posts:
Snipdog · 06/09/2022 14:19

if you want to play rugby and cricket to a high level in the UK you really need to go to a private school. Anyone know any state schools helping women play cricket and getting them into the hundred for example?

The state schools I know of either can't complete or if they do tremendously well then that often is not maintained. They can't keep winning championship year after year. They simply don't have the resources.

There is a reason private schools are often so good at what they do as they entrench privilege for a select few. Is it not 7 percent going to private school? The private school can employ a specific coach the state school may have a sports teacher teaching or coaching lots of different sports.

if you want say excellent coaching you generally will get that at a private school. You may also have a private school more willing to accommodate timetable changes. You may have indoor nets whereas the state school is likely to have a poorly maintained outdoor net and lack of all weather pitches. Need to go to an extra tennis camp in Spain and need some cornpressed lessons? Yes, then a private school will accommodate that.

I heard if a private school who allocated a teacher to travel with their sports scholarship student when they did an international event so the child would not have their schooling interrupted - how would that happen at a state school?

As a private school student you get more holidays and recovery time of playing sport - but you tend to play way more matches so guess what you get better at what you do. It is not rocket science.

Some intensive holiday coaching and music courses only happen when the private schools are on holiday.

Yes, as a state school student, you can say join a rugby or cricket club but what I have found is that the private school children who go to secondary drop out as their facilities are better and they have more resources such as coaches to matches etc whereas remaining state school kids are scrambling to fit stuff in.

Ofcourse private schools also crème off the top talent with scholarship courses.

The rugby and cricket authorities need to reach out to private schools and get them to run some programmes in state schools. They are supposed to be charities after all.

Then there are a whole host of sports and pe that you may not ever get exposed to at your state school - maybe like swimming ( I am not talking like water safety) but proper competitive or team swimming, hockey, lacrosse, rugby, cricket, fencing, horse riding, I could go on and on and on ...

Also the multiple teams are important too - some private schools have like 12 teams in a year whereas the state school may field only 1.

Technosaurus · 06/09/2022 14:23

Yeah but that's up them really. It may also simply be a pragmatic case of whichever sports are on offer after school on certain days so you need them to do 'something' until 5pm on a certain day.

Private schools rarely charge for after-school/extra-curricular stuff so if you can't do a 4pm pick up on say Weds & Thurs, and there's a certain club on those nights until 5pm that would make your life easy, you can "gently" lean them into it at no extra cost - whether it's trampolining, badminton, bee-keeping or drama, whatever it is might just make the parents' life easy.

It only dawned on me relatively recently as to why my Mum suggested I join Bridge club after school on Fridays, because she worked late that day! She was probably relieved when I got a bit older and played a musical instrument as the Jazz Band practice (where you had to be a certain level of ability) was also after school on Friday!

Snipdog · 06/09/2022 14:32

And regarding my post I am based in London.

Wales - thank god - actually are more inclusive with rugby. It gives me hope.

But for state schools it is unfair. That is the issue with private schools. I get you can pay for what you want. You can pay for the entrenched privilege while others don't get the opportunity.

But we are talking children here. Why should not sports and arts provision be something that is core to the lives of children whatever their parents background?

It is deeply unfair.

Technosaurus · 06/09/2022 14:33

(to clarify, my post was in response to OP's remark about the parents being pushy - I don't disagree with anything you've said @Snipdog !)

Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 14:52

One of the mums in the group suddenly became sporty once her dd stared reception in a well know private... She started tennis lessons so she could fit in with some of the mums, also hiking & sea swimming.. She honestly was the most unsporty person I know, now she's obsessed with the school's sport...

OP posts:
GreenGreenGrassBlue · 06/09/2022 14:54

As PPs it’s an all rounder thing. But also because life is more than education. Plus when you go to Uni you can get involved in sports there too. It’s a lifelong passion/hobby: adding to quality of life.

CaptainBarbosa · 06/09/2022 14:55

Snipdog · 06/09/2022 14:32

And regarding my post I am based in London.

Wales - thank god - actually are more inclusive with rugby. It gives me hope.

But for state schools it is unfair. That is the issue with private schools. I get you can pay for what you want. You can pay for the entrenched privilege while others don't get the opportunity.

But we are talking children here. Why should not sports and arts provision be something that is core to the lives of children whatever their parents background?

It is deeply unfair.

Yes rugby in Wales is very much seen as a sport for all. Women's rugby is also really picking up, with female grass roots teams and professional female players now getting full time contracts like the male national team. (Unsure on the pay scales though, probably more work needed as always.)

We do say "only posh boys play rugby in England" 😳 Meanwhile in Wales you could have the child of a consultant surgeon or Barrister on the same team as the local Police Officers kid or the single mum.

Sport should be accessible to all children regardless of background.

GreenGreenGrassBlue · 06/09/2022 14:56

Snipdog · 06/09/2022 14:32

And regarding my post I am based in London.

Wales - thank god - actually are more inclusive with rugby. It gives me hope.

But for state schools it is unfair. That is the issue with private schools. I get you can pay for what you want. You can pay for the entrenched privilege while others don't get the opportunity.

But we are talking children here. Why should not sports and arts provision be something that is core to the lives of children whatever their parents background?

It is deeply unfair.

That’s life though isn’t it. You could say why are there children living under railways in Mumbai? It’s what people can pay for and they’ll do the best for their kids. Privilege & the rich/poor gap will only become wider with our consecutive Tory governments. There are limited opportunities for poor kids to see examples of or be inspired by success.

it’s more than likely privilege will have to be bought. I can’t see the world changing.

Technosaurus · 06/09/2022 14:57

She may well not have had the opportunities herself and is amazed and excited that they are on offer for her kids and wants to make the most of them. She may have taken up hiking and sea-swimming to get the family fit. She merely be trying to get her money's worth out of the fees... Each to their own?!

Of course she may also be trying to 'fit in', but there's an undertone in your last message that you're annoyed at the parents' attempts at social climbing via sports and private schooling than you are about the 'obsession with sport at private schools'?

Snipdog · 06/09/2022 14:58

But there is no issue with someone suddenly becoming sporty is there?

A Classic example as we are all social creatures.

Why wouldn't someone try a new sport even if only to fit in and then find out then love it.

The issue in the UK is that so many CHILDREN are not given the opportunity that private school children get.

We squander their opportunities.

We dont broaden their horizons.

MsTSwift · 06/09/2022 15:00

God mine are doomed then! I was pleased that they each kept on one physical activity into their teens

Snipdog · 06/09/2022 15:00

Life won't change unless we demand it.

Snipdog · 06/09/2022 15:02

I am not saying any children are doomed but it is not an even playing field or anywhere near it.

To pretend otherwise is silly.

I just think surely schools could do better to serve all children and I include the private schools here - they are charities are they not? They get some pretty brilliant tax breaks?

ethelredonagoodday · 06/09/2022 15:07

My DH was a private boarder and played rugby (and cricket) there, alongside lots of other sports, some of which I'd never heard of until I met him! He'd wanted to send our children to private school, predominantly for the sporting opportunities, but we cannot afford it. He is very much of the view that sport is important, and that team sports in particular are essential. It's his view, ultimately, that the quality of sports opportunities at private schools is far higher.

DH played rugby at county level and had national trials, all of which were supported by the school. His parents had barely any involvement in his sports career, it was all organised through school! Once he went to uni he played semi professionally and got himself to matches every week, again, with minimal help from his parents (although they supported him financially).

Our high school does well with sports, but I think as others have said, it's the breadth and sheer number of teams available at private schools that help to provide that strong foundation.

DS is still at state primary and whilst the school does offer sports, its not a huge amount. DS does have a tendency to be a bit of a couch potato, so we make sure he attends lots of after school clubs.

Our DD's state high school does offer sport and some teams are very successful, but as other have said, the opportunities are fewer than those seemingly offered in the private schools nearby.

Our DD is very academic and likes sport, but not to the degree DH did. She plays sport outside of school, but also has music lessons and attends guides. And as a consequence, every night of the week, we are ferrying both children here, there and everywhere, to various clubs.

Interestingly, I was never interested in sport (still have limited interest now TBH) and was much more involved in the music and drama side of things. DH takes limited interest in that, yet I think that is equally important. Really I think the most important thing is that children have hobbies, and that through those hobbies they widen their circle of friends, and experiences.

All this enrichment should be provided by schools, but lots of state schools can barely provide materials for actual lessons any more. We are lucky that we can afford to pay for our children to participate in these activities, but I know that's not the case for many people.

Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 15:10

From listening to the families chatting at the weekend (the three families dc all attend different privates) it seems sport is heavily incorporated i the actual school day every day, a whole myriad of afterschool, half day school on sat however they have alot more homework & also schoolwork during holidays...
My dc have only been getting 1 hour P. E a week since returning back after covid, homework is very manageable however more time is spent on the academics in their school day🤷‍♀️

OP posts:
YingMei · 06/09/2022 15:11

I am looking at private school for DD in y7 because she is a county level swimmer and some of the private schools near us would be able to nurture this further. So yeah, my decision is probably going to be based on a sport as well as academics

ethelredonagoodday · 06/09/2022 15:14

Sorry, my post was a bit rambling!

user1471592953 · 06/09/2022 15:20

I’m interested in the sport offering of any school for my DC because:

  1. it will keep them fit and healthy - I came to sport late in life and really appreciate its health benefits;
  2. independent schools in particular offer opportunities to try lots of different sports, including niche ones;
  3. both DC are high energy and need to be well exercised to sleep well;
  4. these sports tend to be on offer at school, at the end of the school day, which means after school club time is used up exercising;
  5. dedication to a sport can be a diversion away from getting in with the wrong crowd.

DC’s state primary offers practically zero sport and it really doesn’t sit comfortably with me. We can’t take them to the sports available because they are run outside school, usually from about 4pm, and we work full time. We may look into asking someone to take them to things 2/3 times a week but it seems like it might be a difficult position to fill.
Snipdog · 06/09/2022 15:46

Sport should be incorporated into each school day. Sport is not just about winning it is about losing well too. It is about team work and working together. It is about life long enjoyment and skill level.

1 hour a week is ridiculous - I think even someone in prison gets 1 hour a day for exercise of some sort.

Agree totally with your post User1471etc

ewetoo sounds like your friends are just including you in a conversation and their thoughts even though you are not part of their group.

The rest is politics podcast had Rory Stewart explaining the fact that say Eton had all these wonderful writers was no accident, the facilities, always having a drama studio.

But once you start to think about the sheer inequality of private education it is mind blowing.

Ewetoo · 06/09/2022 15:47

@user1471592953 i hear ya, if I'm honest I was a bit jealous of the after school variety at the three families preps, especially the yoga as my ds would love it! My dc only do football after school as it's the only activity on offer, there's only 1 team though for matches & not a hope any of mine will make it but they try..

OP posts:
maranella · 06/09/2022 15:51

Your friends must just really value the positive things that sport brings to children's lives (and it does bring MANY positive things). We deliberately chose schools that had facilities that were in line with our DC's passions. If those passions were music or drama, debating or chess then we'd have focused on those things, but both our DC play one particular sport, so our focus was on that. You're right though in our case, we ruled out schools that didn't have the necessary facilities and focus on sport.


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edwinbear · 06/09/2022 16:09

I think @Snipdog makes a very interesting and valid point about sports teachers in state vs private. DC's (private) school has two ex professional rugby players coaching at their school. These teachers have an absolute passion for rugby which I think the children find infectious and inspiring - plus of course having access to that level of coaching means their teams typically play well, win matches and top players are put forward for county trials, which further encourages them. Likewise for water polo (a typically private school sport), they have an ex professional water polo player who lives and breathes water polo.

That's not to say there aren't ex pro players teaching in state schools, of course there are, but if you're an ex pro player and you have a choice where to teach, I'd presume you'd choose a school with it's own pool if you teach water polo for example, or a school with indoor cricket nets if you teach cricket.

kimchifox · 06/09/2022 16:29

I'd be very interested in the school's approach to sport and provision for it no matter where they went. DS1 & DD's school is excellent for the sports / activities that interest them & they have been passionate about since they were 4 years old. DS2 is not gifted sporting wise and is ND, but I am still looking for a senior school that will encourage participation and regularly puts out a D team! Why would I say that when he's got no chance of being in the A team? Because I believe sport teaches more than physical skills and fitness (which are a good thing anyway).

Most parents want a good education academically speaking, but know it's not the be all and end all. Additionally doing activities at school is often a damn sight easier than organising outside school dance / tennis / violin etc. Especially with more than 1DC.

Newgirls · 06/09/2022 16:44

I don’t understand - the state schools here have amazing sports facilities and teams and often beat the local private schools. Not surprising given they are often larger and have more kids to choose from too. My dd school often has boys going into professional football etc as well as plenty of triathletes, tennis players and skiers. The local primary does lacrosse too 🤷‍♀️

is it because state schools don’t make glossy brochures with pics of people doing sports? So maybe some don’t realise what state schools are doing?

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