Independent schools up and down the country are leading the way in promoting sport, providing more than 5 ½ hours of sporting activity per week according to a survey carried out by the Youth Sport Trust.

On average, pupils attending private school will pay £286,000 through their education, but does the amount of money students pay lead to greater sporting success?

Carl Hester attended Elizabeth Independent College in Guernsey and competed in equestrian at both London 2012 and Rio 2016.

Lisa Ridley, Assistant Subject Leader of Physical Education at Hetton School in Sunderland said: “State schools need to learn from independent schools in providing more sporting opportunities and pushing sporting success.

“Professional coaches delivering one on one sessions to improve the quality of sports training would benefit students in state school but budgets are tighter than ever and sport is not always a priority, meaning all students don’t have the same opportunities.

“As a school, we are pro-actively developing sporting academies to try and bridge the gap between opportunities that are available within the independent sector, with a view to make state school sport a more attractive provision.”

Education watchdog OFSTED found that privately educated students are more likely to succeed in sport, with 4 in 10 of the British Athletes who won medals at London 2012 attending private schools.

Most recently the England national rugby squad included 54% of players who had attended private school, former captain Chris Robshaw being one, while the England cricket captain Joe Root attended Worskop Independent College.

Xavier Owen in cricket action.

Xavier Owen attended Berkhamsted Boarding School in Buckinghamshire and now studies Arabic with modern languages at Durham University: “Being educated at private school was a huge advantage for me.

“The opportunities for sport are very good, especially rugby, cricket and hockey as the facilities are of a high standard.

“We had two sessions of games per week which was compulsory and we had various matches on a Saturday competing against other private schools.”

Football, judo and badminton had 0% of privately educated athletes competing at London 2012 compared to Equestrian which had 72%, rowing 54% and fencing 50%.

Despite dominating the medal tallies at the 2012 Olympics, Rio 2016 did prove successful for Britain with Jessica Ennis-Hill, Max Whitlock and Nicola Adams all claiming gold medals and having attended state school.

Emily Large is a professional swimmer from Newcastle, who currently attends King Priory state school in Tynemouth. Having been selected for the Commonwealth Games in Australia this month, she said: “Attending Kings Priory has been great, they have allowed me to have time out of school by competing in swimming competitions, while still focusing on my studies.

Emily Large

“In year 7 we had half an hour of swimming per week for two terms which was good.

“I really think state schools should offer a range of sports because pupils may find their niche which otherwise they might not have pursued.

“I don’t think it matters whether you attend state or private school as to how you can succeed in sport.

“It depends on the individual and what opportunities they are given and how far they then want to succeed.”

Overall, sport in the United Kingdom is still popular, with 60% of over 16-year-olds participating in sport per week, but there is still a clear divide in the opportunities between state and independent schools, something that may need to change if we are to find the next generation of successful British athletes.

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