Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Getting the score (or why it pays to play sport at prep school)

There are many unwritten rules at school and not just for the children. I have just come back from the secretary’s office fuming at the injustice of it all. Thinking myself well organised and ahead of the game for once, I popped in to return the Holiday Sports Club form.

“I’m sorry your too late – there’s no more room.”

“What do you mean too late? The form said get your reply back by Monday -it’s Thursday afternoon and you only sent them out yesterday!”

I am given a pitying look and before I can say anything more in my defence she answers the telephone and I realise I am being summarily dismissed.

I flounce out of the office and although I would dearly love to slam the door I am prevented by the mechanism at the top - mentally I berate Health & Safety.

Normally I would not be worried by this setback. So what if my son can’t play cricket and football during the holidays but it matters - trust me

The car park at picking up time at the end of term had been alive with rumours about the latest 11-year old sporting prodigy at the school. He was spotted at a Cricket match by one of the leading private schools’ sports masters, who was acting as umpire, and there and then the boy was offered a bursary. As the child was already accepted at another school the father approached the aforesaid school to say sorry that the child would not be accepting the place as he had been offered a golden opportunity elsewhere. Short story long the school he was meant to go to offered the boy a Sports Scholarship on the spot without even seeing him play only for the other to offer a full Scholarship. It was, as they say, too good an offer to pass up – what a position to be in especially in the light of the Recession.

How I had laughed at the increasing number of mothers dolled to the nines who had come to watch their little darlings at After School Sports Club. I thought it was because everyone had heard that the new sports master Mr French was rather dishy and more excitingly, recently divorced. Now I realise that it was for far more sinister motives -to secure little Johnny a place on the Holiday Club list.

Those lucky enough to get into the Holiday Club will get the notice of Mr French, which will stand them in good stead for the rest of the year, and those with sporting prowess no doubt will be fast tracked. For sport at school is not just about keeping fit and working as a team it is about the kudos the top teams bring to the school and about the rewards that those individuals can earn – those unwritten rules of life.

The more I learn about the system the more I realise that it is a far cry from the civilised and polite environment I had always thought I was paying for. Getting ahead here is not about money, it’s about being cut throat, determined, even underhand. It was quite obvious that the word had got out and there had been a run on places even before the rest of us were officially told.

Luckily I have been given an even better tip off. I have found out that if I want my son to get the best sports teachers in the school he will have to secure a place in the Under Nines’ A or B teams by the time he’s eight otherwise he’ll be taught by the Gap year student and have even less of a chance to succeed.

So I have grabbed the yellow pages and frantically called up all the Cricket, Rugby and Football clubs in the area expecting them to laugh at my pretension but lo! they even have Under Six training sessions and my boy is signed up for the next three years. If you can’t join ‘em - beat ‘em…

13 comments:

Milla said...

blimey, Tattie, the pressure of private school! It is quite scary, though, how much hinges on mummy's speed with the forms. You'll know for next year, start hovering now. Even at state school, I fill the form in while still at school (this is merely for a haphazard hour after school, you understand, nothing so grand as in the hols) to secure a place for my angel. Bah hambug to door closing things. Don't worry, though, he IS only five!! It really is very tiny. (and I'm sure he's fab at footie and cricket, Mr F will notice)

Exmoorjane said...

Heck indeed. Wild gaping spaces in the courses down here, Tattie - everyone is cutting back. But a bursary would be a fine and wonderful thing....though I fear far too much competition here (every other boy seems to be a cricket god or a rugby king). I thought about golf but there are already several wunderkinden there too! Aaaghhhh.

elizabethm said...

Hope your sons are shining lights, if not at sport maybe at being great people!
But you are right, sport does matter. My son who was pretty all round sporty, while never achieving any great heights and certainly never winning any free places, made loads of friends that way, so that in itself is worth having. Three year old grandson is already doing Saturday morning football! Would sound like hothousing but he loves it to bits.

Preseli Mags said...

Gulp. He's only five? Quite scary, but I'm sure he'll be fine, especially now you have found Other Means. But how maddening to be told 'no more room' well before the closing date.

Tattie Weasle said...

Milla - It is a dog eat dog world out there, even though I know you're not particularly fond of canines...
PS Still cursing H&S
EJ - The Boy has shown great interest in ballet and as he'd be the only one I am now lookiing at modern dance and movement bursaries for 2016...
Elizabethm - Enthusiasm and a zest for it are really all I ask for . Just as well because although he had a whale of a time at Sports Day he was so busy waving and chatting to everyone that he was last in every race. No one seemed to mind and he was cheered home by all in the egg and spoon race!
Preseli Mags - I am determined to be so well up on it to bag him a space that I am infiltrating the school in the guise of a "Friend of" this means that I will virtually have a pass to the inner sanctum itself in the form of the headmasters wife who has teh unenviable task of organising the4 "Friends" in fundraising for the school. I may be a minion but I'll be there...
Berlimey I think I may be taking this a tad too seriously...

SandyCalico said...

I had no idea it was so cut-throat!
I hope he enjoys his sports after all this :-)

Mud in the City said...

Terrifying.

bt do you also et the benefit of eyeing up said sporty Gap Year Teacher Boy for good measure?

Tattie Weasle said...

SandyCalico - The Boy loves his sport thank heavens and enters into it enthusiastically if a little haphazardly!
Mud - OK you caught me out! There are compensations for not getting in the A team - this year's eye candy, sorry, Gap student is called Johannes and he's an extremely fit 20 year old six foot blond from South Africa. He loves children and is going to train as a doctor...
PS he's also heavily into world peace...

Ladybird World Mother said...

Hooray...a happy ending!!

Tattie Weasle said...

Ladybird World Mother - There's always a happy ending here! :)

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Good God, you read about these things and they are so unbelievable. Good luck!

Tattie Weasle said...

MOB - believe me I've heard even stranger stories but this is a family show you know...!!!

Preseli Mags said...

Back again! Just popped in to warn you that I have tagged you on my blog. xx

Go on you know you want to...

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