“I have to do something active otherwise I become very annoying for other people. That was what I loved at boarding school; the balance of sport and work. The school got it so right”
Fred Pope, 21, spent the final two years (Sixth Form) at boarding school in England. Although his parents are English, the family have lived in France for 20 years. Fred is starting his fourth and final year at Aberyswyth University where he studies French and Geography. His over-riding passion whilst at boarding school was sport.
Fred Pope: It depends on the child, obviously, but for me it was ideal to go at Sixth Form because it was a new challenge. I had always wanted to go and I was very pleased that I did.
SB: Did you mind being away from home?
FP: I loved my time in my boarding house. We were one big family, really. I couldn’t have asked for a better housemaster; he was absolutely brilliant and helped me alot. I was in a house with 40 other boys and those times will stay with me forever. My relationship with my parents got much better as well. It had never been bad, but it is nice to be given a bit more freedom when you are 15 or 16. If you want to go to university afterwards it is a great stepping stone between staying home with Mum and Dad.
SB: Can you tell me a bit about the atmosphere in the classroom?
FP: I think the largest class size I had was 15 pupils. I would have some classes with just 6 pupils. There are so many advantages of having small class sizes. It means you have a much better relationship with the teacher; you get to know them better and as you get to the more senior years of school, the teachers are more PALLY. If you get on with a teacher yourself, you are going to listen to them more. They are always willing to listen to you and they want to make it an enjoyable experience as well. I studied Geography, Biology, Physical Education and French; I loved all my classes.
SB: Was the opportunity to play lots of sport an important factor for you?
FP: The school I went to (Trent College) was a great sporting school. For me this was ideal because I love my sport. We had 5 rugby pitches, 2 cricket grounds, a swimming pool and lots of tennis courts. I played sport everyday and we had matches every week-end. I was captain of the 2nd rugby team and played a few games for the 1st team. I was in the athletics team in the summer.
SB: Do the pupils have to be extremely good at sport to take part?
FP: Even if you are not particularly good at the sport, you can still play. There will be a team for you to be in; there is something for every level.
SB: What can a pupil who is not so keen on sport get involved in?
FP: There are so many extra-curricular activities on offer, such as CCF and Duke of Edinburgh. These all boost your personal profile for prospective universities. So, it’s not just sport which is on offer; it’s the whole package. I can’t speak for every boarding school, but if you are paying quite a bit of money, you are going to get what you pay back.
SB: Did the amount of sport you played detract in any way from your school work?
FP: Not at all. We worked very hard. Each lesson lasted 45 minutes and you were expected to concentrate; any messing around and you were disciplined and you didn’t do it again. I have to do sport every day in order to concentrate in lessons.
SB: Apart from the opportunity to take exercise, what do you think taking part in a team sport brings to you?
FP: Playing in a team means that you develop a camaderie. It is a great feeling when you get together after all the training and play – and win – a match. It is just a fantastic feeling. It also gets you used to working with people; I know it’s sport, but it does reflect certain aspects of working life. It is definitely what I loved most about my time at boarding school. Playing for a good team: playing hard, working hard. It all culminates in the end with you getting your place at university.
SB: And what next? Will you still have time for sport in your final year at university?
FP: Yes; next year I am going to be captain of the rugby 7s. I also play football and beach rugby. Then I am looking for a job in renewable energy; I think it is the future.