Our extensive and diverse facilities, along with our blend of specialist coaches and teacher-coaches enable us to provide a centralised programme of sport in training and competition, alongside education and other co-curricular activities. The opportunity to engage and sample multiple sports through training and competitive fixtures during the early development years, in one place, provides a special development experience for any child. It also helps reduce the demands on parents who form a critical part of the ‘support team’ around their child.
There is ample opportunity to do sport before lessons, at lunchtimes and after school to provide a very different pathway that allows dual or trial development through the classroom, sport and other co-curricular opportunities such as music, dance, drama and art. At some point in a child’s development the practicalities and demands mean that some focus and dedicated practice is required on less activities and less sports as they enter into sixth form and beyond.
We carefully design opportunities to allow every pupil to meet the Chief Medical Officers recommendations for activity of one hour of moderate activity every day, on average, to those already engaged in dedicated practice due to the nature of their sport, which may more than 20 hours per week. Throughout the year, pupils have an opportunity to engage in different ‘seasonal’ sports, e.g. rugby in term one, hockey in term two and athletics in term three; and experience activities and sports they would otherwise not had the chance to try.
Through our Heads of Sport, we have developed extensive local, national and international networks and connections through sport to ensure those pupils who show high potential at different stages of their development have the opportunity to engage in the systematic development pathways and processes now in place from many National Governing Bodies or professional clubs in the UK. We are able to work with such partners and ensure the development experience at Millfield is complimentary to these external experiences to provide the dual development pathways that help them succeed in sport. In many cases, immersion and complete dedication into one environment at a young age often leads to burnout or dropout through sport. We actively promote the opportunity to keep education and sport (or other) going for much longer without compromise to either by providing flexibility in sport and education. We provide non-traditional approaches to education provision beyond the classic school year, e.g. three-year A levels, to enable pupils to achieve their best in dual pathways without compromise to either. This provides opportunities beyond sport in later life; and in many cases, the opportunity to keep two pathways open is the reason why a pupil achieves international success in their sport. Being able to step away from your sport during the development years can be a real strength for some.