Pupil's Success Story
Gaining Sport and Academic Scholarships
“My parents chose an independent secondary school for me. It has a relaxed family atmosphere and is not too pressurised. This also meant that competition for scholarships was more relaxed than at some schools.
The preparatory school I attended suggested I apply for both a Sports Scholarship and an Academic Scholarship. I was happy to do this as I had always found academic work reasonably easy and my greatest strengths and interests lay in the field of sport. If you attend a preparatory school and they don’t suggest you take a scholarship, I would still advise asking them about the possibility.
As the school I was applying to was not a huge sports school, I knew it would be easier to win a sports scholarship there than at other more sporty schools. It was one of the first years that sports scholarships were given to girls. I brought up the sports status of the school at my interview, saying that I felt I would be able to help make the school into a more successful and prestigious sports school.
The sports I took part in at school were hockey and netball. I also played hockey for the county and schools always like a county player. I did tennis and swimming outside school.
Producing a portfolio of all your interests and achievements was what everyone at my prep school did. You got a big folder and filled it with everything you had done, including all the sports you played, involvement at county level, leadership roles and additional extracurricular activities (for me that was climbing). I also dragged out all my past certificates and medals etc.
If you are applying for a sports scholarship at 13+ (going into year 9), then being a county player is often what schools are looking for, though it will depend on the school.
On the day of the sports scholarship assessment, we first went to the hockey pitch to do some exercises and then played a match. Then we had a coaching session for tennis which was just like a normal coaching session. It was relaxed and fun. And then we did some netball. That was all in the morning. I enjoyed meeting all the other people there for the sports scholarship assessment.
Then we had interviews in the afternoon. In the interview, you need to show that you are up to date with what is happening with sports people, because you need to show that you have a deep interest in sport. You will also need to be up to date with current affairs.
In my opinion parents need to keep to the fine line between ensuring their child knows the assessment is important and avoiding their child being stressed out, so that their child tries their best but is not hampered by stress. It is about getting that balance right.
I received the result in about two weeks and was delighted to hear that I had been awarded a sports scholarship.
In case anyone is worried about being picked on as a scholar, my experience of being a scholar was that it was a cool thing to be – you were one of the cool kids, it was a positive thing. You were not discriminated against.
There were certain obligations of being a sports scholar. I stopped doing netball in the upper sixth and this was rather frowned upon. But I did do athletics instead. You were expected to be in the teams but I loved that anyway so it was no burden. As sports scholars we were pushed hard but in a good way, we were always pushed to be in the older teams and it was a good experience really.
My top tips for a sports scholarship would be...
– For your portfolio put everything you can think of in there, even if it does not seem that important. I think the bigger your portfolio the better. Add plenty of photos too.
– Even if you don’t feel confident, just pretend that you are, especially in the interview. Look the interviewer in the eye and exude confidence, be impressive and don’t look nervous, even if you feel nervous. Smile at the interviewers. They will try to put you at your ease, just be yourself.
In my academic work, I was a lot better at some subjects that others. I was very good at English but not so good at Maths. At the school I was applying to, it was a relaxed school for all-rounders, so they did not worry if you were better at some subjects than others, so long as you did well overall and did pretty well in your good subjects to make up for doing less well in your worst subjects.
I enjoyed academic work and my prep school suggested I do the academic scholarship. In my school you were put into the scholarship class in year 7 and it was quite pressurised. There was noticeably more work for us than for the other pupils but it was still manageable. It was great that we did our exams in May, so we were finished before the Common Entrance group. We were able to do things like life skills, such as how to change a tyre, cook, sew and there was a entrepreneur competition where we had to invent something (it was a bit like Dragon’s Den).
The preparation for the scholarship exam was quite a lot of work. It was said to be around GCSE standard. I don’t know if this is true but it did mean that I found year 9 quite chilled as the work was easy.
The scholarship exams were mixed, I really enjoyed the English but some papers were harder.
My advice for the academic scholarship is to prepare well for the work and the interview.”