Close this search box.

【The Standard:Study in the UK】Links between UK public schools and English football

Boarding 101


The UEFA EURO 2016 football championship got under way on June 10. Whilst enjoying the opening matches, I thought of how UK independent schools are contributing to English football.


The terms “posh” and “middle class” are hardly synonymous with the English national team.


One only has to compare the backgrounds of all the players over the past 30 years. Indeed, distinctly working class.


Yet, working away quietly in the background, independent schools, with all their ambition and spectacular facilities, look set to supply England’s youth teams and senior team with an array of talented individuals in the coming years.


Let us then delve a little deeper into the history of English football to see how independent schools have very much influenced the development of the sport with three fascinating links:


1) Matches between Westminster and Charterhouse commenced in 1863, making it the most dated annual fixture worldwide. Public school boys’ teams, such as the Old Etonians and the Old Carthusians, former pupils of Charterhouse School, very much had a bearing on the creation of the modern day FA Cup with their enthusiastic participation in inter-school football matches.


2) The reluctance of public school teams to turn professional in the 1880s gave the upper hand to working-class northern teams. Fast-forward to the modern era. Football is now thriving in independent schools which have world- class grass and AstroTurf surfaces at their disposal. A milestone year was 2011 – with around 30 players from the Premier and Football League clubs being privately educated. One of the most famous is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who made his debut for Arsenal that year. He was educated at St John’s College in Southsea – a co-educational day and boarding school for ages two to 18.


3) Along with a host of other independent schools, Millfield School is not shy to award scholarships to promising footballers. Tyrone Mings, currently at Premier League club Bournemouth AFC, enrolled on a two-year scholarship at Millfield where he is quoted as saying he “loved every minute of it.”


Overall, with many independent schools eager to employ famous coaches and spend huge sums on upgrading football facilities, the only way is up for English football and the national team’s long-suffering fans.


Samuel Chan is the managing director of Britannia StudyLink. 

Original source: