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  • The HSA

How to educate the next world-class Olympic athlete – Annabel, Year 10

Updated: Feb 22, 2019

Home schooling offers an alternative to 'mainstream' education. Each timetable is bespoke, tailored to the interests of each child. Many students are aspiring athletes – swimmers, tennis players, or football players – and benefit from a flexible timetable which balances education with an intense sport development programme. We have conducted a series of student interviews to give families insight into what a typical day might look like.

Meet Annabel, a Year 10 swimmer and fiction-novel enthusiast

Annabel started home schooling in Year 9 so that she could commit to a full-on swimming training schedule. She lives in North London with her parents and younger brother.

How would you describe yourself?

I love spending time and having fun with my friends and family in my spare time, so I’d say I’m outgoing. Motivated – my training schedule is really intense, and it can be tough sometimes. I have to get up early to train before school and then again in the evening. It’s really important that I keep motivated and pushing myself to be the best of my ability. And… I’m definitely competitive! I love the sense of achievement when I beat my PB.

It’s Thursday, what have you got on today?

Thursday’s are pretty action-packed for me. I have a swimming and cardio training session in the morning, so it’s an early start. I have Science in the afternoon, which is one of my favourite subjects. We’re always doing something different and it’s often a practical experiment. I didn’t know I’d still be able to do experiments in our home classroom, but it’s great. I find it much easier to learn that way. In the evening, I have a yoga class – both the flexibility and breathing techniques are really useful for my swimming.

What do you most enjoy about home schooling?

For me, the one-to-one lessons. I learn things so much quicker than in a classroom of 30 students. I can also ask questions and make sure I understand something properly before we move on. My teachers always make sure the lessons are fun and ask what I would like to learn about, to make sure my lessons are relevant. Another great thing is that my weekly timetable is based around my swimming competitions and training sessions. It’s ideal because I can study, as well as attending all the swimming meets that I couldn’t do before when I was at school. I get the best of both worlds!

What do you least enjoy about home schooling?

My teachers are always asking me questions and challenging my ideas. It’s definitely useful in the long run but some days, when I have two sessions of swimming training, I’m really tired during my lessons. That can be quite tough sometimes, and there is definitely no hiding when a lesson is one-to-one!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Ideally, I’d love to represent GB at the Olympics – that’s the dream – or at least competing at the National Championships. I know it will require a lot of dedication and training, but I’m prepared to put in the hard work. It’s a lot easier to fit in the hours these days, because my home schooling timetable is more flexible.

Finally, easy one…, what’s your favourite book and why?

That’s actually a really hard question for someone who loves books - it’s so difficult to just choose one! I really like The Hunger Games trilogy, because the plot is so exciting. It’s also inspiring to see a strong female lead character like Katniss Everdeen. In my last English lesson, we actually discovered lots of discussion points throughout the book, so I feel I’ve got to know the characters on a much deeper level.

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