Saracens Rugby Club today opened Saracens High School, a free mainstream secondary school in Barnet, North London.
It is thought to be a global first for a professional sports club to open a mainstream secondary school. Watford Grammar School for Boys will be the school’s formal academic partner.
The school opens its doors this year to 156 Year 7 pupils, with a further 156 Year 7 pupils to be taken on board next September before the school moves to a new purpose built facility in 2020 after which 180 pupils per year will arrive for a total school size of 1130 pupils.
The school houses have all been creatively named, not least Alphonsi and Hill, named after two of Saracens Rugby Club’s most prestigious players, Maggie Alphonsi and Richard Hill, two all time greats of the game who excelled in the back row for Saracens and England alike.
Saracens’ Chariman, Nigel Wray, said of the opening:
“What a challenge and a privilege to be able to open a school, to try and make a real difference to young people in a disadvantaged community. Saracens High School is, we believe, the first mainstream secondary school ever to be set up by a professional sports club.”
Our aim, as it is for our players, is to help every young person be the best they can possibly be. Saracens High School will provide young people with a journey of new experiences and opportunities, and with the care and support to help them along their pathway.”
“Helping the local community prosper is at the heart of everything we do, and we are extremely proud to be able to use our position to bring about positive change through the power of sport.”
The early signs are the attitude Saracens have brought to the development of their rugby club, which has seen them become such a desirable destination for any professional rugby play, will be brought to the school. The club have said that opening the school “continues their long-term commitment to improving society through the power of sport.” A statement says that “some of the most disadvantaged children in the capital will benefit from the progressive education programmes.”
Matt Stevens (no not that one), the school principle said:
“It is a great honour and privilege to lead Saracens High School to serve Colindale and its surrounding area. All who work and learn here are fortunate to have the unique opportunity of doing so as part of the wider Saracens family, and our shared values will develop an exceptional environment and culture for learning.”
“Our outstanding members of staff will deliver a comprehensive Character Education programme, combined with academic success to enable our pupils to challenge the best in the country for jobs and university places. We also aim to become a local hub for the neighbourhood, using our facilities and expertise to the benefit of the whole community.”
Of course being linked to Saracens, there are surely going to be rugby elements, not least the names of the school houses. Perhaps one day down the line we may see some Saracens High School graduates playing for the club.
In the meantime the club has been posting photos all day on their Twitter page of current players when they were at school, while Scotland international wing Sean Maitland was at the school’s first assembly to present house ties, saying:
“It’s great the club is committed to providing an education to kids in the local community. If the club ethos can benefit the children then that makes me proud as a Saracens player.”
Saracens have certainly been one of a kind over the last few years, and with this latest step they have shown that once again. Given how much players seem to enjoy being a part of the club, if that same spirit can translate to the school, you would think that there will be some very special memories made by this first group of Saracens High School pupils.