All parents want their children to play sport. Not just because it provides discipline, focus and fun. It’s also essential to maintaining a healthy body – and mind – in children and adolescents. Sport doesn’t only build character, it also builds muscle, and weight-bearing exercise in adolescence helps build bone strength and protects teenagers from osteoporosis later on. There is even scientific evidence now which suggests anything that speeds up the circulation in the body actually wakes up the brain and helps our mental function. Plus, active children are not only less likely to suffer from anxiety or depression, they are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes and heart and respiratory problems.

In 2011, the World Health Organisation declared childhood obesity to be one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. Yet, British children are some of the least active in the world. A 2018 Ofsted report on childhood obesity highlighted what schools can do to help tackle the problem, including ‘providing ample opportunity for children to take physical exercise during the school day, with lots of opportunities to ‘get out of breath’. Government advice goes further to say that children should do at least an hour of moderate intensity physical activity per day, yet most state school pupils only manage two hours a week. These stark figures contrast with those from the Independent School Council, which says that its independent school pupils spend on average five hours per week on sporting activities. It seems access to leisure facilities is one of the tremendous benefits of a private education.

The common assumption is that sporting provision is better at boarding schools outside of London because of the associated space. In fact, almost half of Greater London (47%) is considered ‘green’, and there are some London schools making the most of the city’s extensive green spaces. Eaton Square Mayfair is one such school. Owing to its extraordinary location – it’s the only independent secondary school in Mayfair – its pupils spend break times in Green Park directly across the road, and head to Hyde Park for ball games. Despite having two Royal Parks on its doorstep, Eaton Square pupils head to Acton for extended games sessions. The School has exclusive access to a wide range of sporting facilities there, five afternoons a week, including grass football and rugby pitches, an astroturfed hockey pitch, tennis courts and cricket nets.

For parents who want their children to be as active as they should be but don’t want to send them off to boarding school, it’s well worth considering what London day schools have to offer.