Head’s pride at sporting scholars from Fiji

WHAT STARTED as a light hearted conversation in the pub over how a Yorkshire school could improve its rugby team has ended up being a life changing opportunity for students growing up almost ten thousand miles away.

Filimoni Savou, Terrington Hall's first Fijian scholar.

After seeing his team narrowly miss out on success in a rugby seven’s tournament Terrington Hall Preparatory School’s head teacher Jon Glen remarked that they could have won the event if they had got a “Fijian flyer” in their ranks.

A throwaway remark to a friend, who had contacts in Fiji, led to the start of a sports scholarship which has seen the North Yorkshire school develop strong ties with the island in the South Pacific.

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Now as Mr Glen retires after 17 years in post he describes the scholarship as one of the things he is most proud of during his time at Terrington Hall.

He joined the school in 1997 and during his time at Terrington he has helped to establish it as a thriving independent day and boarding school at a time when many prep schools across the North of England have been forced to close or merger.

However it is the Fijian scholarship which he started in 2010 which he regards as one of his most significant contribution’s to the school. At the school’s recent Christmas concert the four Fijian Old Terringtonian scholars who have since left the school returned. They were joined by the three current Fijians scholars on stage to deliver a speech to Mr Glen and to sing the Fijian farewell song, the Isa Lei.

Mr Glen said: “I don’t mind saying that there were tears in my eyes.”

He told The Yorkshire Post that the scholarship had helped to both change the lives of pupils from Fiji who were selected and also helped to change the identity of Terrington Hall giving it a more international feel.

The sports scholarship

The first pupil to come to the school was Filimoni Savou who was handpicked at the age of 12 following a request from the London Fiji High Commissioner Pio Bosco Tikoisuva to the Fiji Rugby Union (FRU) to nominate a candidate. Contact was made through local author and Terrington parent Charlie Charters, a former rugby union official and sports marketing executive who had worked with Mr Tikoisuva at the FRU. Filimoni went on to study at Sheplake College in Henley where he was signed by the Saracens Academy. He has already been selected for the England under 17 team.

Mr Glen said scholars were chosen on the basis of both their sporting ability and on being judged to deserve the chance it offers them. Mr Glen joined Terrington Hall in 1997 from St Petroc’s School in Bude after deciding to move up North to be closer to his father who had been diagnosed with cancer. On arrival the school was predominantly teaching boarders. Mr Glen is a passionate advocate for boarding having done it himself as a teenage pupil at St Peter’s School in York.

However he said it was decided that the school needed to establish itself more as a day school . He also oversaw the expansion of the school’s pre-prep facilities to ensure it had four separate age groups from nursery up to year two. Now it has more than 150 day pupils mainly drawn from a 25 mile radius around the school

He said that Terrington Hall prided itself on helping pupils to find their own talents and on helping them to chose the school which was right for them. He told The Yorkshire Post that successful preparatory schools in the future would be those which were able to respond to parents demands.

“People should not think they have cracked their market. Parents needs change and schools should not be afraid of being innovative to respond to this.”