The Blue Coat School Birmingham has been selected as one of the UK’s best schools for cricket for the first time in The Cricketer’s Schools Guide 2024.
2024’s successful roll call of schools – which features both state-funded and private establishments – was finalised after an exhaustive selection process that saw a huge number submit entries for inclusion in the guide.
As The Blue Coat School is a co-educational independent day school for children aged 3 – 11, therefore, we are featured in the top 50 prep/junior school section.
All entries were judged against an extensive set of criteria, which included a compelling commitment to cricket in the curriculum, facilities, fixture programmes and coaching.
Upon receiving the recognition in The Cricketer’s Schools Guide 2024, Headmaster, Mr Noel Neeson said:
‘We are extremely proud to be recognised as one of the best prep schools for cricket in the UK. This is the result of our vision to grow participation in the sport amongst the boys and girls at our school, and for them to realise their potential to win regional and national cricket competitions.
As a school, we have committed ourselves to this mission by developing outstanding indoor and outdoor cricket facilities and strong partnerships with Warwickshire County Cricket Club. With an exceptional team of Sports staff, which include two ECB Level 3 Cricket coaches, our cricket provision will continue to go from strength to strength.’
Cricket has been an integral part of the sport curriculum for boys since the days of boarding at The Blue Coat School Birmingham, however, cricket was only introduced into the girls’ curriculum in 2021. Since then, the programme has seen rapid growth and success in local, regional and national competitions.
In May 2023, our Under-11 Girls won the Independent Association of Prep Schools Hardball Championships. This particular team featured four players who were part of the Warwickshire Girls’ Under-11 County Cricket Squad.
Last week, it was also confirmed that another four girls have been selected for the 2024 Warwickshire County Cricket winter training programme, which begins in January.
We also encourage girls to continue playing cricket outside of school and many have joined prominent Birmingham & District League clubs such as Harborne Cricket Club, Halesowen Cricket Club, Knowle and Dorridge Cricket Club.
The Cricketer magazine editor Huw Turbervill said:
‘Our 2024 Schools Guide celebrates the best cricket programmes in state and independent schools across the country. The rise of women’s cricket in schools really has been a joy to behold. It is a pleasure to read the write-ups.’
There are now more than 360 pupils at BCS playing cricket regularly. That number includes every girl from Year 3 to Year 6. The School has 39 teams in total from Under-8s to Under-11s for both boys and girls playing over 200 cricket fixtures each year.
Significantly, for the 2024 season, a new cricket kit will be introduced for all pupils at BCS. Both the boys and girls will adorn the same kit to represent equality in sport. This will not be traditional cricket whites, but coloured playing kit, to support the wider movement away from female athletes of all ages wearing white which can cause unnecessary anxiety and self-consciousness.
As a diverse school, we are focused on growing participation in cricket for both boys and girls as well as across different ethnic groups. Until 2022, participation in cricket was experiencing significant decline nationally according to a Sport England survey published on statista.com, however, as a School, this focus on equitable and exciting cricket opportunities hopes to inspire the next generation of sportspeople to play cricket recreationally and professionally.
Our boys teams have also reaped success nationally. In Summer 2023, they were victorious in the Eight:8 A.J Murtagh competition at Malvern College as well as remaining unbeaten in the U11 IAPS Boys’ competition at Oundle School.
For the past two seasons, the U11 Boys have reached the regional and national stages of the ESCA U11 Boys’ Hardball Competition, and in total, eight boys currently represent county squads for Warwickshire CCC and Worcestershire CCC.
The 2024 Schools Guide is included alongside the December issue of The Cricketer (available on the newsstand now). The guide will also be made available digitally on thecricketer.com from Friday 1 December.