Plymouth College: Recipe for Olympic success?
The eyes of the world are fixed on an independent Plymouth school, after two of its pupils soared to Olympic medal success.
Plymouth College student and diving star Tom Daley took bronze in the 10m men's platform event, while 15-year-old Lithuanian swimmer Ruta Meilutyte secured gold in the women's 100m breaststroke.
Plymouth College said it has since seen an increase in interest from both perspective pupils and the media, with its Twitter followers rising to more than 1,200.
Daley and Meilutyte are the latest in a long line of stars born at the School, which includes novelist and playwright Eden Philpotts, MP and editor of the political magazine Spectator Wilson Harris, yachtsman Pete Goss, singer Michael Ball and Olympic swimming bronze medallist Cassie Patten.
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The School, which became fully co-ed in 1995, has more than 60 elite athletes from 27 countries.
And it has further cause for celebration today, as a quarter of its pupils gained at least seven A* or A grades at GCSE.
The School A*/A pass rate is up five percentage points to 41 per cent, while the A* to C pass rate of 87 per cent continues to be well above the national average.
Founded in 1877, the College schools pupils from the age of three to 18, with boarding facilities at the Senior School from age 11.
The College, which costs £4,050 a term to attend in Years 7 and 8, and £4,450 in Sixth Form, boasts a large sports hall, a 25-metre indoor swimming pool, two squash courts, a weights room and a cardio-vascular suite.
Its wooden-floor gymnasium contains a climbing wall, and the College has its own indoor rifle range.
The grounds are also home to a sports field, astro pitch, hard court and canopy-covered quad. The School also has its own outdoor pursuits centre on Dartmoor.
One of the best cricket schools in the South West, the College also boasts a canoe club and a number of squash and rugby teams.
It also runs academies in modern pentathlon, fencing and basketball.
The School’s swimming profile – bolstered by Daley and Meilutyte – consists of a 25-metre five-lane indoor pool and an elite swimming programme in partnership with Plymouth Leander.
Daley enrolled at the School at the age of 15, after receiving a scholarship. The youngster said his life was being made a misery at nearby Eggbuckland Community College, where he said he suffered childish name-calling.
Meilutyte moved to Britain three years ago.
Last month a Plymouth College spokesperson told the Guardian that just over a decade ago the school did not have a particular reputation for producing elite athletes.
The turning point came in 2000, when a decision was taken to build a 25m pool at the school. The local swimming club was invited to use the facility as its base, and within a couple of years the school had set up an elite swimming programme.
The spokesperson told the Guardian the School’s young swimmers wake at 5am and are in the pool by half past, before going to school between 8.50am and 3.30pm.
They then train at the gym or in the pool until 6pm, before having an evening meal and then doing homework between 7pm and 9pm.