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Female coxless 4 of Shiplake College competing at Henley Regatta12 March 2024

The UK has an abundance of schools famous for rowing, with teams competing in everything from inter-school competitions through to national ones including the world-famous Henley Regatta. Some even produce World Champion and Olympic medal-winning rowers. In no particular order, we run through nine of the best rowing schools. 

St Edward’s Oxford 

Teddies is fortunate to have exceptional coaching staff (Olympians, World Champions, University Boat Race winners, Henley Regatta winners etc), easily accessible facilities and an inclusive and encouraging approach to teaching rowing. In 2023, the boys 1st VIII won the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Henley. Alumni include World Championships medallists and a 2016 Rio Olympian, and there is a successful track record of pupils securing rowing scholarships at US universities, including Berkeley, Brown and Harvard.

Read The Good Schools Guide review of St Edward's Oxford

Radley College 

A tradition since 1849, rowing takes place on a stunning 6km stretch of the Thames, where the school regularly puts out seven J14 octuples, four J15 eights, two J16 eights and four senior eights. The rowing centre opened in 2015, with year-round training headed up by 20 coaches led by double Olympian, Sam Townsend. The past two seasons, Radley has been the winner of the Thames Team Trophy for the Head of the River Race.

Read The Good Schools Guide review of Radley College

Shrewsbury School 

‘The school has so far clocked up 14 Henley Royal Regatta wins and individual rowers have gone on to national and international success for TeamGB, but there’s plenty of competition and events for those who want to row at a less intense level,’ says our latest review. The boathouse, on the River Severn, is a shrine to the Royal Shrewsbury School Boat Club’s illustrious history (founded 1866) as well as a formidable powerhouse containing all the bells and whistles required by elite rowers. We were shown the RP3, which simulates a real boat, and the tank with static boats set up for sculling. 

Read The Good Schools Guide review of Shrewsbury School

Headington Rye Oxford 

Headington’s boat club was founded relatively recently, in 1991, and its inclusive ethos means rowing is open to all ages and skill levels. At the competitive end, they are the most consistently successful girls’ club and school over the last 20 years, winning numerous medals at the National School’s and Henley Women’s regattas. Each year, athletes from the school represent GB at U16 and U18. Their new boathouse is on an 8-acre site, among the largest in the country. Coaching team of nine (three of whom have coached for GB). Alumni include Olympic silver medalist Katie Greves and Paralympian Lily van den Broecke. 

Read The Good Schools Guide review of Headington Rye Oxford

St Paul’s School 

Another school with river frontage, where rowing is both high profile and successful. Old boys include World Champions Freddie Davidson and David Ambler, and Olympic gold medallist, Simon Dennis, along with eight recent U23 World Champions, and many regular participants in the University Boat Race and Ivy League crews. The boat club has had plenty of its own successes, including Boston’s Head of the Charles in 2023, and the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup at Henley Regatta seven times. Current pupils regularly represent GB in junior events. Regular trips for rowers training camps in Peterborough and Portugal. 

Read The Good Schools Guide review of St Paul's School

Mossbourne Community Academy 

‘We chose rowing as a specialism because it is one of the few sports young people can start in their teens and progress to top-level competition by the time they leave school,’ says the school in east London. It is streets ahead of other state schools when it comes to rowing, largely thanks to links to the London Youth Rowing and London Regatta Centre - originally a training centre for the Olympics and still a world-class training facility for the school’s rowers, the elite of which train up to 12 times a week. Rowing is also part of the PE timetable in younger years. The rowing academy qualified for Henley Royal Regatta and individual rowers have competed at the British Junior Trials, the Coupe de la Jeunesse and the World Rowing Championships. 

Read The Good Schools Guide review of Mossbourne Community Academy 

Shiplake College 

With its sweeping riverside location near Henley Royal Regatta, Shiplake is located in the epicentre of British rowing. Specialist training programmes run from the fabulous 2020-built boathouse, the Davies Centre. Masses of success at junior and senior levels in the European and world championships – in 2023 alone, 10 pupils represented GB, Wales or England in the U19 World Rowing Championships, the Coupe de la Jeunesse or the Home International Regatta. Highly qualified coaches are supported by aspiring Olympians training out of Leander Club. Alumni include Olympic gold medallists, Will Satch and Ben Hunt-Davis. 

Read The Good Schools Guide review of Shiplake College

Sir William Perkins's School

'It’s rowing, rowing and more rowing', says our latest review of this girls' school in Chertsey. All pupils get an introduction to rowing in Year 8 and thereafter it's a main sports option with those wishing to row competitively placed on the elite programme higher up the school. The Thames boat club, a short distance from the school, opened in 2016 and has seen a fair bit of talent gracing its crews. Recent triumphs have included medals at the National Schools Regatta and competing at Henley. SWPS's pupils regularly represent GB and England at junior levels and alumna Hattie Taylor competed at the Tokyo Olympics.

Read The Good Schools Guide review of Sir William Perkins's School

The King’s School, Worcester 

Rowing is a defining feature of this West Midlands school, with the close-knit boat club community firing the ambition of all comers and creating friends for life among pupils. The eye-catching design of the school’s boathouse stands out majestically over the River Severn, with access to a 12km loop of the river for training and competition. Even on the miserable, blustery day we visited, the views were striking, though wind and rain had forced rowers to train inside, albeit on hi-tech rowing machines. The school has produced four Olympians including Peter Beaumont and gold medallist Zac Purchase. Another former King’s pupil, Alex Wenyon, has recently coxed for ParalympicsGB Rowing. 

Read The Good Schools Guide review of The King’s School

Best of the rest:

Other standout schools for rowing include Bedford School, Eton College, Hampton School, King’s Ely, The King’s School, Canterbury, Lady Eleanor Holles, Monkton Combe, Pangbourne College, Abingdon School and Putney High School

Image credit: Shiplake College


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