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Talented Athlete Programme

The Talented Athlete Programme gives our students the opportunity to maximise their athletic performance through attending extra training sessions run by our dedicated team of sports professionals. 

Sutton Valence School rugby boys standing in front of their pitch proudly

The main emphasis of the programme is based around the improvement of our young athletes in the key components of strength, conditioning, speed, and agility. These dedicated sessions are run to ensure that our young athletes not only develop athletically but gain the knowledge and expertise required to take control of their own training regimes in a safe, effective, and meaningful environment. The Talented Athlete Programme is designed to empower our students to improve their athletic performances both inside and outside of school and to give them the education, understanding and confidence to train like elite athletes.

The programme is open to all students and our Sports Scholars and Exhibitionists are required to attend weekly sessions as part of their roles as Sports Award students. Students are given bespoke training programmes in line with their age and maturation. As well as catering for the physical development of our young athletes, the Talented Athlete Programme also gives students the opportunity to learn relevant sports psychology, sports nutrition and avenues towards professional sports. 

External professionals in these fields regularly attend to provide students with insight into the world of professional sport and how these different fields can have a positive impact on sports performance. 

Athletic Conditioning Coach

Mr Andy Dawling leads the Talented Athlete Programme, combining his experience as an elite level Rugby coach with his background as a personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach to ensure that our students have outstanding opportunities to develop as athletes. Mr Dawling is an ex-professional Rugby player who played for the Harlequins and Gloucester and who served for over twenty years in the Parachute Regiment in the British Army. He represented both England Rugby Sevens and the British Army in a distinguished sporting career. Mr Dawling is a Level 3 Rugby coach and a UKCC accredited Strength and Conditioning coach. He was a personal training instructor in the British Army.

Pupil Testimonials


I joined Sutton Valence School for the Sixth Form duration of my student life. The transition from a large state school to an independent school half the size was an eye-opener due to the vast differences in facilities, teaching styles and most importantly the sporting department.

Prior to my visit, I had heard a lot about the successes of the sport within SVS, especially the Rugby and Hockey, and about the way they provide external support to others within the community, with the conditioning facilities and swimming pool.

My main focus besides from studies was Rugby and the ways in which I can contribute to the team. Mr Howell and Mr Dawling, the backbone of both the Rugby team and sporting avenues across the school, provided the motivation, support, adrenaline and many other characteristics not only just for myself but for the others across the board.

This support was immense and needed, especially during key parts of the Rugby season, including representing the Saracens academy during the inaugural U18 academy league. The fact that SVS had a partnership with the academy made the journey even more special because of the way in which both the grounds and the gym was used by specialist coaches.

In addition to this, we experienced specialist training sessions with Kelly Brown and James Tyrell coming in for skills sessions that added another layer to our game. Besides from additional coaching sessions, post-match analysis played an important role to the success of the 1st XV because it allowed us, as a team, to identify certain strengths and weaknesses and taking these to training sessions in preparation for the next fixture.

Strength and conditioning was a huge aspect that improved me as an athlete. The Strength and Conditioning Suite provided the equipment and the space needed to get in the zone and push yourself to the next goal. In addition to S&C, the cardiovascular suite enables us to either cool down on the bike or treadmill after a big session or further increase our fitness in the long run. The pool also played a major part to recovery when it came to midweek fixtures, as it was the perfect way to wind down.

The rugby at SV has been a journey I will certainly never forget, especially the final year where we made it to the finals of the National Schools Vase competition.

Rugby at SVS has certainly built my self-confidence and improved my athletic capabilities.

I would like to thank SVS for giving me a chance to experience the best of the best when it comes to sporting facilities and providing me with memories I won’t forget. I am also grateful to now be an Old Suttonian and hopefully transfer the knowledge I’ve gained onto new and upcoming athletes throughout the school.

Nathan Bispham (2020 M)


I moved to Sutton Valence School in Third Form and was overwhelmed with the amazing facilities and the amount of access we were given to them. I took full advantage of using the Strength and Conditioning Suite, as well as the cardiovascular gym, under the guidance of Mr Braddick and Mr Dawling during the lunchtime Talented Athlete Programme sessions to improve my strength, speed and explosive power.

As I got older and mastered each technique, I progressed onto using the bar and adding heavier weight to keep improving my power and endurance. This extra work in the gym really helped to push my performance to the next level.

I have competed in Performance Centre, Futures Cup, DISE and earned a Hockey scholarship to Kent State University in Ohio, USA. Furthermore, I now feel confident to use the gym on my own and create a program to keep improving my performance.

Alexandra Sacker (2020 S)



Since moving to Sutton Valence School, it has been clear to me just how significant access to excellent facilities and outstanding coaches are to aid development in the sport. Before joining SVS, I found it quite difficult to find time to go to the gym and when I did go I did not have the expertise on hand to boost my conditioning and performance. The fact that you have access to the amazing level of facilities and standard of excellent coaches makes the School second to none in terms of a place where you can maximise your athletic conditioning and be the best you can be at your chosen sport.
Harvey Beaton (2019 F)
England Rugby U20's (Six Nations winner 2021) and Saracens Professional Rugby Player



When I first came to the School, I had never been to the gym before, however, I was keen to supplement my cross-country and athletics training with some strength and conditioning work, and so began attending two lunch Talented Athlete Programme athletic conditioning sessions under the guidance of Mr Braddick and Mr Dawling. Initially, we worked on building a strong base with key leg and core exercises, and after a few years, adding more technical movements, introducing bar work to aid explosive strength as well as maintain endurance. This led to vast improvements in my race performances, and I have since competed for Kent on numerous occasions and have been selected to race at England Schools level. I have been taught how to safely and effectively train and I now feel confident in going to university and creating my own programme to ensure my athletic conditioning continues to increase my performances further.
Ellen Crombie (2019 L)
Regional Athletics long-distance runner and English Schools Athletics competitor

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Sutton Valence School

North Street, Sutton Valence, Kent, ME17 3HL


Tel: 01622 845200


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