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Meet our head of golf

While the state sector continues to sell playing fields to raise money, one leading independent school has made an ambitious new appointment to its PE department - a head of golf.

Dean Halford, a Professional Golf Association coach, has been employed by Mill Hill school, which aims to use booming interest in the sport among the young to attract new pupils.

The north London school believes the academy he is setting up can help it win national schools tournaments and eventually produce European Ryder Cup players.

Pupils will be able to practise on the school's own putting green, have their swing analysed by computer in the classroom and receive individual coaching on Hendon golf course, five minutes away from the school.

William Winfield, headteacher, said: "We have been increasingly aware of the growth in popularity in the sport, particularly among the younger students." As a result as many as 30 pupils will be able to adopt golf as their main sport at Mill Hill, allowing them to play throughout the year.

Mr Halford said he thought it would a valuable recruiting tool for his new school. "Golfers are good students," he said.

"They tend to come from good backgrounds. They are well behaved boys and girls used to spending four or five hours on the golf course talking to parents."

He also hopes the academy will help would-be professionals by allowing them to put in the practice they need to succeed, while continuing with their academic education.

Mill Hill is now in a club of three British schools employing their own golf coaches, he said. The others are Loretto school, Edinburgh, and Millfield school in Somerset, his former employer. Mr Halford estimates another 100 or so British schools regularly enter golf tournaments, but said none of them are from the maintained sector.

A former comprehensive pupil himself, he said most children from state school backgrounds succeed through private clubs.

He intends to widen access to Mill Hill's student facilities through three annual bursaries - two in sport and another in drama - being set up to celebrate the school's 200th anniversary.

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