So Eton, everything I expected and more

(965 Posts)
JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 16:03:27

My DS is at a private school, so I have experience of private schooling, but my word Eton was like another world.

Not just the school, but the people there.

There was one prep school being shown around, all in tweed jackets, and to a boy the spitting image of Draco Malfoy (well there was one Chinese boy, but otherwise....).

One of the mothers doing the tour was not quite right in some respect, I'm not sure how but something wasn't wired up correctly or something. She was immacuately dressed, 6-inch heels (pretty daft considering the confirmation letter warns about having a long walk), but she was just bizarre. The admissions tutor said 'we have a waiting list of 80 boys and typically 35% of these will make it through', and she asked afterwards 'so 80% of the boys from the waiting list make it through?', and it was then explained again, but you could kind of hear the cogs going round and she clearly didn't get it. She had asked several other similar questions; e.g., it was explained that some Houses are catering and others go to a central cafeteria, so she then asked 'so they all eat in the cafeteria'? She pointed at the Fives Court and asked me 'what do they play here?' I said 'Fives' 'Is it squash?', she said. 'No, Eton Fives.' 'So is it squash?' It seemed as if this woman had had the benefit of the 'Finishing School for the Terminally Dim', because she was otherwise every inch the presentable upper middle-class wife.

Another family had a son who looked the prototypical pre-Etonian, and sure enough Daddy spent the tour braying on about his House when he had been there.

The facilities were extremely impressive, although they didn't bother to show us any of the academic parts, and basically the impression was 'if your son is incredibly pushy and self-motivated, send him here and we will teach him to be entitled'. They said 'every year we reject about a third of the highest performers on the test', essentially because they aren't pushy enough. (The House Mistresses seemed quite nice though.)

Fantastic training for future managing directors and whatever, but not for us.....

Well worth it to sign up for a tour, very illuminating. They take about 100 a day from what I can see, so obligation at all....

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:14:56

Er, I refuse to use am not big on Eton jargon. But I'm pretty she was in charge of the House, not a wife of the Master or whatever.

And the tours are thrice-weekly, and there were three doing them on the day, she told me she did one a week.

Anyway, it just seemed a bit odd to do so many tours relative to the number of applications, which I believe are under 1000 - not astronomical by any means.

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 22:14:58

I can't imagine Winchester being much different from Eton in terms of pushyness (sp?). Winchester do open days for years 3 and 4 which seems very early (and therefore will attract pushy parents).

hmc Fri 02-Nov-12 22:16:11

Not quite sure why the OP is being so vilified for sharing her observations [ confused]

hmc Fri 02-Nov-12 22:16:46

Or even confused

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:20:51

dashoflime yes, another world definitely. It reminded me of a previous MN post by the DC of a MNer passing a London prep school at home time 'I never knew there were so many blond children in London, Mummy'.

I don't have a chip on my shoulder about these people by any means; I'm as it happens lower middle-class and quite happy with that, and I find the BoJo types amusing more than anything, it's just I told my Dad I was taking DS around Eton and he was like 'aren't they all like Boris Johnson and David Cameron?', and I was like 'no no, that's just because they're high profile, it's not really like that, it's a modern school, anyway we're just having a look'.

I think I was so convinced that it was all a myth that to meet quite so many of these people on these tour was a bit of a surprise.

Anyway, very enlightening and as I said, please sign up for a tour.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 02-Nov-12 22:25:59

Have you really rejected schools on the basis of threads written by strangers that you've read on the Internet?

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:26:58

The organ in the chapel was really quite stunning for example. The 15th century classroom also interesting. I think they will let anyone in for £10.50 a pop.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:27:34

>Have you really rejected schools on the basis of threads written by strangers that you've read on the Internet?

There are thousands of schools in this country. Do you propose to visit/contact them all?

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 02-Nov-12 22:33:26

Of course I don't visit or contact every school in the country! How ridiculous!

OP - you were mocking a lady who was on the same tour as you, but you have rejected schools because of other people's opinions! Those schools might not have been the right school for their child, but surely you are choosing a school for your child.

Floggingmolly Fri 02-Nov-12 22:38:48

I wonder what they thought of you?

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:39:48

Yes but if someone says 'School X is fab they play rugby 5 days a week' I am thinking sad, likewise if they said 'School Y is great, they let my 'free-spirited' DS do what he likes', and if someone said 'School Z is awful, they don't do art after Y7', then that for me might be a good thing.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:40:43

Floggingmolly: I can't think of any reason why I should care what they thought of me.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Fri 02-Nov-12 22:44:50

This is just wot I heard from an ex-public school boy who went to neither of the following schools, so you can take it with a pinch of salt; but he reckoned Eton was for the poshos and Winchester was for the clever boys.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 02-Nov-12 22:46:59

Personally, if I was considering boarding school for either of my ds's (they're both Farr to young for me to consider this at the moment) I would want to visit each school that appeared appropriate on paper (disregarding what anybody else thought) and make my own choices.

Perhaps my criteria would be stricter than yours so that I wouldn't have to visit the thousands of schools that are open to us in this country.

OP - I wish you well in your search for the right school for your ds.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 02-Nov-12 22:47:43

And perhaps I should proof read my posts blush

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 22:48:59

Mulled I thought that was always the case, with Harrow being for the very posh and not as clever as Eton or Winchester.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:49:35

I spoke to Winchester about scholarships and they said they would prefer a boy who is incredibly gifted in maths to someone who is merely 'good' at everything.

Whereas Eton explicitly said they would reject the brightest boys if they were not 'rounded'.

I'm sure, with the exception of Prince Harry & chums, that the Eton boys are all clever, but picking the cleverest is apparently not the goal.

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 22:51:11

My long list has 11 possible boarding schools. I'm going to whittle it down to 4-6 to visit and from that hopefully get to a first and second choice.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 02-Nov-12 22:51:16

It would be a dull place if that was the goal in my opinion.

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 22:52:12

Wellington will overlook a lower CE score if your dc has something else to offer.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:53:33

Well, Iwish, most selective schools do just that. Check out the selection procedure for the sw London state selective schools for example.

Narked Fri 02-Nov-12 22:54:34

Yes. Who would want a school where the brightest children were selected and academic achievement was valued above where your father went to school.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:55:45

Wellington is one we have ruled out, on the basis that Seldon seems insufferably ghastly.

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 22:56:51

I wouldn't choose Wellington either but I thought it was interesting that his guff about higher CE marks is rubbish in reality.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 02-Nov-12 22:58:24

I live nowhere near SW London so have no desire to do that thanks!

If our ds's do go on to a selective school then I am very keen that the pupils at that school will not just be selected on their academic achievements at the age of 10.

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