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....

Yellowtip Mon 19-Nov-12 18:08:21

I meant to say also that one very, very big plus of reading Medicine at Oxford or Cambridge is that the drop out/ kick out rates are minute compared to those elsewhere. 15% is horrendous, poor kids.

peteneras Wed 21-Nov-12 08:49:35

’As I understand it you're slagging off both Oxford and Cambridge Medicine, is that correct?’

Wrong!

I’ve never slagged off any medical schools in the UK, least of all Oxbridge ones. Can’t say about other countries though. UK medical students ALL strive to be ultimately registered under one umbrella - by the GMC (General Medical Council) and therefore, no school is better than the other.

But I, together with many others*, have always advocated London medical schools. The article by Jeremy Laurance that I posted, Britain's best hospitals: A patients' guide clearly shows what I said previously at MN that ‘London is where you want to come for your medical studies’ is well justified.

Quote:
'They are the benchmark institutions for high-quality care, and to which specialists in the field aspire. All 10 are in or near London – an accident of history that reflects the capital's ability to attract wealth and the professions to service it.’ [The Independent]

But what I’ve said many times and am still saying now, is, ‘Oxbridge is not the be all and the end all!’

Answer me, Yellow, are you disagreeing with me?

*A MN’ner recently emailed me this:
We have a family friend (top scholar at Wycombe Abbey) and she turned down Oxford to read Medicine at XXX (DS’s current school) - peteneras) on their advice of her parents who are medics.

peteneras Wed 21-Nov-12 08:58:45

’. . . what's it to you that he got 6A*?’

Absolutely nothing!

It’s just that you’ve been advocating to all and sundry at MN, and for as long as I can remember, that taking 3 A-Levels is enough somehow makes me wonder which way are you opting to jump?

’ You didn't answer the question about whether your Eton son is a 'yes man' because he too has multiple A*s? You implied only 'yes men' get these. . .’

Eton Head Master, Tony Little, was talking about a brilliant (Old) Etonian historian whose originality is being stifled for daring to venture off piste. His answers to the History paper were, even to your beloved Oxbridge’s standard, ‘first-class honours stuff’. Sorry he didn’t tick all the boxes and kow-towing to his particular History examiners and their fancy templates and becoming another Yes Man.

Eton don’t teach you to be a Yes Man. My DS is a million miles from a Yes Man; like I said in my recent post, he’s his own man. Also, he didn’t take History at A-Level - the only History he took was two years earlier and he didn’t need to be another Yes Man ticking all the boxes in the softer version GCSE exam in order to get an A*. Just go for the International version GCSE (IGCSE) where you can demonstrate your brilliance without kow-towing to anybody.

Yellowtip Wed 21-Nov-12 10:48:53

peterenas I think you're the only one on MN who has ever raised the possibility that some people might regard Oxbridge as the be all and end all. I've never ever lauded Oxbridge over other universities. My three girls only did 3 A Levels each and didn't have a problem getting offers, so clearly it's do-able. I think the tendency to make out that Oxford and Cambridge are unnattainable for ordinary, clever state school pupils is damaging and if I choose to extrapolate from the experience of my own DC in order to encourage other similar kids then that's what I'll do.

I find it absurd that you started this war against Oxford and Cambridge Medicine after your own DS didn't get a place at Cambridge (you told us he had an interview there on the UCAS thread at the time) but I don't personify anything that you're railing against so please take your vitriol elsewhere. It's deeply, deeply unpleasant. I'm glad for your very obviously very clever DS that he likes where he is. It's pretty much a lottery, getting the offer of a place for Medicine at Oxford and Cambridge, since the standard of applicants is so uniformly high. But to slag them off in this context is simply absurd.

DS took the A Levels he did because didn't want to drop a subject - his call.

You're right of course, they'll all end up as doctors, whether they choose to be at the business end or the research end or both.

peteneras Wed 21-Nov-12 19:23:17

Started this ‘war’ against Oxford and Cambridge Medicine?

Again, Yellow, I’ll have to ask you to show me where and when I started this ‘war’? Have you not considered that you cannot accept any criticisms about Oxbridge yourself? Especially Oxford, even when someone says e.g. Cambridge is better than Oxford over such and such, you’ll have to jump up and defend Oxford. I’ve nothing against Oxbridge though I do question seriously some aspects of Oxford’s admissions policy like its former Chancellor Lord Patten and the present Vice Chancellor did.

Your veiled attempts (and please do not patronise us for not being able to read between the lines in your many postings, including this one) about the supremacy of Oxbridge are just as ridiculous as your pretences.

‘ I've never ever lauded Oxbridge over other universities.’

’It's pretty much a lottery, getting the offer of a place for Medicine at Oxford and Cambridge.’

Well you just did, getting the offer of a place for Medicine at any UK university, not only at Oxford and Cambridge, is pretty much a lottery.

peteneras Wed 21-Nov-12 19:33:45

My apology to Lord Patten who is still the Chancellor of Oxford University today.

Ponders Wed 21-Nov-12 21:43:10

I expect he'll get over it, peteneras

incidentally, while you're here, I'd love to know how many of those King's Scholars who applied only to Oxford last year got places?

Yellowtip Wed 21-Nov-12 22:29:57

I hope he's already over it Ponders. He sounds pretty happy. It's the mum who's not and doesn't appear to be heading that way anytime soon.

You're ridiculous peterenas. I've never expressed an opinion of Oxford over Cambridge or vice-versa. Well, I might have said on a recent thread that History of Art at Cambridge was longer established than the course at Oxford and offered more places, but that's it. Absolutely, completely and utterly it. To say otherwise is deluded.

Unlike you, who has to have it that the school her kid attended is vastly superior to every other school in the land and indeed world. And that the uni he now attends is vastly superior to every other school in the land and possibly world. What a load of nonsense. And how narrow. And how lacking in grace.

So, everything I expected from Eton, and more? Actually, given the Eton parents that I know, I would have expected more - much more. Their sons have been charming to my girls throughout - never tried to claim rank and always very graceful in acknowledging any small success they might have had. Absolute equals in every respect.

Ponders Wed 21-Nov-12 22:33:40

I meant Lord Patten, Yellowtip wink

Yellowtip Wed 21-Nov-12 22:37:28

I've just looked at your links peterenas and I don't get any particular point.

Yellowtip Wed 21-Nov-12 22:41:11

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh. Ponders why did you say that? Why?

Ponders Wed 21-Nov-12 22:56:30

sorry

blush

peteneras Thu 22-Nov-12 03:01:23

Not all King’s Scholars applied to Oxford, Ponders. A large number opted for Cambridge reading Science/Maths degrees. Of the small group (two or three) who put down only Oxford, all got places reading BA degrees. Not all KS’s went to Oxbridge either. Some went to London and Ivy League universities in USA. Eton have in the last four or five years been positively encouraging the boys to look outside the ‘traditional universities’ especially to USA. DS is the only one amongst his peers reading Medicine although nearly half of his peers’ parents are high-flying medics from the UK and abroad. Do they know something that I don’t? confused

peteneras Thu 22-Nov-12 03:07:50

’ I've never expressed an opinion of Oxford over Cambridge or vice-versa.’

Well, just quickly off my head, I seem to remember you had a serious disagreement with a Cambridge admissions tutor (or is it the wife of one?) of all people, about admissions to Cambridge.

joanbyers Thu 22-Nov-12 03:20:51

"Eton Head Master, Tony Little, was talking about a brilliant (Old) Etonian historian whose originality is being stifled for daring to venture off piste."

My originality is stifled when I wipe my backside.

He was doing an A Level exam. Not submitting a PhD thesis, or a book manuscript.

Knowing when to be off-piste and brilliant, and when not, is a skill.

"His answers to the History paper were, even to your beloved Oxbridge’s standard, ‘first-class honours stuff’. Sorry he didn’t tick all the boxes and kow-towing to his particular History examiners and their fancy templates and becoming another Yes Man. "

I can just see his passport application being thrown in the bin. 'I refuse to tick boxes, I went to Eton!' Followed by call from various Eton Masters to someone in Croydon and the reply.

peteneras Thu 22-Nov-12 03:44:53

’My originality is stifled when I wipe my backside.’
Especially when you have haemorrhoids!

’I can just see his passport application being thrown in the bin. 'I refuse to tick boxes, I went to Eton!' Followed by call from various Eton Masters to someone in Croydon. . .’

No need for phone calls and all that . . . they run those god-damn places! grin

peteneras Thu 22-Nov-12 03:49:01

’Unlike you, who has to have it that the school her kid attended is vastly superior . . that the uni he now attends is vastly superior. . .’

No, I don’t have to have it. Everything I said on MN are just my opinions and opinions of some professionals and learned individuals (thus the many links in my postings) who’d spent time studying and writing on the subject on schools and medical schools. You don’t have to agree with any of these opinions the same way I don’t have to agree with yours, so what’s the problem?

Whoever sends their kid(s) to which school/university is none of my business - remember, they’re just faceless individuals in cyberspace. But you seem to be very obsessed with my son’s Eton education which caused you to launch head-on into vicious personal attacks on me right from the beginning when I first joined MN. I took your personal insults and attacks as a kind of MN joke but you’d assured me they were not.

Just wondering what are you doing here on an Eton thread anyway?

’I've just looked at your links peterenas and I don't get any particular point.’

That’s because you refuse to see it, Yellow. Oxford’s own Chancellor has expressed concern about his university accepting students who were ‘second best’. That’s his words, not mine.

Quote:
’State pupils should not be favoured over those from private schools, the Chancellor of Oxford University insisted yesterday.’

’Lord Patten accused 'social engineers' of trying to force universities to make up for the failings of comprehensive education.’

’He said that while Oxford would strive to be socially inclusive and dig out hidden talent it would be ' suicidal' to accept students who were 'second best'.’

Yellowtip Thu 22-Nov-12 09:43:45

Very, very difficult for you to found a charge of viciousness on my part peterenas grin. I assume what you dislike so much is that I couldn't give a toss and remain completely unruffled.

Joan hasn't so far objected to my being on her thread and I believe you lack the standing yourself. Since I've been to university with Etonians, worked with Etonians, lived next to and amongst Etonians and currently have friends who are parents of Etonians I think I have an entirely legitimate place on the thread. It really isn't that cloistered a club.

Chris Patten is saying in the 2008 article that Oxford will not accept second best. Not that they have done so in the recent past or are doing so now. Get a grip of your tenses.

I've taken issue with one wife of a Cambridge don who gave out totally misleading advice about the process for offering interviews for Medicine at Oxford (all very clearly set out on the Pre-clinical page of the university website and totally at odds with what she was saying). Pretty important for any MN parent who wants accurate info, not waffle. And I recall taking issue with a Cambridge don who went over the top in attempting to encourage applications, since she said B grades were fine.Her intentions were obviously good but that's an irrelevance really. MN is supposed to be a source of good information and so far I don't believe I've ever got anything university related wrong. There may be a reason for that.

Yellowtip Thu 22-Nov-12 09:47:05

Of course in neither case did I say anything about Oxford being superior. The whole notion of arguing that one is better overall than the other is utterly lame.

peteneras Sat 24-Nov-12 00:57:40

’ Joan hasn't so far objected to my being on her thread and I believe you lack the standing yourself.’

Oh really? The parent of an Eton King’s Scholar lacks the standing on an Eton thread as opposed to an Eton wannabe? Like you say, get a grip!

’I've been to university with Etonians, worked with Etonians, lived next to and amongst Etonians and currently have friends who are parents of Etonians’

In your dreams perhaps?

’ Chris Patten is saying in the 2008 article that Oxford will not accept second best. Not that they have done so in the recent past or are doing so now.’

So what’s all this nonsense about targeting the poorest postcodes* and flagging up students, etc.? And why the need to address this issue by both the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor if the university had not been criticized for doing so?

Even their own website clearly states that contextual data of applicants would be used and have been, and still being used in their admissions process.

I’m not against widening access; on the contrary, I’m all FOR it. But social engineering is not the business of universities. That’s best left to the government and schools to do it in the early stages of a child’s education. University is the final arena where everyone competes on an equal footing just like the Olympics.

*Quote:
'Alex Ferguson needs to make judgments based on football ability and Oxford needs to make judgment on intellectual ability,' said Smithers. 'The only issue should be the talent of the person. The government is keen on social engineering and [Oxford] university seems to be bowing to that.'

Mo Farrar, an immigrant from deprived backgrounds wasn’t ‘flagged’ up by the IOC and given a 4-lap head-start in last summer’s London Olympic games. Neither was triple Olympic gold medalist, Usain Bolt flagged up because he came from underprivileged Jamaica. Both competed in their events fairly and squarely without asking for special favours.

Yellowtip Sat 24-Nov-12 09:50:45

You have no place whatsoever to ask me to leave Eton threads peterenas. After all, I don't ask you to leave the Oxbridge threads. I might start though grin.

In my dreams indeed! This would be grin if it wasn't quite sad. Etonians are out there in the real world peterenas and I've known and know plenty. A mixed bag, as one might expect. Some charming and some complete dicks. Some clever and some really not clever at all.

All universities (including Cambridge as well as Oxford) use contextual data. Etonians don't get more adversely affected by this than the highest achieving states or any other good independent however. Are you implying they do, or that your DS did? It would have been marginal I'm afraid. Though I have heard a few independent school students (the weaker ones) moan that they're being discriminated against. That's just sour grapes. Students are only flagged up right at the other extreme.

You don't get the Chris Patten thing peterenas. Oxford and Cambridge have both said officially and emphatically that they haven't so far taken second best and they won't be doing so now or in the future and that the government can bog off if it seeks otherwise. The corollary of that is that the students currently there are all first rate and merit their place.

Yellowtip Sat 24-Nov-12 09:56:07

Incidentally you need to read up on the flagging system peterenas. It doesn't extend to the offer of places, only to the offer of interviews.

Yellowtip Sat 24-Nov-12 10:00:58

In fact re-read all your linked articles. The message is clear: to seek out first rate potential. Seems fair confused.

joanbyers Sat 24-Nov-12 22:08:31

Lol @ peteneras taking the Fred so seriously. It's just words on a message board. No standing required.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 24-Nov-12 22:13:16

I think that to help Peteneras take all this a bit less seriously and cheer him up, I might ring him up pretending to be a funny African who doesnt speak idiomatic English. He will like that. Of couse it will probably turn out later when people suggest that might have been a little on the racist side that all I did was hand his personal phone number over to the racists.

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