Eton scholarship admissions: advice please!

(82 Posts)
PriscillaLydiaSellon Tue 13-Nov-12 10:46:41

DS (10.5) is dead set on going to Eton. We can't remotely begin to afford it, so he is going to try for a scholarship/bursary. We have been told that he doesn't need to do anything until Y8, as he's only applying via the scholarship route - but teacher friends at two other boarding schools (which DS won't even look at, being fixated on Eton) have said that that in practice, children need to be registered in Y6 even if they are only applying for 13+ scholarships. Has anyone been there and done this? If so, I'd be very grateful for your advice...

Yellowtip Thu 15-Nov-12 11:40:45

Priscilla if you've put all the older DC through private school then you are seriously well off. It's slightly offensive to pretend otherwise. I think you said either four or five.

Clearly your son is astonishingly gifted but I had thought that Eton was pushing hard to get properly underprivileged boys matched up with these scholarships, not merely the sons of very well off people who affect poverty because so much of their disposable income has gone on expensive fees for their older DC.

Rather depressing really. I thought there was some subtance in it.

happygardening Thu 15-Nov-12 11:42:12

'But seriously, doesn't your son's prep school prepare boys for the King's Scholarship?"
This of all the points made OP is the most valid and I would say not only prepare but also have a recent history of success in the KS. The level required is extraordinarily high, the competition fierce we were told by Eton about 4 years ago that every year more and more boys sit it, and as far as I understand a boy has to shine in all areas no room for weaknesses although I believe you sit a core group of exams and then pick others and have plenty of interests outside of academia as well. A friends son who very recently sat it was surprised when the other candidates were detailing their others interests many were doing "voluntary work," running small businesses, writing computer programmes as well as the usual stuff 1st 11 cricket etc.

joanbyers Thu 15-Nov-12 11:45:29

"Rather depressing really. I thought there was some subtance in it."

Who knows, maybe there is, this is just speculation on a message board.

peteneras Thu 15-Nov-12 11:47:35

'Not sure if that was a numbers or quality issue'.

bisjo, there was one particular year when no Junior Scholarship was awarded simply because none of the candidates met the scholarship standard. And yet, in a few isolated years 5 JS's were awarded because the scholarship panel couldn't decide on which four to choose. It's quite usual to award only two or three and 'up to four' in any given year. I suspect the same criteria also apply to the present NFS. The Head Master is on record to say that it is one thing to receive gifts of money (donations) from benefactors but it is much harder to decide how and to who the money is to be spent.

happygardening Thu 15-Nov-12 11:52:35

Meant to add the outside interests are not always so easy for full boarders although obvioulsy not impossible (don't know if your DS boards but as he's a chorister he might) unless your at a very organised prep and you have plenty of time in the holidays etc.
Nothing of course is impossible but all these things take a lot of dedication on the part of your DS, your prep and you. We were once told that not only does your DC have to be very bright to get a scholarship but your DC also has to have the kind of dedicated motivated mind set.
I would also advise you to monitor his progress very carefully we discovered 6 months before my DS sat the difficult and demanding Winchester entrance exams that the Latin teacher knew barely more Latin than I did (none) we stupidly trusted the school and believed them when they told us that everything was "going well," the friend whose DS sat the KS also discovered the same thing she too had trusted the school. If you've set your heart on Eton no prep head is going to turn around and say they cant do the necessary work becasue they know they will loose you to another school.
Just beware.

happygardening Thu 15-Nov-12 11:58:25

I thought that one of the reasons for the NFS was that children from the state sector would not have been prepared for the demands of the KS. But if the OP's DS is a chorister at a prep that goes to 13 then surely that argument wouldn't apply.

PriscillaLydiaSellon Thu 15-Nov-12 12:37:30

Yellowtip, I have no desire to get involved in any kind of debate. You have no idea how/why/who paid the fees for DH's grown up brood, and it is not my business to pass comment about it. The situation with my DS remains the same: he is an extremely talented child who is set on going to Eton, despite the fact that the fees are more than we could dream of paying, and we need as much info as we can get.

peteneras and happygardening: your comments are so valuable. Thank you. I am quite sure that his current school wouldn't prepare him adequately for a King's Scholarship (it is perfectly ok, but not that good!) He is a very clever child, but obviously not remotely clever enough not to need tutoring for a KS (I've seen some of the papers...).

My own feeling is that he needs to go for a music scholarship, and we will be grateful that he's bright enough to do very well at CE without the added pressure of preparing for academic scholarship exams.

BlissfullyIgnorant Thu 15-Nov-12 12:50:30

Priscilla, if it's not too late, put him down for CE entry straight away. You might still have a couple of weeks. A friend didn't send in the CE application, her DS didn't take the Eton Test at 10.6 and although he applied for the Music Scholarship (a fantastic musician) and they really liked him, he only got an Exhibition which meant they couldn't take him - the application was just too late and they don't break their own rules willy nilly - it wouldn't be fair on so many other deserving boys. Phone them now and talk to the lovely Admissions lady 01753 671249. Get him in and get him tested. And take up every tour you can - we took DS on our second look around and we may as well not have been there. DS was practically glued to the Dame who took us round and ignored us completely. We took him on every tour we could after that because he just wanted to be there.
Also, apply for a bursary in principle at the same time and keep every letter you get, asking for more detail or clarification in writing where possible. It would be a shame to have the chance snatched away because funds were otherwise allocated.

Yellowtip Thu 15-Nov-12 12:52:47

I'm quite entitled to express a view about the apparent depressingness of the whole bursary system and would hope that a school like Eton does what it says it aims to do Priscilla, which is to seek out potential from the truly disadvantaged.

Yes Joan of course I know that MN misrepresents, it's bound to and it's reassuring to hang on to the fact that it does.

PriscillaLydiaSellon Thu 15-Nov-12 13:07:44

Yellowtip, I was referring to this comment: "Priscilla if you've put all the older DC through private school then you are seriously well off. It's slightly offensive to pretend otherwise. [...] I had thought that Eton was pushing hard to get properly underprivileged boys matched up with these scholarships, not merely the sons of very well off people who affect poverty because so much of their disposable income has gone on expensive fees for their older DC."

You are, as you say, quite entitled to express views about the bursary system as a whole - but not quite so entitled to comment on other people's 'serious wealth' and 'affectations of poverty'.

More to the point, though, is BlissfullyIgnorant's fantastic post. Thank you a thousand times for that.

happygardening Thu 15-Nov-12 13:07:53

OP BlissfullyIgnorant may be right that you need to have been offered a place at 10.6 and to sit CE to get in with a music scholarship definitely worth checking this! I'm assuming music scholars have to pass CE and don't live in the college but the "normal" boarding houses.

joanbyers Thu 15-Nov-12 13:10:54

I think the issue here is that the OP is convinced that her DS is deprived, despite, along with each and every one of his siblings, and his parents, having had the benefit of a very expensive and exclusive education (regardless of who is paying for it, and how), and is deserving of some sort of 'inner-city scholarship'.

Obviously if they need to get these super-gifted, over-achieving boys in at 13, there is a very open question of how they could reach the required base level from a background of true deprivation (deprivation of opportunity is really the bigger factor here than whether mummy and daddy earn £200k/year).

I think it is really very hard indeed, and I tend to agree with peteneras above that if they were serious about doing this, even if only for 4 children, they would probably take boys in at 7 and pay for a prep school through to 13, because the gap between what a prep school will make out of a gifted boy and what the NC expects of them is gaping.

I'm honestly scratching my head a bit at this thread, because the OP's family appear to know the independent sector like the back of their hands, and yet are determined that they won't submit their son for assessment through the normal route prior to 10 yrs 6 months from his date of birth, and must have a scholarship, even though the scholarships only reduce the fees from £32k to £29k, which is still an absurd and ludicrous amount of money - any reduction below that is based on financial need, not ability. I'm not sure if normal entrance is insufficiently prestigious or what it is, but it's quite an odd attitude, but as I observed on the other thread, Eton seem to like a sense of entitlement, so perhaps it will just pay off.....

<ignorant about Eton, but well up on 'normal' indys> And feel that bursaries and special scholarships for the 'deprived' (horrible term) should be just that!

peteneras Thu 15-Nov-12 13:20:53

Please rest assured Eton know exactly what it is doing. The School has been at this game for a good part of 600 years!!!

My advice is for parents who think they may get a scholarship/bursary to apply in the first instance and just fill in the form(s) honestly and leave the rest to the good hands of Eton.

Blissfully gives excellent advice. I was going to suggest that myself. All you lose is just £270 (?) registration fee (it used to be just £60 many moons ago) against a lifetime of regret. Beg, steal or borrow to get this done!

joanbyers Thu 15-Nov-12 13:23:43

This should give some idea of the kind of educational and family background Eton are looking for for their NFS:

www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/2992106/Sun-reader-Bradley-Mitchell-talks-of-his-first-year-at-Eton.html
www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/3857932/.html

Last years awards here:

announcements.thetimes.co.uk/celebration/timesonline-uk/celebrations-announcement.aspx?n=eton-college-awards-&aid=156443720

These are NFS boys I believe:

Albert Condron (Bishop Luffa School, Chichester)
Jamie Gander (St. Andrew's Cof E High School for Boys, Worthing)
Jamie McNeill (Linslade School, Leighton Buzzard)
Sasha Zaroubin (St. Edward's Royal Free Ecumenical Middle School, Windsor)

Fair enough smile

joanbyers Thu 15-Nov-12 13:24:58

"Please rest assured Eton know exactly what it is doing."

They don't know everything!!!

peteneras Thu 15-Nov-12 13:31:07

Who knows everything?

Yellowtip Thu 15-Nov-12 13:35:14

I tend to think Eton does know what it's doing peterenas.

I share your puzzlement Joan.

I also think fixations are truly, truly bad. Aspiration yes, fixation no.

PriscillaLydiaSellon Thu 15-Nov-12 13:46:29

Oh cripes.

"I think the issue here is that the OP is convinced that her DS is deprived, despite, along with each and every one of his siblings, and his parents, having had the benefit of a very expensive and exclusive education (regardless of who is paying for it, and how), and is deserving of some sort of 'inner-city scholarship'."

At no stage have I ever said or intended to suggest that my DS is deprived, or in need of an inner city scholarship. confused

He is fixated on Eton, and is going for a music scholarship + bursary. My question was whether we needed to do anything about this before Year 8. Several posters have given me some fantastically useful advice on this score, all of which I will be following up.

Joan, your longish post seems just mean. We are, I repeat, looking at a scholarship plus bursary. Eton fees alone would wipe out over half of our income. This doesn't make us 'deprived'; it just makes us, like the vast majority of the population, unable to afford the full fees.

If he does go there, I think he needs to go as a music scholar - because the school is so good on the musical side as well as being academically excellent. If he isn't up to an Eton music scholarship, I would look closer to home (my take on this is that if he wants to go, and can get his scholarship/bursary, then I support him one hundred percent, even if it's not what I would necessarily have come up with left to my own devices). The other option is specialist music schools, but I am reluctant to shunt a boy who's academically very good too down a strictly musical path. A music scholarship to a superb school with an extraordinarily good music dept seems to keep more options open for him in the future.

It is by no means the only school that offers fantastic musical and academic facilities. However, it's the one he wants to go to.

difficultpickle Thu 15-Nov-12 14:03:50

Why is he quite so fixated at on Eton?

PriscillaLydiaSellon Thu 15-Nov-12 14:08:16

He is a child who is very given to fixations. But I have quizzed him at some length, and he was obviously completely bowled over by the music schools (and was also very keen on the music director, as were we: he was lovely, and couldn't have been better with our DS). He loved everything about it: the buildings, the town, the uniform, the bedrooms, and particularly the organs (which he was allowed to play, to his immense and lasting delight)...

difficultpickle Thu 15-Nov-12 14:11:49

Have you looked at any other senior schools? Does he play the organ? My ds is obsessed with the one at his school and desperate to learn.

PriscillaLydiaSellon Thu 15-Nov-12 14:24:43

DH and I have looked, and are going to look at more. Yes, he does (he did a fantastic day in Edinburgh organised by the RCO, which I'd recommend to anyone with a child who's keen to give it a go). He loves it! We won't let him have lessons until his legs are long enough to reach the pedals easily, though. grin

difficultpickle Thu 15-Nov-12 14:43:04

Has your ds visited other schools? It is easy to be impressed if that is his only visit. Ime you only become critical once you've done a the rounds of a few schools, as I'm sure you know from your prep visiting days. I'm sure it is the same for senior schools only on a bigger scale.

We had tour of the school's chapel the other week and ds was very envious that we got to go up to the organ loft and watch the director of chapel music play. I was suprised that ds hadn't been up but I'm not sure small boys and large expensive organs are a good combination!

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