Is there anyone on mumsnet with sons/nephews/close friends at BOTH Eton and Winchester ...?

(87 Posts)
TRL Mon 16-Jun-14 19:09:48

As title says, is there anyone who has sons or close contacts with both schools. We have offers from both for Sept 2016 and are really floundering in deciding between them. Am very happy to PM you if I know who to PM...?!?

I have read many threads where people extol the virtues of one or other but I'd really like some compare/contrast advice from someone in a position to see the differences ... if any ... suspect lots?!

Thank you smile

Helpys Mon 16-Jun-14 19:13:34

Close friends at both but not a fan of boarding I'm afraid, so not much help!
If you've got offers from both I'd go for the one that's easiest for you to get to, to attend Sports Days, concerts etc.
What does your son want to do? Are there other boys from his prep going?

thesaurusgirl Mon 16-Jun-14 19:31:45

Have friends and clients with children at both.

To my eye the kids are much the same, it's the families that are different. The Etonian children always seem to have at least one toff parent (not always English but always posh, eg Italian aristocrat). It's a very social school and many of the parents seem to know each other. The boys are very confident but who knows whether this is chicken or egg.

Winchester families seem to be more meritocratic. The boys seem to be a bit gentler. Being out in the sticks means there isn't so much parental hobnobbing.

All the kids seem to be very happy at their respective schools.

summerends Mon 16-Jun-14 21:34:03

Apart from the differences in uniform, social stereotyping etc ask your DS whether he likes, is more himself with the older boys from his school going / that have gone to Eton or Winchester. My DS has commented that some of his old friends after several years at Eton have become more arrogant and full of themselves (with their peers rather than adults). Make of that what you will.

happygardening Mon 16-Jun-14 22:18:07

I was talking to a parent a couple of years ago within a DS at both she felt Winchester was more intellectual and a bit more serious. I've recently heard not great things about the pastoral care at Eton from a couple of current parents, our experience of the pastoral care at Winchester is that it's excellent. I saw the CBB's program on Eton I hated the way they had to read out their marks in class, the teacher knew what they'd got as he'd marked it what was the point? They don't do that at Winchester I checked! Eton is very much a brand I struggle to see how the serious non conformist would fit, at Win Coll its very much for the non conformist free thinker walking his own path. Eton's facilities are significantly better, boys are in single rooms which many think is great again personal preference. Eton is also much more sporty, sport at Win Coll is optional, there is no drama in the main curriculum at Winchester it's an extra curricular activity but they do put on 5-6 plays a term but your DS has to make the time to do it. There is also no music unless you choose it as one of your option before you start. I believe at Eton music and drama are part of the main curriculum and compulsory for all of yr 9 (this was what a friend told me a couple of years ago). At Winchester the house master is the most important person responsible for all aspects of a boys school life from academic to personal at Eton this job us done by tutors. Also at a Winchester the a house master has considerable autonomy and this creates significant variations in the houses including the food. A friend whose DS is at Eton particularly hated this. Parents are friendly at a Winchester but it's not so sociable I suspect. It is also hands off parenting, trust the school and let them get on, no news is good news which suits me but some might want more information/input.
Eton is the only school my DS goes to for competitions that doesn't offer match tea (even London day school do) and the boys leave before the competition is over we were always told this is the height of bad manners!

IndridCold Mon 16-Jun-14 22:37:38

< bags seat in front row, opens crisps, waits for peteneras to arrive >

summerends Mon 16-Jun-14 22:40:38

HG, your last comment resonates with similar comments from my DS and his friends, the Eton boys don't seem to make an effort to make conversation with visiting teams or look after them. I thought that was because they were always having to rush off somewhere else but maybe that is not a sufficient excuse. It does reinforce the image that their politeness with adults don't extend to children of their age.

summerends Mon 16-Jun-14 22:42:22

grin at Indrid. As you know these comments are all generalisations and would n't possibly apply to your DS.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Mon 16-Jun-14 22:54:12

Ouch Indrid! You're sitting on my lap. The premier seats filled up ages ago.grin

happygardening Mon 16-Jun-14 23:04:14

My final comment isn't an impression it's a fact, Eton don't offer visiting teams match tea and they leave a competition once they've done their bit, they don't sit it out till the end. Are they busy rushing off somewhere else? I would have thought day children would be keen to go home but they stay till the end of the competition and accompany the visiting team to the specially provided tea.
Poor show IMO.

IndridCold Mon 16-Jun-14 23:06:36

Sorry zero, quite happy to move up wink!

happygardening Mon 16-Jun-14 23:20:29

I'm not disputing that Eton is an excellent school many we know whose DS went there or are there love it. Frankly I was surprised by the comment the two current parents made about the pastoral care.
They are different and one might suit a boy better than the other.
Winchester of course only offers the harder Pre U and most boys only do three, the good thing I personally think is there is no public exam at the end of yr 12 if you do the Pre U. Winchester also doesn't do IGCSE Eng Lit or history but teach both a part of "div" so much more free ranging the boys love it.

ResponsibleAdult Mon 16-Jun-14 23:30:36

Eton do offer match tea. Pitch side there is a Costa/Starbucks concession or stand type thing in a barn that you pay for, WHAT! Eton, you can't afford to host guests. You walk to get match tea. It's ok, nothing special. Boys post match get chips, beans, burger type thing. Parents tea and sandwiches are in the boys dining hall canteen.

Winchester, can't comment as we don't play them, too far away.

I do know a Fulham mum who told me " You wouldn't fit in with the Eton parents". Wasn't sure whether to be pleased or disappointed grin

happygardening Mon 16-Jun-14 23:48:56

Well they've never offered my DS match tea in the three years they've been going there, and no refreshment on the side either. By the time the competition is actually finished the vast majority have gone and those that remain have never taken them to the dinning room they just go off as well. At most schools the master in charge of the particular sport also ensures visiting teams with their associated staff and any watching parents know where to get refreshments but for some unknown reason not at Eton. Maybe it's just my DS's sport but it's the only school where pupils don't stay till the end and refreshments aren't offered.

TRL Tue 17-Jun-14 00:20:53

Thanks for all your comments. DS1's prep sends 2-5 to Eton most years but only 1 to Winchester about every 3 years - there are therefore few parents at any time with experience of Winchester to ask our endless questions of ....

Match tea etiquette doesn't really faze me that much unless it's symptomatic of a behaviour throughout the school; I simply don't remember a single match tea / service thereof in my time at school but do remember how we were taught at home to take people's coats, serve drinks etc, so I hope DS1 will follow suit, regardless of schooling.

I'm surprised too, happygardening to hear any negatives about the pastoral care at Eton - everything we've heard is what a strength it is.

So for DS1, his view is that Winchester's plus points are its sense of quiet and beauty, he thinks that the teaching there is better (not sure why as he's never had a lesson in either school!), and that he wouldn't be forced to do sports he hates (team sports basically - see no match teas for us!!). He sees Eton as having better facilities (he lives for drama, music, art and history), better subject choice in Year 9 and having more societies, he likes the idea of his own room and it's closer to us so he could come home for family birthdays etc (30 mins by train rather than 1 hour).

He's likely to take the scholarship exam whichever we choose.

Eton seems like a very well-oiled, slick machine of a school whereas Winchester appears more quirky. I suppose our over-riding concern about Eton is whether he will become really arrogant by the end which is the stereotype, of course; and with Winchester, we worry that whilst he'll have a lovely, gentle time thinking in his peaceful meads through adolescence, will he actually really have the wherewithal to make good in the world afterwards or will he be always dreamng of pastures green ....

Lengthy ramblings, eh, and only a fraction of the mullings spinning in my head. Prep Head also sees DS1 happy at both schools (marginally in favour of Winchester because of DS1's intellectual approach although the only reason we looked/applied to Eton was because he suggested it as a great fit); he's going to chat properly when the chaos of Sports Days etc i over.

So, no-one around with a child in both schools???

Jenda Tue 17-Jun-14 00:30:00

No help whatsoever but whenever I see Winchester College boys around the town they always seem lovely and polite and smiley and not cocky at all, makes me smile even though I dislike the idea of boarding school myself.

Jenda Tue 17-Jun-14 00:30:50

Oh, and never seen any of the, drifting through meadows dreaming their education away either grin

summerends Tue 17-Jun-14 06:20:06

TRL if your DS is drawn to the quiet and beauty of Winchester that is a strong indicator that he will be very happy there. I agree that the subject choice at Winchester is a downside for some but that is changing from next school year. Drama will remain extracurricular.
Interestingly I recently found out that both the founder of Innocent drink company and the editor of the Economist are Wyekamists.

Why do the teachers at Eton get their boys to read out their marks in front of the others?

nowahousewife Tue 17-Jun-14 06:37:54

We've had the same match tea experience as responsible adult at Eton however, unlike other schools the Eton boys do not eat with their guests.

Sorry OP no advice to offer as no experience of Winchester. I would say go with the one you feel will make your son happiest, if you are happy you will always do well at school.

happygardening Tue 17-Jun-14 07:39:53

OP my DS hates team sports one of the things that made him miserable at his prep. He avidly pursues a slightly niche non team sport. We hadn't really grasped till he went there that the only team sports he had to do was a term actually it might only have been 1/2 a term of football in the first term and I think that was no more than 1-2 times a week, and half a term of Winkies in the second term then he joyfully threw away his rugby boots /ruby shirts (don't buy new ones if you go, the 2nd hand shop must be stuffed with virtually unworn ones) saying no more team sports ever again
This freed him up to do his own sport three times a week (which is why they've been virtually unbeaten for two consecutive years as other schools usually only do it once a week).
My DS feels the lack of courtesy shown to them when they go there for a competition is indicative of the schools attitude, no other school is this rude. I always thought it was an unwritten rule that team stays till the end winning or loosing (I'm sure it's a little tedious when you're very busy but we all have to do tedious things in life), it's also the home sides responsibility to thank the visiting side for making the effort to come, the winners responsibility to congratulate the losers on putting up a good fight and the winners are obviously congratulated too. If the home side have all buggered off this doesn't happen, it's just not good manners I believe good manner are still very important even in the 21st century.

happygardening Tue 17-Jun-14 08:12:19

I also agree OP about the peace and quiet at a Winchester. We also had two offers SPS and a Winchester the peace and quiet at Winchester was for us one of the positives, when ever I go there even on a busy school day I'm always struck by the peaceful surroundings I think it contributes to the unworldly feel of the place. I can't comment in how this sets you up for your adult life, but as I guess from your nickname you live in London this surely is less of an issue for you than for my DS living in rural Smalltownsville.
We've never found the subject choices a downside, IB aside, there's nothing not being offered at Winchester that my DS would have liked to have done. I'm not sure what other subjects could be offered frankly.

summerends Tue 17-Jun-14 08:19:57

TRL, just another thought. If your DS may take the scholarship exam, why don't you ask for your DS to visit College and attend some lessons at Winchester and the same at Eton. He then would have more of a feel for both as would you.

abear Tue 17-Jun-14 08:36:31

Not entirely relevant to the thread but isn't Eton's motto 'May Eton Flourish', whilst Winchester's is 'Manners Maketh Man'? Maybe this is being reflected on match days.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Tue 17-Jun-14 08:55:50

Ok, so, (and other throat clearing noises...)

"Our" prep sends zillions to Eton and, in recent years generally between half a dozen and a dozen to Winchester every year with a fairly impressive array of scholarships to both. I don't have "mummy" friends but I can tell you what the boys themselves have observed.

They generally "know" before the pre-test results come out who will get in to Eton. They can explain exactly why this boy is on the B list (waiting list) and even more brutally why that boy ended up on the C list (no place.)

It's different with Winchester. It seems to divide between the acknowledged geniuses - working a year ahead maybe, no surprise that they eventually get scholarships and.... boys who no one would have expected to get in. I have had several conversations with an 11/12 year old open mouthed with astonishment that a boy who did not get in to Eton now has a place at Winchester.

I have tried to argue that this must mean Winchester sees some potential in the boy that the other school did not - but in all honesty I don't really know what conclusion it would be correct to draw.

IndridCold Tue 17-Jun-14 09:12:36

abear that reminds me of an old joke some once told me.

Three men are with a lady when suddenly she feels faint (told you it was old!). The Wykehamist offers her a chair, the Etonian goes to fetch one and the Harrovian sits on it and continues his anecdote.

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