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....

Blu Fri 02-Nov-12 16:15:19

Wow - they should have a visitors blog, so that we could read other people's impressions of you!
Do you have to pay to go on a tour? Sounds like a good day out. Private schools near me charge for open Days.

Or are you the marketing manager for a rival school?

agh, no, this is a state v private thread, isn't it? Doh!

happygardening Fri 02-Nov-12 16:20:48

'every year we reject about a third of the highest performers on the test',
They don't take these because there is no room for loose canons at Eton I would have thought you'd have picked that up from the tour!
It was when the heads wife told us in all seriousness that the boys we were about to meet at the tea and biscuits bit had been carefully chosen for their good looks that I knew we were looking at the wrong school,

Could have saved yourself the trouble of going and just kicked back and watched this.

Makes me laugh every time.

Colleger Fri 02-Nov-12 17:57:42

I'm glad you've discovered the real Eton after one tour. My son is there and I still don't know it!

Pointless post! hmm

dapplegrey Fri 02-Nov-12 18:12:53

Did you go on the tour just so you could sneer about it on mumsnet?

happygardening Fri 02-Nov-12 18:27:04

I doubt there are any schools out there that you can get to really know in a couple of hours. Most of these rapid guided tours are probably a complete waste of time your only looking at facilities dorms etc you might if your really perceptive get a general feel but not much more than that.

IndridCold Fri 02-Nov-12 18:34:06

You disliked a school because you went on the same tour as Mrs Nice-but-Dim??

Is that your point, because if not I'm not sure what is.

ScarahScreams Fri 02-Nov-12 18:38:27

So the woman in the heels was asking questions to learn more about the school stoopid fool! , but you knew it all didn't you? hmm

Coconutty Fri 02-Nov-12 18:39:29

I think your mind was made up before you went tbh, and it's a pretty poor show to be such a bitch because you think one of the other mums on the tour wasn't as clever as you'd like.

Sneering about Eton, no problem - though inverted snobbery about one private school when you send your children to another private school? Not sure about that really.

But the sneering over a dim woman, in heels shock, right on sister.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 18:58:59

happygardening, we met one of these pretty boys though we didn't know we were going to. Basically I was standing in the tea and biscuits hall gawping as the Draco Malfoys laid waste to the biscuit pile, feeling slightly out-of-place (I make a point of not dressing up for open days), and wondering where all these people come from, and I was approached by a person in a wooly jumper who asked 'So did you have any questions about life at Eton?'

I'm not accustomed to people approaching me at open days and asking me things, and wasn't told to expected it, so I was a bit thrown by this and said 'er, no I don't think so'.

V. pretty though.

We spoke to the Admissions Tutor after that, a man with a shock of professorial hair and a bow tie, and asked what he meant by rejecting the top scorers on the test and what was expected, and whether they wanted depth or breadth and he said 'well if a boy had a grade 6 in violin we'd accept that, but if he had a grade 3 in violin and a grade 3 in piano we'd take that too'.

The whole thing was a little bizarre to be honest. We had heard they had special needs this and modern that, and then we did this tour with dozens of others, including, bizarrely, girls, and it was all about how wonderful that you could be building submarines and inviting Michael Heseltine to tea, and then the presentation at the end was basically 'if you're not captain of the rugby team/a leading light in the local amdram/whatever/don't waste your time'. The housemistress said that she did one tour per week, and I had to wonder why they invite so many thousands of gawpers round only to tell them that if they are not already burnishing the extra-curricular section on their UCAS at the age of 10 then forget it.

I didn't have an issue with the House Captains board saying '2008: Lord Derby' or whatever below the '2007: JA Smith' etc., nor particularly with the odd people on the tour, it's just that there is this sort of Eton stereotype and I had read 'oh no it's not like that, it's a marvellous modern school', which was more than a little misleading.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 19:09:28

There was quite a bit more re the pushiness, e.g., the Admissions Tutor in his talk about the waiting list said that some of the boys on the waiting list would email him with their test results from school on a regular basis, and when he visited prep schools they would make a point of having the waiting list boys show him round.

seeker Fri 02-Nov-12 19:13:16


exoticfruits Fri 02-Nov-12 19:14:54

I went on a tour-not as a prospective parent but on a public tour in the summer holiday. I was very impressed. The woman who did the tour was very down to earth and dressed very casually -no fashion style at all-she had had 3 DSs there and one DS was now a teacher.
They might have some pushy parents being shown around, but they will probably be weeded out.

dapplegrey Fri 02-Nov-12 19:20:20

The school is oversubscribed. What are they supposed to tell the 'gawpers'?
"yes of course your boy will get a place" and then inform them that no such place exists?

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 19:26:22

The school is less oversubscribed than other schools, both state and private.

They however seem to encourage gawping in the form of a daily parade of tours, which seems a bit odd/disruptive.

exoticfruits, the tour woman did seem down-to-earth and casually dressed. The admissions tutor wasn't though.

Didn't get the impression that they wanted to weed out pushy parents, quite the reverse.

exoticfruits Fri 02-Nov-12 19:33:17

I can't really say-as someone on a tour ,who wasn't looking to get my DC a place, I was very impressed.

exoticfruits Fri 02-Nov-12 19:33:50

Had I been there as a prospective parent I may well have had a different view.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 19:51:39

oh and yes, very impressive. Just not my cup of tea.

Puppypanic Fri 02-Nov-12 20:12:39

Your point being what exactly hmm?

happygardening Fri 02-Nov-12 20:19:03

OP on the positive side at least you've made a definite decison; thanks but no thanks and you'll just have to keep looking.

Colleger Fri 02-Nov-12 20:29:26

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kilmuir Fri 02-Nov-12 20:31:02

how odd

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 20:39:11

If you are on the waiting list and you know they don't offer places off the waiting list in strict rotation why wouldn't you be doing all you could to get a confirmed place? After all you have done the same as everyone who got a confirmed place but at the time the places were confirmed you weren't quite good enough/what they wanted. If you can show the improvement/change then it makes perfect sense to meconfused

Maybe I'm a pushy parent and I just haven't realised it?

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 20:39:56

Joan did you go on a tour as a prospective parent? Which other schools are you considering?

Pooka Fri 02-Nov-12 20:41:28

WHat a horrid op!

You sound very, I don't know, maybe bitter. Whole post written as if you're sucking a lemon.

I know relatively little about modern eton. My children won't be going there. I have no bias. I can't imagine why you seem to want to be so mealy-mouthed and plain snotty about a school.

Sargesaweyes Fri 02-Nov-12 20:48:58

I don't understand the post. What's a pretty boy? Was Draco Malfoy there? Were you looking for your son or just being nosy? Very confused..... It's a good job I wasn't on the tour or ever likely to be

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 20:52:47

I suppose the OP is trying to say that only the good looking boys get to show prospective parents around the school.

I thought it was odd that she wasn't used to being asked questions at open days. I've not done many open days and none for senior school yet but at everyone I have been asked questions. Lots of them.

I don't know about dressing up either. I wouldn't dress as if I were going out for dinner but neither would I wear my gardening clothes.

ReallyTired Fri 02-Nov-12 20:59:39

I think that people who go on a tour to gawp at a school are pretty sad. I imagine that Eton must feel pretty fed up with time wasters.

Eton and the ilk are a seperate world to me. I wouldn't mind going on a tour to see Eton as tourist and even paying a reasonable amount for the privilage.

I met some ex etonians at university and they were normal young men. Some of them were obnoxious, but others were lovely. I have no direct experience of Eton, but I imagine a large school like Eton has a mix of personalities.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 21:24:56

I am really not criticising it. It was pretty fab, just perhaps that it's completely unsuitable for many bright boys. (Have just been sitting with DS while he worked through Higher Tier GCSE Maths paper on the sofa, so he ain't thick.)

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 21:30:53

> What a contradiction. How can the tour be disruptive if you didn't get to see the academic classes?!

Because the housemistress is busy showing people round rather than looking after her charges for example?

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 21:33:50

Wouldn't her charges be in lessons during the tour?

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 21:34:54

There were a few boys in the house when we went around.

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 21:36:05

What do you think she should have been doing for them that she wasn't?

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 21:36:45

What year is your ds in?

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 21:38:25

She spoke to one boy when we were there, I'm not sure what it was about, something about a prescription I think, he obviously needed her help. Later on she spent about 10 minutes on the phone while we were in the D&T department, so there was clearly other things she had to do.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 21:38:41

my ds is in Y6.

Trifle Fri 02-Nov-12 21:44:20

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OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 02-Nov-12 21:48:42

Just a reminder that Mumsnet's raison d'être is to make parents' lives easier - any concerns do click the report button - we're help to help.
Peace, love and Eton mess to all

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 21:50:37


peteneras Fri 02-Nov-12 21:50:53

". . . but my word Eton was like another world. . . Not just the school, but the people there."

Well, I tell you what, my DD's grammar school thought they were in another world and especially the parents - each thinking they're worth 10 million!

On the other hand, my DS's school was as humble as pie and made me feel completely at home - the first person that I had a serious engagement with at this school, the matron*, no less, made me feel as though I'd 'known' this women for the last 30 years while in fact I'd only just met her for the first time!

The school?

Eton, of course.

Good that the OP isn't sending her DS to Eton. One less problem for the School to consider and one happy boy moving up the waiting list.

*matron = Dame

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:02:30

As I said, great if it's what you are looking for. They (and others) did however seem to think that 'we are the best' as if 'best' is an absolute concept rather than one relative to each child.

I'm quite pleased not to have to put together a grovelling UCAS-for-a-ten-year-old application to be honest, god knows I hated doing my own at 18.

Apart from the Draco Malfoy school which I can only imagination is some sort of labour camp for the children of the terminally pushy, I do wonder where these children are coming from who come up to the requisite level of 'roundedness', haven't met them up at my DS' prep school and I wouldn't say the parents there are exactly shrinking violets.

Ho hum.

happygardening Fri 02-Nov-12 22:03:23

Because the housemistress is busy showing people round rather than looking after her charges for example?
House mistresses, housemasters dames/matrons, resident house tutors assistant house master, no resident house tutors and everyone else attached to a busy boarding house will all have other committments as well as looking after their charges. Most teach many have significant repsonsibilites e.g. director of curriculum. I suspect that showing a bunch of parents round is actually one of the least time consuming of their committments. These children are 13 + they are not supervised 24/7 if they have a problem then they know how to find an adult to help them.

happygardening Fri 02-Nov-12 22:06:31

some sort of labour camp for the children of the terminally pushy,
OP I sorry to be the one to tell you this but if you look at any highly slective school; Eton Westminster St Pauls etc then I think you will find its very very pushy that is the nature of the animal.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:06:32

It seemed quite time-consuming to me, to spend 3 hours each and every week, showing parents round. One Saturday a year, or whatever, I could understand.

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 22:08:13

Not at all hg, please be frank. We are still in a dialogue with Winchester (have yet tovisit), but were able to reject St Pauls and Westminster on the basis of threads such as these.

happygardening Fri 02-Nov-12 22:10:27

I suspect the same people dont do it every week when we went we were shown around by a house masters wife not an actual housemaster. She had no teaching committments and most of the pastoral care is not done by the the HM's wives but the Dames HMs etc.

happygardening Fri 02-Nov-12 22:11:44

Don't delude yourself Winchester is equally as pushy.

dashoflime Fri 02-Nov-12 22:14:54

OP: sounds completely bizarre and hilarious. Despite what others are saying YANBU to find the experience odd or to post about it here.

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.

Narked Fri 02-Nov-12 22:59:16

Yes, but if you sent them to a state school or a private day school you'd actually have to see your DC. Every day. shock

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 23:00:57

Narked that is the true advantage of boarding, plus not having to do their laundry wink

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 02-Nov-12 23:05:40

That is another reason that I won't have to consider the "thousands of schools in this country", Narked!

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 02-Nov-12 23:07:08

Actually, not having to do all of their laundry could be a definite advantage wink.

SirSugar Fri 02-Nov-12 23:07:26

What a bonkers thread

JoanBias Fri 02-Nov-12 23:07:31

We are mostly looking at day schools tbf. But we just want the best school. if that's a boarding school, so be it.

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 23:09:46

Iwish it is really the true unsung hero of boarding life. I miss ds but I really don't miss doing all his laundry. Eveything is washed and pressed and either put in his sports bag or hung in his wardrobe. It doesn't even get sent home in the holidays grin

difficultpickle Fri 02-Nov-12 23:11:44

Joan there are fab day schools and fab boarding schools. The best school will be the one that is the best fit for your ds. I would have thought a child that is 10/11 will have a pretty clear idea of whether they wanted to board or not.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Fri 02-Nov-12 23:12:05

I think I'll grin and bear doing their laundry and the shirts of the entire rugby team! wink

Pretzelsmakemethirsty Sat 03-Nov-12 04:56:00

Fascinated by the abuse that was dished out to the OP - what bitchiness here! Really, keep the love coming...not!

FernandoIsFaster Sat 03-Nov-12 05:36:05

You are the most sneery, unpleasant sounding op I think I have come across on mumsnet. As for poking fun at the 'terminally dim' you are not coming across as the sharpest tool in the shed yourself.

kerrygrey Sat 03-Nov-12 05:45:36

I love this thread! OP is giving her opinion, and doing so amusingly. She hasn't named the dim mother, and Eton itself can take a bit of mockery. It isn't going reduce the demand from parents who want what Eton offers.

Lavenderhoney Sat 03-Nov-12 05:56:28

Op, is your post to start a thread about parents of children at public school? Are you concerned about the quality of mums you might come into contact with and the standards you require? That is not a good way to choose a school IMO but each to their own. And ridiculing someone for not knowing what 5's is- at least she was asking questions and not caring what people thought of her perceived ignorance. No doubt she had some thoughts about you!

mathanxiety Sat 03-Nov-12 05:57:05

<Fernando, you obviously haven't seen the 'taking the piss out of 4x4s' OP in AIBU.>

Wondering why someone would make a point of something as seemingly insignificant as 'not dressing up for open days'.

FernandoIsFaster Sat 03-Nov-12 07:03:40

But Kerry it's not just Eton that OP is mocking, she spends 2/3 of her initial post poking fun at some woman she deems 'wired up wrong' for wearing high heels confused. If she had just kept her attitude confined to Eton I don't think anyone would have got the same reaction.

FernandoIsFaster Sat 03-Nov-12 07:04:43

Not 'anyone', I meant 'she' - sorry, been up since 5am!

exoticfruits Sat 03-Nov-12 07:32:28

This is a hilarious thread - I can imagine it being read out loud - especially parts like 'Seldon seems insufferably ghastly' - without meeting him!

You are the most sneery, unpleasant sounding op I think I have come across on mumsnet. As for poking fun at the 'terminally dim' you are not coming across as the sharpest tool in the shed yourself.

Woah gosh take a look at your own post!
OP seems fine re: pleasantness, she doesn't seem dim in the slightest! She's being v. v. even tempered in replying to all the, yes, sneery comments. If she were just talking to you in conversation and describing her experience......would you even think what you've written? Doubt it. Just because it's in writing everyone gets all het up.

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 09:06:28

I think Eton is an unusual choice as it sounds as if the OP was pre-disposed to dislike it. Why waste the time on a tour?

Ds is keen to go there since he saw their gangnam style video. Probably a bit too influenced by that at the moment as he got kept in at breaktime for doing that dance whilst walking between lessons yesterday smile

kerrygrey Sat 03-Nov-12 09:24:13

Fernando - so it's fine to mock a named school (because it's Eton?) but not an anonymous woman? I don't see it that way.

bisjo - I'm somewhat pre-disposed not to like Eton, but I'd love to go on the tour in the hope that it might change my mind.

peteneras Sat 03-Nov-12 09:56:44

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

OP, that’s not Eton talking. Rather, that’s one housemaster talking. And Eton have 25 housemasters. Each has his own quirks and fancies. In a way, it’s not Eton selecting you, it’s the housemaster selecting you.

But if your boy is really the brightest star, (and I do mean the brightest star) and had for example, never touched a rugby ball or a football in the past 13 years of his life, there is yet an Eton house specially dedicated to such a boy, rounded or otherwise whereby he selects himself. The house is ‘College’.

Mind you, your very bright boy will have to sit some of the very toughest exams a 13-year-old boy will ever sit. And if he’s successful, he walks into Eton as a matter of right and will be known as a King’s Scholar with the initials ‘KS’ attached to his name everytime his name is mentioned at Eton - even long after he’s left the School.

Bessie123 Sat 03-Nov-12 10:02:21

This thread and the fact that Spencer Matthews from mic went there and the 30 grand fees have put me right off Etonian for Ds

Bessie123 Sat 03-Nov-12 10:03:00

Eton, dur

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Sat 03-Nov-12 10:10:16

Well, from subsequent posts it sounds more like she was predisposed to dismiss all the stereotypes and was then a bit shocked to discover some of them seemed to be true.

I'd be put off by the "well-roundedness" at expense of academic ability too, it offends my sense of meritocracy. But then I'm probably a hopeless idealist!

I found it an interesting OP anyway. Bonkersly outside any experience I am ever likely to have, but interesting. What a dull world it would be if we were all the same.

givemeaclue Sat 03-Nov-12 10:23:47

Think you only went for a day out?.. did yet take a picnic and the dog?

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 10:38:46

I think well roundedness is a good thing. It will take you further in life than pure academic ability imvho.

I am going through the whole process re: prep school for dd, and have been astounded at the sheer loveliness of the way we have been treated - we have done the open day, had a tour by the head, the pre selection test (to ensure she is up to standard( what with being at one of them state schools at the moment) - after she had done it, he called and spent a good half an hour going through everything she had said and done, and saying she is more than capable of passing the entrance exam), we have had several letters from him and are going to a taster day next week. And no, it's not just because he wants our money - he knows full well we need a bursary and is more than keen for us to still send her there/ the school itself is gorgeous, the children are 60% pre prep, and 40% state school and dd and i both loved it. Not too sure of the point of this - just I guess that not all private schools are so selective in who they get to show children around or biaised towards rich, pushy parents.

Bessie123 Sat 03-Nov-12 10:47:04

It seems to me that parents would want their kids at Eton so they can have a well-rounded education, lovely social manners etc. tbh, if my dc were already like that anyway I would see an overly expensive school like Eton as a waste of money

FernandoIsFaster Sat 03-Nov-12 11:00:30

I don't think it's fine to mock Eton, I was privately educated myself so would have no cause to mock.

What left a bad taste in the mouth about the OP though, was her focus on ridiculing this woman who was just minding her own beeswax trying to find a school for her child.

rabbitstew Sat 03-Nov-12 11:14:14

I feel sorry for the poor mum who chose the wrong clothes for the occasion and probably therefore felt a bit flustered and unable to take in anything that was said to her! And if they do offer quite so many tours and therefore attract quite so many tourists there for a laugh, then I'm not surprised they try to make it sound unattractive to anyone but the most serious applicants! As for who would want what Eton offers - it most definitely would not be for me or my family as I tend to prefer people who can be honest about having some insecurities (ie admit to being human).

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 11:17:06

Ds is well rounded and has lovely manners but if Eton is the right school for him that is where he will go. At the moment I think there are other schools that will be a better fit but we have a couple of years before we need to decide whether to register him there or not.

Joan hasn't your prep given you an idea of the sort of senior school that would suit your ds?

JoanBias Sat 03-Nov-12 11:20:39

"OP, that’s not Eton talking. Rather, that’s one housemaster talking. And Eton have 25 housemasters. Each has his own quirks and fancies. In a way, it’s not Eton selecting you, it’s the housemaster selecting you. "

No this was the admissions tutor explaining the admissions process.

We were told that the house selection process comes only after the boy has been admitted.

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 11:24:16

That is different to Winchester as it seems there you have to choose a house before admission. I find the whole prospect of choosing a house to be more daunting than choosing the school. I've been rather put off the schools that put all the year 9s together.

JoanBias Sat 03-Nov-12 11:28:02

bisjo I think Eton is a bit more modern in that respect, they said you choose 2 houses and they choose 2, and then you pick one out of the four, but you don't have to worry about this until your son has passed the exam.

OTOH Winchester will take you in I think Y8, if you pass the scholarship exam, presumably on the basis that there is then no decision to make about the House.

Pretzelsmakemethirsty Sat 03-Nov-12 12:41:55

I think the OP has demonstrated great restraint and tact, in the face of the barrage of abuse that was hurled at her for posting an amusing observation! I thought, from what MN HQ keeps stating, that MN is all about being supportive... Guess not!

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 12:52:07

Does Winchester put all the scholarship boys together like they do at Eton? I didn't realise that. I guess it takes away the need to choose a house then! <<goes off to tell ds he'd better win a scholarship>> grin

SoupDragon Sat 03-Nov-12 13:07:24

Your paragraph about the other mother is foul and sneering. WHich makes me think that your other opinions are equally pointless.

JoanBias Sat 03-Nov-12 13:20:16

Yep they all go in one house bisjo. From what I've read, the Winchester scholarship selection process can pick quite a few savants, which you might or might not prefer. I don't think there's any financial preferment any more (they are moving to bursaries), so I'm not quite clear what the point is - I think you are honestly better off, if you can, meeting all the Housemasters and choosing the one you like best, since that would give you far more choice, IYSWIM.

rabbitstew Sat 03-Nov-12 13:26:58

Well, you could say that anyone who can be so ruthlessly judgmental of others is clearly the right material for Eton themselves, according to their own description of it (pushy? self-motivated? with a sense of entitlement?...), even if their child isn't...

JoanBias Sat 03-Nov-12 13:52:14

I'm not sure I'm qualified for Eton admission rabbitstew.

FernandoIsFaster Sat 03-Nov-12 14:04:49

Pretzel - if you find her 'observation' on the other mother amusing rather than bitchy then I would question your sense of humour.

And mumsnet generally is about supporting other women and mothers, which is why people are sticking up for the poor mother who was the object of OP's bitchy excuse me, amusing, observation.

teacherwith2kids Sat 03-Nov-12 14:06:29

Joan, as I presume that you are researching Eton for your ASD child, I presume that you have made suitable enquiries about pastoral care and SEN provision?

Pretzelsmakemethirsty Sat 03-Nov-12 14:24:40

SoupDragon Ouch! That's pretty harsh!

rabbitstew Sat 03-Nov-12 14:37:06

I didn't say you were qualified for Eton admission, though, JoanBias, did I?... Just that you come across as pushy, self-motivated and with a sense of entitlement yourself, in your OP.

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 14:39:44

I'm assuming that Eton was recommended by the OP's ds's prep and maybe she feels a bit disappointed that the school isn't one where she can see her ds going. I know if that happened to me I would be questioning how well my ds's school knew him. One of the things you expect from a decent prep is that they know your dcs well and can make informed and sensible recommendations for their senior schooling.

kerrygrey Sat 03-Nov-12 15:14:50

I thought the original post was amusing too. Are you all really so 'nice' that you never make scathing comments about anyone? Apart, of course, from MN posters whose opinions annoy you...

FernandoIsFaster Sat 03-Nov-12 15:23:40

I never make scathing remarks about people I don't know who have done nothing to offend me.

IndridCold Sat 03-Nov-12 15:48:29

The fact remains that this is quite a strange OP, even by MN standards. The title of thread gives us to believe that OP has recently visited Eton (which she has) and would like to share her experience. If you just look at her comments about the school then they are interesting, if not particularly illuminating.

However, almost two thirds of the OP are taken up with criticism of the other people on the tour, one unfortunate woman in particular. It is not suprising that this has brought about some fairly strong reactions.

We visited a few schools when we were looking for DS, and often encountered some parents who were a bit strange and who made us snigger a bit. While I might judge a school by the current set of parents, I certainly wouldn't judge it by the parents who had merely come to look around.

In fact the most irritating parents we came across had been to look at so many schools that if we had applied that criterium it would have ruled out every school in the south of England smile.

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 16:00:06

At one school open day I attended all the men turned up in uniform - double breasted navy blazer with gold buttons, chinos, black shoes and stripey tie. It was really funny as I didn't see a male visitor wearing anything different and it put me off the school in a totally irritational way.

IndridCold Sat 03-Nov-12 16:12:23

bisjo yes, that might even put me off grin. There are quite often identifiable groups though, the blazers group, the business suits group, the tweeds and grey flannels group, the very casual jeans and open necked shirts group, the Armani group and so on...

mathanxiety Sat 03-Nov-12 16:28:33

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.

This cuts three ways ---
upper middle class
presentable wife (and one who went to finishing school so perhaps not employed)
terminally dim

Further on there is the comment that the OP considers herself lower middle class and doesn't have a chip on her shoulder (lol).

Plus a comment about the appearance and clothing of the admissions tutor.

The person in the woolly jumper who threw her for a lop by asking if she had any questions about Eton at a guided tour of Eton geared specifically for parents looking for schools for their sons was wearing a woolly jumper but was v pretty...

The OP herself makes a point of never dressing up for this sort of event.

Wellington doesn't even get a look in because of her perception of one individual.

In other words, there is a focus on externals here that may have resulted in a certain amount of clouding of judgement.

There are remarks about the selection process for various different schools, the expressed desire to find the best, but nothing about what may be best for her particular child.

I actually find the whole spiel quite snobby. To casually indicate that you are considering an expensive public school for your child and to dismiss certain schools on very flimsy grounds seems to me to be an exercise in 'look at me, I have a very bright son and I can be as whimsical as I like when it comes to choosing a school for him'.

JoanBias Sat 03-Nov-12 16:29:33

> Joan, as I presume that you are researching Eton for your ASD child, I presume that you have made suitable enquiries about pastoral care and SEN provision?

Yes I enquired about that by telephone and they made lots of positive noises and said I could speak to someone about it on the Open Day and the GSG said things about them having led the way in SEN support and so on, so I was reassured by that.

However when I got there I felt that the environment was not suited to an (my) ASD child cf. a school where perhaps it's more contained, and also perhaps in view of some of the other boys there.

The housemistresses doing the tours seemed very nice, but at the end it was 15-20 minutes of this rather intimidating character telling us how rounded you needed to be, and then when we went to the tea + biscuits room there wasn't obviously anyone there whom I could ask questions such as 'how suited is this environment to an ASD child?' (there was no-one there at all I could see, apart from the boy in the nice jumper and the tea ladies).

I certainly wasn't about to follow up my question to the scary admissions man on how grade 3 piano and grade 3 violin would be just as acceptable as grade 6 violin, with 'so er, my son doesn't have grade 3 anything, and he has an ASD, what can you do for him', I just thought 'let's get out of here'. Especially after the scary admissions man said 'So boy, what do you think of the tour', and my DS responded with 'er, um', and didn't know what did you say.

I wasn't, btw, criticising the woman in the six-inch heels, I was just somewhat fascinated by her. E.g., the D&T man said 'So this project was done by our A Level students'. Heels: 'So would this have been done by the oldest children?' I would say that it's a great advert for an expensive education that she scrubbed up so well otherwise really.

mathanxiety Sat 03-Nov-12 16:29:49

lop = loop

mathanxiety Sat 03-Nov-12 16:37:26

When you say someone went to 'Finishing School for the Terminally Dim' then you really are taking the mickey out of her -- your intention and your effect may not be the same but it is the effect that everyone sees, and most people infer intention from effect.

Calling her 'Heels' is a case in point.

JoanBias Sat 03-Nov-12 16:40:31

"There are remarks about the selection process for various different schools, the expressed desire to find the best, but nothing about what may be best for her particular child."

? Not at all, the whole point of this thread was to relay my observation:

* Eton is stereotyped as Bullingdon Boys
* I had read this was not true, and that perhaps my decidedly-non-Bullingdon son might feel at home
* I went there and found that I did not feel that he would, and that, whether it is the £31k/year fees filtering out whole swathes of IMO more 'normal' people that I've seen at say £13k/year schools, or the Eton reputation/history, a large number of people there pretty much conformed to the Eton stereotype, which is not something I looking for in a school for my son.

I tend to learn the following at each school we visit:

* might this school be suitable for my child?
* if not, then what does it do well, e.g., are the science laboratories fantastic, is the music department amazing, what sports do they offer?

The more schools you visit the easier it is to judge others, in terms of what they lack in comparison to say, Eton, in their range of sports offered, or another school in pastoral care, or whatever. That's true even if you have decided that that school is definitely not on your list.

I can obviously share what I've been told about selection processes for various schools, but in terms of what is the best school for my son, I'm afraid I'm still looking.....

Ephiny Sat 03-Nov-12 16:43:14

I don't have any personal experience of Eton or any strong opinion about the place, but to me the OP just seems like a nasty sneery post making fun of some woman you took a dislike to for some reason. You might be more intelligent than she is, but you sound quite an unpleasant and shallow person.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 03-Nov-12 16:43:51


what are you actually looking for with regard to support in school for your ds?

Ephiny Sat 03-Nov-12 16:45:49

I mean, if you don't feel the school would be a good fit for your DS for whatever reason, then of course that's a perfectly reasonable judgement to make.

But mocking other people for their dress, appearance, social class or personality/intelligence? That's just childish, small-minded and nasty. I would have thought that with a child with disabilities you might see the value in being a little open-minded and accepting of others and their differences. Or does that only work one way?

dapplegrey Sat 03-Nov-12 16:51:04

"a large number of people there pretty much conformed to the Eton stereotype"

How many boys did you actually talk to on your tour?

Netguru Sat 03-Nov-12 16:57:05

OP. bitchiwst post of the week in my self run no prizes competition.

Over half of your words aimed at deriding other parents. How on earth do you know that the mother you are referring to diesn't have short term memory issues? Or was her choice of shoe enough to make you rule out the school.

Winchester is for the exceptionally bright. Eton is for bright confident all rounders. Both teach good manners and respect for others who are less fortunate than yourself. Perhaps you should consider the same....

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 17:12:55

Hasn't your prep recommended some senior schools? Especially as your ds is in year 6. We are supposed to talk to our HM in year 5 about senior school choices.

rabbitstew Sat 03-Nov-12 17:23:17

If the poor woman in heels didn't know what Eton Fives is, then how come you assume she had a colossally expensive education, herself? I would have thought that someone born to send their children to Eton would at least know that, so maybe you just failed to see beyond the clothes and the accent (neither of which were necessarily the way she normally comes across)... As for whether Eton would be any good for a child on the autistic spectrum, however, I agree, from what you describe, that Eton does not sound at all like a school which welcomes people of all sorts. But then you yourself are not looking for a school which welcomes all sorts, you just don't think that Eton's particular form of exclusivity meets your child's needs - to go further and imply their idea of exclusivity is wrong and pathetic and yours perfectly acceptable is a bit OTT, imo. You just don't like being on the receiving end of the exclusion part of exclusivity and felt like your child probably would be excluded from that environment (imo).

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 17:26:41

I don't know what Eton Fives is without looking it up. I put that down to my poor state grammar education. I'm hoping for better for ds. All I want his for him to play Eton Fives, duck duck goose and to be happy. grin

kerrygrey Sat 03-Nov-12 17:32:03

Fernando (& maybe a few others) - you are obviously saints.
"For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”; Jane Austin

mathanxiety Sat 03-Nov-12 18:01:02

It seems from your OP that you learned that one woman dressed inappropriately and had trouble following the tour, details about the personal style of the admissions tutor, and that Eton boys are pretty Bullingdon wannabes. If your intention in visiting Eton was to find out whether it was a suitable school for your DS who has a SEN, that certainly didn't come across in your OP or many of your subsequent posts.

If your DS has a SEN then why would you ask questions not at all related to SEN of the bow tie and hair man:
'We spoke to the Admissions Tutor after that, a man with a shock of professorial hair and a bow tie, and asked what he meant by rejecting the top scorers on the test and what was expected, and whether they wanted depth or breadth and he said 'well if a boy had a grade 6 in violin we'd accept that, but if he had a grade 3 in violin and a grade 3 in piano we'd take that too'.

And if you asked SEN related questions, then why not mention that in your OP and omit details about the unfortunate object of your derision (aka 'Heels') and the sartorial style of the admissions tutor?

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 03-Nov-12 18:06:47

perhaps you may want to look at inderpendant specialist schools, but the fees are about twice what eton charges.

rabbitstew Sat 03-Nov-12 18:32:31

If you don't think the school is for your ds, anyway, then I don't see why you were scared off asking direct, open questions about the way Eton deals with SEN when you were given the opportunity. It would have been no skin off your nose to put them on the spot if you weren't desperate for a place for your child, and it's not as if they didn't approach you directly to ask whether you had any particular questions in mind... no need to be put off by someone in a woollen jumper! Or an admissions tutor who doesn't understand where your question about breadth versus depth is coming from. You might have got more enjoyment out of turning them into frightened rabbits in the headlights... or even been pleasantly surprised by their answers.... but now you'll never know. No great loss on either side, though, I suspect.

notnowImreading Sat 03-Nov-12 19:30:28
rabbitstew Sat 03-Nov-12 20:29:11

That is quite funny grin.

Colleger Sat 03-Nov-12 20:58:51

There is no Eton stereotype. That's the whole point of Eton!

seeker Sat 03-Nov-12 23:02:33

Really, Colleger? Isn't it you who thinks school completely stiflesindividuality and clips children's wings?

difficultpickle Sat 03-Nov-12 23:04:27

I think the OP was referring to parental stereotypes not pupils.

topknob Sat 03-Nov-12 23:07:12

this well there was one Chinese boy, but otherwise....) you are a racist twat it would appear !

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 00:33:14

Could you explain how that is racist topknob?

Colleger, I'm pretty sure there is an Eton stereotype. Stereotypes are not always true of course.

MulledWineOnTheBusLady Sun 04-Nov-12 00:47:55

I do find it a bit odd that you're getting such a hard time here, OP. I've certainly come across people who are a bit "lights on but nobody home", like this woman appears to have been. So have lots of people here, I'm sure. Half of AIBU would cease to exist if people didn't notice and comment on such things.

FairPhyllis Sun 04-Nov-12 01:42:31

How odd. Is this some sort of stealth boast thread? I couldn't tell through all the layers of snark, condescension and chip-on-shoulder-carrying.

Good God, someone at an open day approached you when you were looking a bit lost and politely asked if you had any questions? The bastards! Where do they get off with their entitlement?!

Here is a biscuit to have with your Eton Mess.

Astelia Sun 04-Nov-12 03:03:50

OP you sound so superior and rather mean. One of DD's close friends is at Eton. He isn't sporty or musical- he is a bright, nice, unassuming and thoughtful lad. The boys are not all braying types. Do you actually know anyone who goes there?

kerrygrey Sun 04-Nov-12 06:38:29

All these lovely people who have NEVER remarked to friends about peculiar people they've met! I expect they even say nothing if someone cuts them up when driving. As as for calling one boy Chinese - how racist can you get!!
One thing for certain, they don't live round my way, and I don't think I'd want to know such a humourless crowd.

Colleger Sun 04-Nov-12 07:20:52

Do you wait to pounce on all my posts seeker?

At what point is your comment relevant to mine? They are not related in any way. And shock that you remember comments I wrote months ago!

Mominatrix Sun 04-Nov-12 08:06:48

Actually, I do get my feathers ruffled when people refer to the Chinese boy. How does she know he was Chinese? Eastern Asia is full of many countries, only one being China. I have called Chinese, ching-chong all my life AND I AM NOT CHINESE! My children, half French and half a different East Asian ethnicity are always being called - "Hey, Chinese Boy!" THEY ARE NOT CHINESE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This REALLY upsets me, my parents, my husband, and my children.

Ephiny Sun 04-Nov-12 08:16:36

I am no saint and not always a nicey-nice person, but even to me the OP seemed pointlessly bitchy about everyone she'd met on the visit, and I couldn't understand what her point was really.

Was it supposed to be funny? confused <humourless>

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 08:20:59

I am not a fan of boarding schools as you never know if your child will be the one damaged by them, but Eton is pretty good and not easy to get into. We wouldn't want that. My daughter's old school North London Collegiate which often does better than Eton in exams although I would suggest they are level pegging would be similar - most who apply don't get in. With boarding however surely they are right to tell you if they want a certain kind of boy as you need someone robust enough to cope with the rejection by those whom you love which boarding school involves.

On "Chinese" one lady who identified a robber to the police as being "fat" was castigated. Sometimes these terms are just a way people use to describe someone. I don't think that means people are racist mostly when they say it. I was at a boarding school concert recently and not been for 10 years and what was absolutely amazing and lovely to see was about 15 first and second violinists virtually 100% Chinese (in this case genuinely I think from China) (the violin and piano being the only instruments countenanced by some Tiger mothers) and how good they were and that change over the time period in ethnicity of the boarders but of course it being a little skewed because it was violins.

Yes, there are thick mothers around. Plenty of men marry women because of the size of their breasts and because she is blonde and 20 years younger than he is and then he's surprised the child is as thick as a plank and ends up at Millfield. You reap what you sow and I suppose where you choose to sow it. May be the sex and ego boosting makes it worthwhile.

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 08:43:02

I thought it was a funny thread before you started Xenia- you brighten up a wet morning! grin

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 08:45:04

What? How can my rendering it not funny brighten things up?

It is certainly wet here.
I obviously at this point I always refer people to the boarding school survivors' association.

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 08:46:41

I love the way that you bring blonde bimbos in!

Mominatrix Sun 04-Nov-12 08:48:25

Xenia, Chinese is not a way of describing someone whose ethnicity is Eastern Asian any more than calling you Polish or German because you are from Europe is. As the world turns more focused on East Asia, it becomes vitally important to realize that there are many different countries and they are very different. To call a Korean person Japanese or Chinese is extremely insulting to them due to what happened in recent and past history. If you don't know the specific country the person came from because you think we look all the same, simply describe us as Eastern Asian!

kerrygrey Sun 04-Nov-12 09:01:22

Mominatrix - obviously calling after someone "Hey Chinese Boy" is extremely rude, but mistaken ethnicity happens. I go to countries where Brits are quite rare and 90% of the time I am assumed to be American because I'm heard speaking English. At first it was mildly irritating but on the whole I just grin and bear it. I've no more wish to be American than you have to be Chinese. (on one occasion I was asked if I was German because I "looked like one"- I don't wear a dirndl skirt or have blonde plaits!)

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 09:05:51

Absolutely. The boys I was describing were from mainland China.

It is also an issue here - my borough is 18% hindu with a hindu primary school in the state system. You can't call them Indian (a) because they are English born here but also (b) because lots of them are from Pakistan and there is no love lost between those two sides.

I just finished a book about North Korea. That certainly went into the history of the issues the Koreans have had.

We have similar issues here - the English in favour of booting out the Scots and most of the Scots wanting to remain in the Union.

It's just that colloquially in English we use that word Chinese to use to describe them and what our esteemed Duke of Edinburgh called slitty eyes in one of his worser moments. I dont't hink if you said Eastern Asian that is yet known enough for people to use. They are very important issues. Some older people refer to coloured people for blacks not because they are rude but because that was the words used 50 years ago. Now blacks prefer black.

Also most of the children in my sons' classes are English so even if someone had parents from Eastern Asia their children are British as British as mine who have 4 English born grandparents.

( I have no problems being called white with brown spots by the way)

Mominatrix Sun 04-Nov-12 09:11:41

Of course, kerrygrey. But it is not an occasional thing here - anyone with almond eyes and black hair is called Chinese - it is sloppy and lazy at best. Here, it is not a case of mistaken identity - just an unwillingness to realise that there are more than one Oriental ethnicity, and that there are clear differences. I grew up in America and it certainly was more enlightened than here about the different nationalities and ethnicities in Asia due the larger numbers of them.

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 09:13:23

With boarding however surely they are right to tell you if they want a certain kind of boy as you need someone robust enough to cope with the rejection by those whom you love which boarding school involves.

Really? Xenia usually I find your posts interesting and informed, however the ignorance of this comment truly astounds me.

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 09:16:24

But I don't think it's any different from someone identifying someone else as white. I do think we know there are differences. We have a huge history here of our grandparents being dreadfully treated by the Japanese in WWII. No way do we confuse the Japanese and Chinese although I personally am not sure how you can tell on looks the difference but am happy to be enlightened. My children or some of them are very into South Korea because of computer games. I think we do know some differences. I suspect we are a lot better than most Americans are about knowing their international geography.

how to change words used... well we moved from coloured to black so that must have been an education campaign by the Government. We moved from mongol to down's in the 1970s too. Neither was used offensively -it was just what was the trend at the time. We moved from Eskimo to innuit although that isn ot universally changed. Apparently some native Americans still prefer red indian. I think it is just a matter of being told what people prefer us to use and then ensuring the nation moves to the terminology that group prefers.

mignonette Sun 04-Nov-12 09:18:59

This board is hysterical - like watching a group of pigs calling each other pink and fat....wink

rabbitstew Sun 04-Nov-12 09:20:25

Then I suspect you'll offend those whose ethnicity is Central Asian, or Southern Asian, etc ... Just because it wouldn't offend you to be described as ethnically Eastern Asian, Mominatrix, it doesn't mean there wouldn't be plenty of people from other parts of Asia who wouldn't take offence at being described as Eastern Asian... it's not as if there is a very clear dividing line between different racial characteristics anywhere in the world, or any parts of the world that haven't hated the countries around them in the near and distant past. It's not as if people from different continents haven't bred with each other... resulting in the chance for pretty much anyone to find however they are described as offensive in some way.

It has never offended me when people have asked whether I'm Australian, or Irish. It has never offended me that nobody would pick up any of my non-European heritage. I wouldn't be offended is someone thought I was Polish or German, or French - even though we have a long history of difficult relationships with the countries around us (and pretty much everywhere else in the world...). Why find that offensive? It's only offensive if it's meant to be offensive.

seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 09:44:19

No, collager, but do notice if a poster who has repeatedly expressed a very controversial and incredibly hurtful point of view suddenly changes their tune.

And I remember what you posted because it was so very extreme. And likely to worry and upset lots of people. I'm glad you've changed your mind.

rabbitstew Sun 04-Nov-12 09:47:19

bisjo - has it never crossed your mind that you find Xenia interesting and informed when you agree with her, and ignorant when you don't?

rabbitstew Sun 04-Nov-12 09:49:14

(ps apologies for the earlier double negative!).

tiredemma Sun 04-Nov-12 09:52:11

'teach him to be entitled'-

I got this far and attempted to claw my own eyes out.

what a place.

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 09:59:22

rabbit I don't always agree with Xenia when I think her posts are interesting and informed, quite often I don't. Just because someone is informed in what they say doesn't mean I agree with them, not at all. However her post about boarding school is very ill informed and gratitiously insulting.

teacherwith2kids Sun 04-Nov-12 10:18:23


Interestingly, I find most of Xenia's posts ill-informed and gratuitously insulting.

This is perhaps a function of point of view and personal knowledge:
- As a state school teacher and state school parent, I find Xenia's comments about state schools ill-informed and gratuitously insulting.

- As a private school parent, you find Xenia's comments about state schools well-informed.

- As a boarding school parent, you find Xenia's comments about boarding schools ill-informed.

Therefore we both find Xenia ill-informed about subjects we know something about, but you find her well-informed in an area where you know less... interesting!

rabbitstew Sun 04-Nov-12 10:19:20

OK, fair enough, bisjo!

rabbitstew Sun 04-Nov-12 10:21:43

I find even Xenia's carefully reasoned posts randomly let slip some gratuitously offensive remark somewhere towards the middle or end - almost like some kind of tourettic OCD.

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 10:26:14

rabbit true, I hadn't thought of that! I'm probably more sensitive at the moment re boarding as ds has started this term doing three nights boarding a week having changed schools. I know there are lots of judgey comments from parents at his old school (none to my face).

He is absolutely loving it and doesn't feel rejected at all. I'm the one telling him he can't board for more days at the moment. I don't think boarding school is for all but for the ones, like ds who are good at making friends and confident it can be a fab environment.

seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 10:43:06

"I find even Xenia's carefully reasoned posts randomly let slip some gratuitously offensive remark somewhere towards the middle or end - almost like some kind of tourettic OCD."


And there's usually something deeply stupid as well. It's very odd.

kerrygrey Sun 04-Nov-12 11:08:53

mignonette - A pig might be very offended to be called pink if she was a Tamworth or a Gloucester Old Spot!
And be careful, there are lovely people on MN who will hate you for saying we're pigs...

mignonette Sun 04-Nov-12 11:31:34

It was an analogy of sorts wink... Of course I do not think that Mners are four legged, have curly tails etc etc.....Pigs are lovely animals BTW.

I cannot help it if some folk display concrete thinking....

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 11:36:21

bisjo, it's just my view. My family have had a lot of psychiatric patients terribly scared by boarding school and not just those sent away at 6 or 7, older ones too. Even Nigella Lawson in today's papers who is my age writes that her father sent her away having asked her if she wanted to go , she said no, he said -good you are going. That didn't work out and she ended up at a London day school. It is definitely so that many chidlren are psychologically damaged by it but not all. Is that a risk parents want to take when instead they could put themselves second and move near a good day school many of which have better results than most boarding schools?

Is your influence so bad that you want your chidl removed from it from much of the year and to develop a remoteness of connection?

I have not invented that there is a Boarding School Survivor's Association.

I do not say all children cannot board and mine could board if they want to.

ReallyTired Sun 04-Nov-12 11:50:03

bisjo's son is going to boarding school because that is the only way he can persue his chorister ambitions. My son sings at a local parish church and dearly wishes that he could audition for cathedral school even if that means he was boarding. Sadly he is too old. At the age of ten he is in a far better position to make a decision on boarding than a seven year old would be.

Xenia, I think that boarding school is less damaging when children can see clear reasons for it. For example if a child is profoundly deaf they maybe forced to be weekly boarders to get a suitable education. There are not many schools that cater for deaf children with learning difficulties or deaf children who are acadenically gifted or those who want instruction in British Sign language.

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 11:55:14

It depends on why you go to boarding school. If your parents move around a lot it can be the best option. My friend was psychologically damaged by changing schools every 2 years.

VernonSmith Sun 04-Nov-12 12:10:39

This is so bizarre. We went to look at Eton with DS (who would need a scholarship and bursary to go there - which we made clear; he has a prep school bursary at the moment).

We didn't go on an official tour; we were shown round by a current pupil, the son of a friend. We also met several members of staff and were given a tour of the houses/library/concert halls etc by a dame (housemistress).

Every single person we met there was kind, thoughtful and concerned. The staff and boys whom we observed in passing treated one another with courtesy and respect. The housemistress was exemplary.

I had expected not to like it (I imagined it being much more palatial and snooty), but DH, DS and I all absolutely loved it.

We have been in email contact with the school several times since; they are warm and welcoming, and have answered all our questions quickly and honestly. DS will be applying for a scholarship - it's the only school he wants to go to now he's looked around, so we are hoping that he is lucky enough to get one.

Above all, we are reassured that he will be treated kindly and that the communication between school and home is good (we live a very long way from Windsor, so this is very important).

I don't recognise anything that the OP says. She even appears to have met a different admissions tutor.

As for the parents: there are lovely parents and complete fruitcakes at all schools, OP. Surely you know that?

teacherwith2kids Sun 04-Nov-12 12:17:19

Also, you have to remember that these were not ACTUAL Eton parents - they were parents of children who were looking round the school. It seems very odd to discount a school because of the other parents looking round - after all, NONE of those parents might end up having pupils at the school at all. Surely the only parents that one might worry about would be the parents of children actually attending the school??

dapplegrey Sun 04-Nov-12 12:18:31

Very best of luck to your ds, VernonSmith.

more worser ??? tut.

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 12:34:30

"My family have had a lot of psychiatric patients terribly scared by boarding school and not just those sent away at 6 or 7, older ones too.... It is definitely so that many chidlren are psychologically damaged"
Xenia it is time to move boarding has changed sigmnifcantly since Nigella Lawson went and as you have clearly stated that none of yours went to baording school restrain yourself from commeting about something you clearly know nothing about.

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 12:36:03

Crap proof reading again trying to say move on boarding has changed etc etc.
Oh and need spelling lessons to boarding not baording!

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 12:43:24

My assessment was the boy was Chinese. He was not, in my opinion, ethnically Korean, Japanese, Thai, etc.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Sun 04-Nov-12 12:48:15


seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 12:51:51

There is a difference between boarding because it is "what our family do" -(my very unhappy godson is the victim of this one) and boarding because it is the best option for the child concerned. Note child concerned. And that does not mean it should be the child's choice.

And, although boarding can be a fantastic experience, I have never met a boarder who wasn't a little more detached from his or her family than I like. Some people think this extra independence is a good thing. I personally don't especially for younger ones.

Colleger Sun 04-Nov-12 12:52:52

Seeker, I have not changed my tune.mim wondering where in the comment about Eton boys not being all the same implies that I don't think there wings are clipped. A lesson in English methinks...

Oh, and leave me alone. It's embarrassing...

Colleger Sun 04-Nov-12 12:53:47

I'm not mim

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 13:19:56

"I have never met a boarder who wasn't a little more detached from his or her family than I like."
Seeker you haven't met my DS who is quite clearly not "more detached from his family" than you or anyone else for that matter would like and neither are many of his boarding friends in fact most strangers frequently comment on what a close family we are and from observing as a friend but also in a professional capacity other families with children who board I would say the same thing. I work with nearly 1500 children at indepednet boarding schools and also day schools; there of course homesick children in boarding scholols and probably a handful who are detached (although there are usually other reasons for this) but in my expereince most are very much devoted to their faimilies. There also some equally miserable and detached children in day schools (both state and independnent) many who find their parents exceedingly stifling.

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 13:27:27

I have noticed that detachment and I suppose that is what I have sought to avoid. I have never said no child should board however. I am not hugely against it. I just think you often pay for worse exam results and to damage a child. Massive risk. I suppose you avoid having them under your feet in the teenage years but then they come under the influence more of their peers and that is not always a good thing.

I really don't think that the warmer duvets these days and lack of beatings changes the fundamental issues. Schools like Eton do not even let you come home every weekend and if a parent can visit it is at a distance to watch a match and what child will cry or expose its worst self or shout in an environment in front of its peers? Many children say they are fine because they know that is what their parent wants to hear. They often are not fine. I often speak to boarders. They use terms like I survived. I managed. It toughened me up. I coped. My friends became close as family. Those are terms which to me smack of psychological disturbance.

Anyway if you love a child surely want it around with you to chat in the evenings?

IndridCold Sun 04-Nov-12 13:29:23

Leave it happygardening, she ain't worf it!! grin

VernonSmith Our experience of Eton is very much as you describe it, and I too was a bit hmm at Joanbias's description, in one of her posts, of Charles Milne (the Admissions Tutor) as 'scary'.

I too wish your DS the very best of luck.

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 13:33:53

"Schools like Eton ... if a parent can visit it is at a distance to watch a match"
Xenia as anyone with a child at boarding school would agree you are very ably demonstrating how little you know about boarding even at the likes of Eton.
I know I know Indrid I shouldnt rise to it but it just drives me mad when people who clearly know absolutely nothing about boarding write such crap!

panicnotanymore Sun 04-Nov-12 13:39:14

I have never and will never have any contact with Eton, but that aside I would wonder if the OP has either. All seems a little odd.....

rabbitstew Sun 04-Nov-12 13:46:43

But Xenia writes an equal amount of crap about state schools, of which she also has no direct experience. It's funny how Xenia is on the lookout for children scarred by boarding school, even those who don't think they were scarred in any way, but makes no effort to look for signs of babies scarred by their mothers going back out to work straight away and leaving nannies to scrub their bottoms grin.

rabbitstew Sun 04-Nov-12 13:47:32

(the babies' bottoms, that is, unless the mothers have developed strange fetishes from their own babyhood...).

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 04-Nov-12 13:56:36

This is the funniest thread!!

I particularly liked the pink fat pigs analogy wink

PosieParker Sun 04-Nov-12 14:00:15

Yuck Eton, if the current government are anything to go by it's a vile camp of overtly entitled twits.

PosieParker Sun 04-Nov-12 14:02:41

All of my friends that were sent away to school have huge gaps in their bonding, especially during their teens when you can 'lose' your child even if they're living with you.

Why would anyone want to send their kids away? Seriously.

teacherwith2kids Sun 04-Nov-12 14:15:37

"I shouldnt rise to it but it just drives me mad when people who clearly know absolutely nothing about boarding write such crap!"

Welcome to our world - replace 'boarding' with 'state schools' and you will understand how many of us feel every time Xenia posts on a state vs private schools debate!

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 04-Nov-12 14:18:30

I find it best to just assume that Xenia is trying to be funny!

Narked Sun 04-Nov-12 14:18:56

Every child should have the opportunity of a daily hug with someone who isn't paid to do it.

seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 14:19:39

Happy gardening- I am just talking from my own experience.

rabbitstew Sun 04-Nov-12 14:28:15

In my own VAST experience, life isn't perfect, so there is no perfect solution when it comes to the upbringing and education of our children. Even the wealthiest, most privileged people can't buy their way out of that conundrum, albeit that some of them may think they can. And for a fiver, I'll read your palm, too. And look at a few tea leaves, before I pronounce that there are difficult times ahead.

Colleger Sun 04-Nov-12 15:26:13

My boarding son is very closed off but he always was. My other son who boarded up until June is the very opposite. I'd say it is more to do with personalities, position in the family, parents personalities etc. In saying all that, I wish I'd never gone down the boarding route but it is what it is now and boarding son doesn't want to leave.

wordfactory Sun 04-Nov-12 15:33:41

One thing I notice about the Eton parents is that there is precious little objective analysis of the school.

Common sense tells me that there are pros and cons at every school. Yet, Eton projects itself as perfect and very much gives the message that if you don't like a certain aspect of it, there's no room for discussion. Parents seem to buy into this wholesale, becoming almost obsessional about it.

I haven't noticed this quite so much at other schools.

seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 15:38:11

Eton and Steiner, word factory- very similar mindsets! I've noticed that too.

Colleger Sun 04-Nov-12 15:47:36

I don't think Eton is perfect...

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 16:00:44

This is the funniest thread!!

I keep saying so-one of the funniest I have seen-if anyone wants to send up MN it is a gift! grin

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 16:20:29

seeker unless you either been winding everybody up and are not really sending your DC's to state schools, or you've finally resigned yourself to the fact that youre DS's school is crap and recently moved him to a boarding then your experience of boarding does not relate to your own children so I doubt you are in as an informed position to comment it as the parents on MN whose children are boarding.
rabbit and Talkin I'm one of those dreadful mothers that Xenia is so quick to condemn who decided to stay at home with my children until they were 7 and not even send them to nursery but keep them at home with me till reception and "sacrifice" my career. Perhaps that is why we are such a strong family and why my children are neither distant from me or dysfunctional sociopaths incapable or forming relationships with others.

rabbitstew Sun 04-Nov-12 16:36:33

But exoticfruits - it's the fact it can be so funny that makes mumsnet so addictive. If mumsnet were merely full of worthy parents trying to help each other, it would be so incredibly dull. Things that are dull are not worth sending up - only things of interest are worth sending up...

seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 16:40:35

Happygqrdening- I do have friends with children, god children, my children have friends (I don't forbid them from associating with non- state school children!)

PosieParker Sun 04-Nov-12 16:52:47

Eeeeewwww. Are we saying that people who loathe boarding schools and would rather stick pins in their eyes than not live with their own children are not allowed to have an opinion on boarding schools????

How very unMN.

PosieParker Sun 04-Nov-12 16:54:18

I do wonder how, if one loves and enjoys their children, they could pack them off to boarding school.

teacherwith2kids Sun 04-Nov-12 17:05:33


I was sent to boarding school - because, as a poster further back in the thread said "boarding school is less damaging when children can see clear reasons for it. "

When I was secondary school age, the only state option available to me was the local ex-secondary modern. Although, with hindsight, this was capable of providing a suitable education for exceptionally bright children (both my brothers went there, and as I have said before on MN, we all ended up in Oxbridge and got great degrees) that was not clear in advance (just as an indication, there were 24 - in total, from over 60 children - O-level passes from the year above mine).

There were no private schools in non-boarding distance that offered 100% scholarships, which was what was needed for me to attend. Moving was not a financially viable option.

So I boarded. I am, as it happens, very close to my parents BUT I agree that it is again not possible to predict this in advance and so sending me to board was both an opportunity and a risk. I know that my parents hated living without me - but as with many things in life it was a balance of risks and a balance of pain.

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 17:08:51

Parents move though to be near good schools lal the time rather than send children away.

It is not funny that countless children have been psychologically damaged by boarding school. It is not something I invented today. It is not a joke. Obviously as I said many do fine there too. I am being pretty neutral on the subject.

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 17:09:40

..and Eton is a very good school. There are a lot of boarding schools which cannot fill spaces or have to take girls or pack places full of people from abroad to such an extent the school changes or which get bad exam results. Eton isn't like that. It's one of the better ones.

Pagwatch Sun 04-Nov-12 17:16:10

But Wordfactory is it that there is no objective analysis, or is it that rarely do any set of parents have to deal with more gleeful sanctemonious and universal criticism than Eton parents.
Eton the school and Eton the byword for self interested elitism are two different things. If I were a parent I would probably be pretty defensive.

Ds1 played rugby against Eton often. He liked the school, the staff and the pupils. He would have liked to go there I think but we couldn't have afforded it. He has a fairly sensible attitude to life

Pagwatch Sun 04-Nov-12 17:18:28

And fwiw I think a 'humorous' thread taking cheap shots at Eton is shooting fish in a barrel isn't it? Laughing at the dim witted, ditto.
I am not exactly charmed.

VernonSmith Sun 04-Nov-12 17:22:14

dapplegrey and Indridcold - thanks very much. smile

I'd have said the last thing CM was was 'scary'!

Posie, I wondered that too (I am a SAHM, and mine never went near childcare; they didn't even start school until Y1). But while it's relatively easy to go with your own principles when they are small, it becomes harder once they are older and have their own opinions and their own particular needs. Only one of mine is even countenancing boarding, and there are very good reasons why he is doing so. If he can get his scholarship and bursary, I will be delighted for him. I have my own reservations about boarding generally, but I still think that being open minded about my particular children, their particular needs, and the needs of our family as a whole is more important than closing off one particular avenue on principle.

amillionyears Sun 04-Nov-12 17:57:09

How often are those children at boarding school allowed to come home, or have parental visits?
I agree with Xenia, in that if you do not have prolonged periods of parental or I suppose guardian involvement with your children, then they are not going to willingly open up emotionally. And that can lead to problems.
I can only think of one child that I have ever met, who may have been ok at boarding scholl for prolonged periods of time.
She was always 5 years old, going on 10.

amillionyears Sun 04-Nov-12 18:04:39

Perhaps someone could help the op with a short list of private schools which might suit her DS?

IndridCold Sun 04-Nov-12 18:13:36

Why do you assume that the almost universal praise of the school by Eton parents means that they are not analysing the school objectively? I would imagine that not many of them believe that the school is perfect (particularly those fathers who are OEs themselves) but we do know whether or not our DS's are thriving and happy there and have the opportunity to experience an extraordinary range of activities, in spite of the fact that they are working hard, a lot is expected of them and they are not living at home for weeks at a time.

Teenagers are programmed to rebel against the adult authority around them, whether it be parents or a boarding school. You wouldn't necessarily judge a parent because their teenage DS is shouting 'I hate you, you want to ruin my life', and I don't think you can necessarily make an equivalent judgement about boarding schools.

As to why you would send your child away, I think that has been covered in other pro/anti threads.

wordfactory Sun 04-Nov-12 18:23:41

amillion boarding schools have many faces these days.

There are schools which offer flexi boarding, such as my DD's school. You can board as little as two nights per week, depending on what might suit. DD currently stays over one night whilst she is rehearsing for a school play. Rehearsals don't finish until 8.30pm and she wouldn't get home much before 9.15pm, so it suits her to board that night.
Similarly she will stay over this coming Friday as she has to catch a bus at school at 6.30am on Saturday for a sporting fixture (in Wales!!!).

Some schools weekly board and the DC generally come home after sport on Saturday and return for chapel on Sunday evening (though some allow DC to slip in on Monday mornings).

Other schools, very few these days, and Eton is one, are termly boarding or full boarding. Basically you are not allowed home in term time aside from exeat weekends which are around one or two per half term.

amillionyears Sun 04-Nov-12 18:25:55

"I hate you, you want to ruin my life".

I would take that seriously whereever the child is being schooled.
And look into it.

PosieParker Sun 04-Nov-12 18:27:46

Indrid. I was speaking of adults reflecting upon their teens not teens themselves.

themottledlizard Sun 04-Nov-12 18:29:10

I am fascinated by the old Etonians on Made In Chelsea smile They seem a bit simple to me, although obvs very rich.....not terribly bright though. Do they take a special test to get in like Prince Harry?

They do indeed come accross as very intellectually challenged, not a good advert for Eton.

amillionyears Sun 04-Nov-12 18:34:44

flexi boarding strikes me as being on a par with sleepovers.
Weekly boarding, I would have thought is ok for some.
Termly or full boarding I would have thought would be potentially much more problematic in some cases.
I think of it in terms as being with friends and others by day and night for weeks. I dont think many adults would cope with that particularly well.

dapplegrey Sun 04-Nov-12 18:34:46

Iirc apart from exeats the boys could come out for the day on Sunday.

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 18:52:30

All those criticising boarding I wonder how much time you actually spend with your teenagers? When I was a teenager the last people I wanted to spend any time with were my parents other than meal times and lifts to my friends.

I guess that makes me unusual in wanting to have a level of independence whilst being a teenager. I am very old so was a teenager in the late 70s early 80s. Maybe it is different these days and teenagers willingly spend all their free time with their parents?

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 18:53:01

Ok seeker Xenia I give in and bow you your obviously superior knowledge about boarding. I know i claim to love my DS but the reality is that I couldn't care less about him and choose to work 50+ hours a week and my DH 60-70 hours a week to send my DS to school which he hates although too afraid to tell us for fear of upsetting us. And when he was offered a day place at either one of the country's top performing grammar schools, a local top performing comp or flexi boarding at St Paul's having masochistic tendencies developed at his boarding prep and also having beem brain washed by his prep and parents to think that boarding is the only way he choose full boarding. And although my DS appears on the surface of things to be not only happy loving family orientated child (as frequently commented on by others) but happy at school and academically doing really well, because we all know that unhappy children will always do really well in reality hes miserable and would get much better exam results at a day school although as the A** has not yet been invented by our marvelous goverment I fail to see how. Oh I nearly forget about the many many activities that he participates in just to take his mind of his misery (but of course not as many as his contempories in day schools are offered particularly the state sector) or the fact that he's never been healthier since hes been at Winchester (not my opinion by the way but the paediatrician who looks after him but what would he know) and it's widely acknowledged among health care professionals that being unhappy is so good for you health. I also have many friends with children who board who are also very good actors and they too have managed to fool me and their parents and again outsiders into thinking that they are happy family orientated children. And finally the last Oscar for best supporting role goes to the parents and children of the boarding schools I'm involved with in a professional capacity where despite God knows how many years of experience when regularly assessing amongst other things the mental health of children in boarding schools I am not able to recognise detached unhappy dyfunctional sociopaths!
Let not forget Xenias solution that my DH leaves the virtually unique niche job working for a not based in a city based company and we all move to an equally selective day school of which according to the much quoted FT league tables there are only 8 and I think bar 1 all in London (I certainly have no intention of moving to Essex) and my DH either instantly gets another job because we all know that jobs grow on trees in 2012 or he could retrain and I'm sure would be able to do it in time to afford the day fees or the best option of all commute for three hours every night or 4 1/2 if it was Essex every day because then he would be home every night in time to give my DS that essential daily hug because after all that is the only way our children are able to be absolutely sure we love them.
Sorry Indrid rose to it again!

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 18:59:55

I haven't said that Eton is other than fantastic. Just not what I am looking for.

My son is v. bright, but he is not good at answering 'So why do you think you want to go Eton'-type questions.

There are many schools that would take him. But many of these are sort of 'nice but dim' schools.

I thought Xenia's quote was amusing:

"Yes, there are thick mothers around. Plenty of men marry women because of the size of their breasts and because she is blonde and 20 years younger than he is and then he's surprised the child is as thick as a plank and ends up at Millfield. You reap what you sow and I suppose where you choose to sow it. May be the sex and ego boosting makes it worthwhile."

My Grandma insists that intelligence runs in the family. She says all her brothers were very clever but her mother didn't have enough money to send them to school. One of her sons went to Oxford. Did kill himself later in life though. My sister and I both went to Cambridge.

I've never heard of Millfield, but if it's nice but dim, we're not interested.

Several of DS' teachers have told us that he's the brightest boy in the class, BUT because he has an ASD he can struggle to gather his thoughts and express himself.

I think his history teacher said 'any school should be happy to have him, he'll do Physics, Maths and Further Maths at A Level and get A*s', yes true, but the ones that go on about their 93% A*/A at GCSE might be a bit hmm if they think he is unlikely to get A*'s in English or whatever.

Tricky business really.

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 19:04:11

Joan I keep asking but I suppose my question gets lost, hasn't your prep HM made recommendations of senior schools? I'd be really surprised if he/she hasn't.

seeker Sun 04-Nov-12 19:07:14

Oh, don't be silly, happy gardener! People are allowed to share their experiences too, you know! I'm sure your ds is as happy as a sandboy, whatever one of them is. But it doesn't mean everybody is. My godson, who is at W******* because that's where the boys in his family have gone since God was a boy is as miserable as sin. That doesn't mean all the other boys are- ay more than your ds being happy means that everyone else is.

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 19:07:59

bisjo, we have had recommendations. One of which was wildly inappropriate. One of which I am going to visit next week, and another in 2-3 weeks.

That's not to say his recommendations are the best.

For instance they are not going to recommend schools 50 miles away, since DD is also at the school, and if we moved, we would obviously withdraw her.

Millfield is not 'dim' Gods sake!

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 19:10:37

If you are looking at boarding school then 50 miles wouldn't be a problem. I think happygardening's advice on distance is good - look at schools that are up to 1.5 hours away at the most so you can play a part in school life by attending school matches, concerts etc.

What other schools are you considering?

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 19:17:44

But exoticfruits - it's the fact it can be so funny that makes mumsnet so addictive. If mumsnet were merely full of worthy parents trying to help each other, it would be so incredibly dull. Things that are dull are not worth sending up - only things of interest are worth sending up...

I wasn't saying that they should stop! It is indeed the sort of thread that makes me come back after I have vowed to stop wasting time and give it up.

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 19:21:01

JoanB, yes I think it was one of my better set of lines... laughing as I type. I wouldn't worry if your son won't get A* in everything. My children have all so far been pretty laid back and it doesn't seem to be hindering careers of the older ones who have all graduated now. Daughter 1 (Habs girls) was in the 5th of 5 sets of maths GCSEs and still got an A. I cannot remember if the A* had come out by then or not.

I suppose the way round my example is buy a US ivy league graduate's eggs, implant them in an Indian surrogate and then have your large chested blonde bimbo at your side but without passing on her genes and ensuring there are others around to talk to the child who are bright.

hg, I have said loads of times on the thread that a lot of chidlren are happy boarding and do fine. If you really feel sure your son is happy why does it bother you if I simply state the fact that it doesn't work for a good few children and some pretend they like it when they don't. It doesn't bother me if people say I shouldn't work or my children should be in state schools. I just know they are wrong for my children.

Of course Millfield is for the slightly dim Only 646 but some added value if you like that kind of atmosphere and apparently big swimming pools.

Eton 17th (and often top 5) and yes Prince Harry did get in but it is certainly not packed with thick boys by any means.

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 19:26:05

I would have thought that the parents with DSs at Eton can just sit back and know they are the best -they don't need to agonise over positions in the league table. I was very impressed on the general tour that I did. It isn't a school that would suit my DSs, so even if I had the money I wouldn't have considered it.

It is a funny thread isn't it grin I love being a thicko...with just the two degrees.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 04-Nov-12 19:41:19

My advice to others on here is to not allow yourself be wound up by throw away and genrally ignorant comments made by some on this thread. they just ain't worth it!!

however, it is fantastic a fantastic read grin

amillionyears Sun 04-Nov-12 19:47:12

Are the tours for Eton just for making money?
Or is that a stupid question? grin

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 20:14:05

It is just like visiting a NT property or similar. There is so much history there. It was fascinating- it was only when they were on holiday.

PosieParker Sun 04-Nov-12 20:15:24

Millfield is dim. I grew up in Street.

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 20:15:42

Is it surprising that Im being 'silly" when I have to read endless guff like this from the likes of Seeker Xenia et al :
My family have had a lot of psychiatric patients terribly scared by boarding school and not just those sent away at 6 or 7, older ones too. Even Nigella Lawson in today's papers who is my age writes that her father sent her away having asked her if she wanted to go ,
Is your influence so bad that you want your chidl removed from it from much of the year and to develop a remoteness of connection?
I have not invented that there is a Boarding School Survivor's AssociationI I have never met a boarder who wasn't a little more detached from his or her family than I like.
All of my friends that were sent away to school have huge gaps in their bonding,
Every child should have the opportunity of a daily hug with someone who isn't paid to do!
It is not funny that countless children have been psychologically damaged by boarding school.
I can only think of one child that I have ever met, who may have been ok at boarding scholl for prolonged periods of time.
And the icing on the cake from Xenia; I am being pretty neutral on the subject. hmm
Seeker Im very sorry if your God son is unhappy at W***** Im not sure if that Winchester, Wellington ( a few hours in the presence of that positively ghastly Anthony Seddon is enough to make even Mary Poppins unhappy) or Wellesely (maybe if its Kent its the later) but here's a revolutionary thought maybe its the school not boarding. My DS was very unhappy at his so called outstanding state day primary schools. Im not pretending boarding is the answer for all and there are some crap schools out there but will not accept that in the 21st century that boarding at schools like Eton and Im not its greatest fan or any of the other reputable schools are full of unhappy children.

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 20:17:35

Are the tours for Eton just for making money as far as Im aware the tours are free at least we didn't pay and we went during the term time.

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 20:21:19

The facts are a good few chidlren are fine at boarding school. Others are damages and on results they speak for themselves - Eton top 20 if not top 5 and Millfield may be add a lot of value to intellectually challenged children but they only drag themselves up to about 650th in the country in league tables but pretty good at swimming.

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 20:22:56

I think that we are talking at cross purposes- I wasn't a prospective parent. In the holidays you can just buy a ticket and go on a tour. You are shown around by a volunteer who knows the school well.

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 20:23:45

It is a way of making money.

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 20:24:12

You d

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 20:25:23

You don't pay to visit if you are a prospective parent/pupil.

exoticfruits Sun 04-Nov-12 20:30:44

You wouldn't - it is completely different.

There was an interesting article in Sunday Times saying that schools should be educating the whole child, not instructing them for tests. I would say that Eton does that, which is why they don't have to measure their worth by league tables.

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 20:30:47

"Others are damages and on results they speak for themselves"
I have no idea what you do for a living Xenia but I do know your not in my profession because even if I hadn't taken time out of work to be a SAHM I would not be on £100 000+ a year. I have worked with children who are actually know what it means to be "damaged" and it is insulting to them to describe children who've boarded as "damaged."

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 04-Nov-12 20:40:37

Seriously Happy, don't get wound up. As one who has been there and realised that Xenia has her views and won't be changing them for any amount of evidence you bring to the discussion.

happygardening Sun 04-Nov-12 20:57:44

Shipwrecked you're right normally I can let Xenia's completely ridiculous comments wash over me!
We've just received a flood warning from the environment agency so far more important things too worry about.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 04-Nov-12 21:02:57


Good luck with the rising water!

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 21:03:57

A Xenia flood warning?


JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 21:05:53

And it did seem that Eton were about educating the whole child. I don't think they even bothered to discuss such trivia as academic lessons.

themottledlizard Sun 04-Nov-12 21:07:05

Happygardening: Xenia is just as ghastly and exasperating about state schools and I have had many a run in with her (under another name). Really, don't take any notice.As you say, flood warnings much more important.

( BTW My older DCs went to the same universities as Xenia's offspring, she has named them on many a thread about private v state, so no secret, and it's not Oxbridge... if that makes you feel any better, I know it shouldn't

I have just wasted spent the last fifteen minutes googling Xenia on mumsnet. Such a laugh grin

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 21:09:12

(not sure why Millfield is being picked on particularly btw. There are tonnes of school for the affluent (or effluent?) but dim, and as I have alluded to in this thread, the idea that simply because your (thick) DC has ended up with 5 Cs after 12 years/£300k worth of education, whereas someone else's (bright) DC got 10A*s at the local comp, doesn't tell the full story.

googling 'Xenia on Mumsnet' I mean.

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 21:11:49

BTW I don't think you can get value-added scores for independent schools.

Also don't the FT rankings look at A-Level and equivalent, which is not necessarily the same set of pupils as at GCSE?

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 21:15:17

Some say she never blinks, and that she roams around the woods at night foraging for wolves. All we know is she’s called the Stig Xenia.

Some say she naturally faces magnetic north, and all her legs are hydraulic. All we know is she’s called the Stig. Xenia.

Some say she can swim 7 lengths underwater, and she has webbed buttocks. All we know is she’s called the Stig. Xenia.

Some say she is a construct of MNHQ, trolling for hits. All we know is she's called Xenia.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 04-Nov-12 21:16:55


ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 04-Nov-12 21:17:14

grin, even!!

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 21:18:59

too much [gin] Shipwrecked?

amillionyears Sun 04-Nov-12 21:19:08

happygardening, one of my DSs makes flood maps. Take care.

Greythorne Sun 04-Nov-12 21:47:39

Serious question: the parents (colleger, peteneras, ingrid...) who really know Eton, what would you say are the downsides of Eton?

Xenia Sun 04-Nov-12 21:50:54

I don't hvae webbed buttocks I'm afraid although I think they are reasonable ones as I cycle and swim most days. I can do the lotus position and I have perfect pitch which is a genetic fluke and in fact a nuisance when you sight sing.

I doubt there are many downsides to Eton if you believe in single sex and boarding schools and your son is bright and happy to board,.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sun 04-Nov-12 21:58:13

Boarding children would never be for me, but I'm sure xenia's comments about it are as infuriating to those who like it as her comments about state schools/staying at home when your children are little are to those who do those things. At least it gives some of the rest of us one small thing in common.

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 21:59:56


Mumsnet has a surfeit of Eton threads.

My buttocks cycled 12 miles today. Not swum for a week though. Perhaps I can do a few laps in Xenia's pool.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Sun 04-Nov-12 22:04:51

My image of what Xenia might look like in RL has changed just a little bit tonight... wink

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 22:10:08
difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 22:18:23

Why all these personal insults? Not very nice. I like the fact that MN is full of opinionated people who like to share their opinions, even if I don't always agree with them. However personal insults because someone has a different opinion to you is pretty poor.

Joan rather than insulting other posters you should be concentrating on your school search and wondering why you are paying fees for a school that is unable or unwilling to recommend suitable senior schools for your ds.

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 22:24:59

I will stop paying the fees forthwith.

thanks, bisjo.

teacherwith2kids Sun 04-Nov-12 22:27:39

[Mutters darkly about resemblance between linked costume and self, due to heriditary growth pattern of grey / white hair on original dark brown stuff. Couldn't walk in those heels, though!]

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 22:28:46

Maybe it is normal to get all the way through to year 6 and discover that the school has made no effort to get to know your child? I just find that very odd. Particularly as I doubt the school fees are cheap. Choosing a senior school is a huge step and not having any guidance, or worse guidance that is so wrong, must be incredibly frustrating and upsetting. At least I would be frustrated and upset if the same happened to me.

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 22:34:49


The school has given us guidance.

It's just that I am not taking it (well I am investigating their recommendations, but I want to be sure there is not something better, elsewhere).

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 22:44:09

You said that the HM gave you a 'wildly inappropriate' recommendation and also said that you didn't think the school would recommend somewhere 50 miles away in case you moved. Doesn't sound like very helpful guidance to me.

If they were being helpful then you wouldn't have wasted your time visiting a school you clearly cannot stand and weren't bothered about finding out what SEN provision it had.

dapplegrey Sun 04-Nov-12 23:00:53

Greythorne - my son was very happy during his time at Eton, he made lots of friends, enjoyed the extra curricular activities and did well enough in his exams to go to the university that he wanted. His housemaster and tutor took a lot of trouble and the one time he needed medical treatment it was swiftly dealt with and excellent.
So as far as I'm concerned there were no downsides ( though he did say the food could have been better).

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 23:02:25

Ok, bisjo, I've cancelled the d/d.

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 23:03:23

btw, the food didn't seem terribly impressive from what I saw of the dining hall at Eton. Ok. Not outstanding though.

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 23:04:34

Joan really sorry I hit a raw nerve. Good luck with the school search. I would hate to have to go through all of that without the school's help and support, it is hard enough as it is.

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 23:07:01

It's hardly a raw nerve. I spent an hour or so with the Head and he said ds is v. bright, but find him a 'nice' school, here's the schools I recommend. These were all day schools.

I also spent two hours with the SENCO on the same subject, she recommended one of the same schools as the Head.

I'm not necessarily sure that a prep school should know about all the day schools in the coutry.

difficultpickle Sun 04-Nov-12 23:13:29

Not very impressive that the HM and SENCO hadn't consulted on school choice. I assume that day schools were recommended as that what you had asked for. If you had asked for boarding and they didn't bother to consider your request then it gets even worse!

JoanBias Sun 04-Nov-12 23:22:25

Well obviously a good job I'm looking for a new school, isn't it bisjo.

notanotter Sun 04-Nov-12 23:32:46

my ds is at university with a lot of ex etonians ....he says they 'don't mix'

mathanxiety Mon 05-Nov-12 00:36:16

I never thought I would end up posting something like this, but shock at the rather personal posts aimed in Xenia's direction.

Given that your DS has a SEN I am surprised you did not just talk with the SENCO. Maybe I am wrong to think a HT would be less well informed on the secondary school needs of a SEN child but surely the SENCO would be the person in the best position to advise?

Many boarding school products stick together at university. They are essentially like one big happy family, having basically grown up together.

NellyJob Mon 05-Nov-12 00:43:38

well the only ex Etonian I have knowingly met was quite charming and urbane and definitely a 'mixer'....fwiw

Pennybubbly Mon 05-Nov-12 01:19:58

Xenia : But I don't think it's any different from someone identifying someone else as white. I do think we know there are differences. We have a huge history here of our grandparents being dreadfully treated by the Japanese in WWII. No way do we confuse the Japanese and Chinese although I personally am not sure how you can tell on looks the difference but am happy to be enlightened. My children or some of them are very into South Korea because of computer games. I think we do know some differences. I suspect we are a lot better than most Americans are about knowing their international geography.

Xenia - what on earth is your point here?

Bubblenut Mon 05-Nov-12 01:34:54

Has this post been made by the same pork hating checkout lady?

mathanxiety Mon 05-Nov-12 03:55:43

The point is that there is a wee bit of confusion between what geography is and what culture and ethnicity and identity are (essentially the difference between geography and history to some extent), and there is also the superiority complex wrt Americans -- Americans who are a good deal more sensitive to issues of identity and ethnicity than many Europeans are IME.

BadLad Mon 05-Nov-12 04:48:55

Very interesting to read a thread about my old school

I didn't have an issue with the House Captains board saying '2008: Lord Derby' or whatever below the '2007: JA Smith' etc

Pat yourself on the back for not having an issue with that. None of the boys there have an issue with it either. In my year there was one Lord, two Viscounts and a couple who, despite their youth, were officially known as Mr. Surname. They were all nice, and called by their first names by the other boys, surnames by the beaks (teachers in Eton-speak).

But if your boy is really the brightest star, (and I do mean the brightest star) and had for example, never touched a rugby ball or a football in the past 13 years of his life, there is yet an Eton house specially dedicated to such a boy, rounded or otherwise whereby he selects himself. The house is ‘College’.

Not quite true – while the Kings Scholars do go there, it is actually a very sporting house as well, and some boys who hate sports do go to other houses.


This must be a new development – in my day there were only Housemasters. Are you sure it wasn’t the Dame of a house (matron in Eton-speak)?

E.g., the D&T man said 'So this project was done by our A Level students'. Heels: 'So would this have been done by the oldest children?' I would say that it's a great advert for an expensive education that she scrubbed up so well otherwise really.

In her defence, it could have been done by people in the first year of their A’Leves – C Block – which wouldn’t have been the very oldest.

I don't know what Eton Fives is without looking it up. I put that down to my poor state grammar education.

I didn’t know what it was until the first time I was shown how to play it, apart from a brief description in Roald Dahl’s book about his Repton days.

Teaching them to be entitled

It doesn’t – it is very much hammered home how fortunate the boys are to go there. Whether the lesson is wasted or not is another metter.

Schools like Eton do not even let you come home every weekend and if a parent can visit it is at a distance to watch a match.

The parents could visit anytime, and visit their son in his room if they wish.

One thing I notice about the Eton parents is that there is precious little objective analysis of the school.

This is very true. My parents got annoyed if I said anything less than that I loved the place whenever I was asked if I enjoyed it. Whilst it was fine, it certainly wasn’t preferable to holiday time – most schoolboys find the same.

educating the whole child, not instructing them for tests. I would say that Eton does that

I think I would agree – there are so many other activities you have to try at first, and then have the option of doing later.

Serious question: the parents (colleger, peteneras, ingrid...) who really know Eton, what would you say are the downsides of Eton?

Not everyone is suited to boarding school, very expensive, housemasters not really aware of what was going on in their houses with regards to bullying (don’t know if this is true for other schools), incorrect but enduring perceptions of the place and pupils from people who haven’t been. I might think of others with more time

Parents, by the way, do NOT really know Eton unless they went there.

my ds is at university with a lot of ex etonians ....he says they 'don't mix'

Mix with him or mix with anyone? I can only go for the ones I know, but they don’t have this problem.

recall Mon 05-Nov-12 05:15:56

Bubblenut and the dodgy disturbing toy one...

kerrygrey Mon 05-Nov-12 06:14:10

Well done, Badlad, and thank you for that post.

If we could have something similar from Winchester, Harrow etc etc that would be most useful

Anna1976 Mon 05-Nov-12 07:08:34

just re BadLad's mixing point:

While there are obviously many old Etonians who are not musicians (see below), most of the ones I've met have been driven and dedicated enough to be plausibly concentrating harder on the task at hand than on mixing with people they don't know - i.e. just like most of the well-educated 18 year olds I've ever met; but everyone's heard of Eton, and the confident, open, politely forthcoming manners that are current there do tend to make people highly visible... so I can see where the criticism arises, even though it may not be fair.

Musical example that may translate into other areas of life:

notanotter I've no idea if your son is at uni at the place with the traditionally- highest concentration of old etonians (King's) - them not mixing is a frequent criticism there; but when I was there, it had more to do with most of the highly visible old etonians being choral scholars who spent 99% of their lives in rehearsals, services, concerts or recording sessions or on tour overseas. Also possibly because most of them had been living that particularly busy life since the age of 8 in one or other choral foundation, so didn't see anything unusual in being too busy to mix; or in their choice of secondary school, which made complete sense since that particular musical path doesn't exist in very many places other than Eton or Winchester. The non-musical geeks (who spent similar amounts of time in the lab it has to be said) frequently voiced their resentment of those old etonians who didn't "fit in" because of apparently being Bullingdonesque wannabe superstars (I should know, I was usually in the lab too in those days).... but what I observed was that the choral scholars worked incredibly hard and were mostly exceptionally professional, except for the occasional egotistical jock.

The "pushy parenting" observations from the OP interested me - I would see it as teaching the kids to be adequately prepared for a life that demands clear-headed hard work and competitive advantage of the UCAS-for-10-y-o kind... Kids of course learn differently and at different rates, so can of course completely subvert tiger parenting by failing to perform in front of the parents. How you transmit excellent preparedness while not engendering doormats or rebellions, I have absolutely no idea...

exoticfruits Mon 05-Nov-12 07:16:24

Sounds a very sensible post BadLad.
I would have thought that one of the reasons for sending to Eton was to get them to mix well.
I have always found, in later life, that those who went to boarding school generally mix well and are not remotely bothered (or interested) in which school other people went to.

JugglingWithPossibilities Mon 05-Nov-12 07:29:35

Marking place to read later

< nosey grin >

wordfactory Mon 05-Nov-12 08:19:04

Thank you badlad. For me the issue with parental failure to be objective is that some DC who are not thriving have to remain. The parents have so bought in to the very idea of Eton that they cannot countenence their own DC being less than ecstatcic. The fact that two of the Eton parents on this thread have their nicknames as homage to the school makes me think there is too much invested in it. And that is quite typical of Eton parents in my experience.

BadLad Mon 05-Nov-12 08:34:55

I suppose it depends what you mean by not thriving. If I had looked as if I wasn't going to do very well academically, then my parents would have taken me out of the place, on the grounds that there was no point paying all that money if I wasn't going to take the place seriously.

In the end I did well in GCSEs and A'Levels, although I was ranked in the middle in the school exams. I was certainly nowhere near the 7 As at A'level that one boy managed. He wasn't a King's Scholar - in fact he wasn't even an Oppidan Scholar (that's a scholar who isn't in the College house). His first choice of university rejected him at first, although they quickly had a rethink when he made the news because of his A'level results. No A* grades in those days.

Had I been unhappy, then again, I think my parents would have put me in another school. It would have depended why I was unhappy - if possible, they would have tried to sort the problem first, but if couldn't, then I am sure they wouldn't have made me stay there.

But as there was no problem, they wanted me to enthuse whenever I was asked "What's it like?" and not just say "Actually it's quite hard work - there's lots of difficult studying," which was my initial impression. I suppose this is because of people like the OP in this thread, who have made up their minds about the place and certainly won't be changing their opinion but will gleefully leap on anything that they feel vindicates it, even if it is nothing more unusual than a twelve-year old having a large appetite for biscuits.

JoanBias Mon 05-Nov-12 08:34:58

Yes presumably you want that £160k investment to seem worthwhile.

Although few seem to mind withdrawing their children from No Name Prep school, which might still be costing a significant amount of money.

For me it's a tricky think if the £160k is worth it. I've made OEs are so fabulously entitled and they walk into senior managerial positions pretty much oozing that Eton vibe, and it does seem that it's paid off really. But as I've said I think you need to be in that way in the first place, it's a sort of casting rather than a moulding process I would say.

Exceptional music provision/teaching so good for that too, although you do wonder if the DCs are doing music as a way to get into Eton, or if Eton is there to teach them music.

JoanBias Mon 05-Nov-12 08:39:34

> His first choice of university rejected him at first, although they quickly had a rethink when he made the news because of his A'level results.

Which uni was that?

I'm very hmm at people trying to embarrass Oxbridge on the basis of their A Level results and alleging discrimination either because they are state or private students.

> I suppose this is because of people like the OP in this thread, who have made up their minds about the place and certainly won't be changing their opinion but will gleefully leap on anything that they feel vindicates it, even if it is nothing more unusual than a twelve-year old having a large appetite for biscuits.

They would be 10-year-olds, or slightly younger, looking round. Not many schools have twelve year olds on open days.

exoticfruits Mon 05-Nov-12 08:43:04

You have to find the school to fit the child and not make the child fit the school that you like.
My impression (with only a superficial tour) was that it was an excellent school but even if I had pots of money I wouldn't have sent my DSs there-it wasn't the school for them and I could use the money to find ones that did fit.

BadLad Mon 05-Nov-12 08:51:07

I agree with that, exoticfruits.

If you'll excuse the personal horn-blowing, I could have gone to Harrow, as I took the scholarship exam there the February before I took Common Entrance. I didn't get a scholarship, but I was offered an unconditional place, and was tempted, largely because I could have just coasted through school until July. But for whatever reason, I just didn't like the place. I didn't much like the house I was in - even if only for a few days - disliked the housemaster at first sight, was put off the place by having to sleep in the makeshift sick room, and thought some of the ways they were testing me were odd. There was a bowl of money in the room, presumably to see if I would pinch any of it.

My parents were aghast, and so were my prep school - the latter in particular were insistent I accept the offer. But my parents supported me.

happygardening Mon 05-Nov-12 08:56:43

Most schools inevitably will have a mixture of "types" but within not very clearly defined parameters.
Lets be logical about this. At very selective schools there are likely to be many pushy parents this is inevitable if you pretty cool about examinations results university entrance you would be unlikely to send Jonty to a very selective school. Some schools are very liberal again you and most likely your DC are going to feel more comfortable in a liberal school if you are liberal. If you are a screaming snob/social climber then find a school that suits you. Ultimately schools like Eton with its awesome worldwide reputation are going to attract social climbers and screaming snobs and this inevitably will reflect in some of the children but not all. Whereas small country boarding school in the back of the beyond are likely to mainly be stuffed with wealthy farmers. Look at the parents at your prep listen to their choices of schools; that parent who who never stops talking about cricket and his son prowess on the crease is likely to choose a school where cricket is big so it many not be suitable for your DS if he thinks that cricket is the worse game ever invented and you think the idea of watching the 5ths play appalling cricket for five hours on a Saturday afternoon is hell. If you've got lots of mink coat wearing diamond dripping Bently driving parents all going on about the same school and your comfortable in gum boots its just possible their choice of school is not right for you and your DC.
One way to get a feel for a school is to read its termly calendar or even go on its website and look at the news bit. Its quite enlightening. If your want sporty school look at the sporting fixtures if its rugby right down to the colts F and ex England rugby players as coaches it means your DS is likely to be standing n the rugby pitch 5 days a week come hell or high water. If no rugby is ever mentioned it means they don't play it not that they've forgotten to publicise it! If theres two or three music concerts a week then music is important ditto plays although two a three a week is probably too many unless you hope your DC is going to be the Kenneth Brannagh in which case you might be delighted but maybe four or five productions a term. Those with a couple of lectures a week from highly regarded university professors are likely to more intellectual/academic than those whose hold regular BBQ's every week! Its always worth asking about policies on alcohol/smoking/contraception/health education surrounding sexually transmitted diseases etc. look around the school some have information sheets poster clearly displayed others dont IME the more liberal the school the more openly these things are discussed, also going out of school policy in their free time are restrictions placed on children do they have to wear uniform etc again a reflection of how liberal or not they are. It doesn't matter if your liberal or not and by default your DC but life is going to be easier for all of you if you and the school share similar views. Uniform is of course another issue. Some schools insist their pupils go home in their uniform others don't, some insist they wear their uniform when they go out to the local shops others don't, some parents and children think this is petty others love it. Ditto the type of uniform if you think in the ideal world then uniform should be banned then Eton/Christs is not the place for you, if you love traditional uniform and the whole idea of it (and I am reliably informed that some people do) then don't choose a school where where the uniform policy is not strongly enforce or there is no uniform at all. Some schools randomly screen all their children for drugs, breathalize 6th formers after they've been out some may see this as over kill others think its wonderful if it matters ask.
So kerrygrey Winchester has always had a history of being very academic the head frequently describes his school as full geeks eggheads etc and is proud of it. Prep school heads also generally make similar comments so it almost becomes self selecting parents who want this kind a school send their DS's there. It has a reputation for not being sporty at all not quite true but sport is optional after the 2nd year so not really suitable for sports nuts, Tatler once said "not suitable for interfering parents" full boarding schools in general are probably unsuited for interfering parents and I think Winchester takes its the fact thats its in loco parentis very carefully the boys are expected to turn to the school first of they have a problem so again I think this is true and you would be unhappy and drive the school up the wall if you were the sort of parents who wanted constant feed back and needed to be in control all the time.
It is inevitable as your DC goes through his school life that some little blip is going to occur when it does what could be resolvable may become much harder or even impossible to resolve if you have lots of other little niggles. Also IME children quickly pick up on our views about their schools if we're negative they become negative and obviously if were positive generally they'll feel the same so it is important that you are as fully signed up to the schools ethos as possible.
Many thanks for the concerned posting about the flood this morning the water has dropped back by almost 2 feet we live to see another day.

rabbitstew Mon 05-Nov-12 08:59:28

I should imagine Eton provides an incredibly intense experience for the children who go there - lots going on of a very high quality and an expectation that they make the most of it. I can see why it inspires such loyalty on the one hand and hatred on the other. In a way, that is my problem with it: such an intense experience is bound to lead to particularly strong feelings. Translate this into life after school and it's hard to see people not being drawn to others who have had the same, intense experience. The result can be lots of people from similar backgrounds with their hands on the reins of power, with little understanding of the lower intensity lives of the people around them...

BadLad Mon 05-Nov-12 09:03:57

rabbitstew - it doesn't really do that. Are you getting fanatical loyalty to the place from my posts?

Most OE's that I keep in touch with are rather indifferent to the place.

I don't live in the UK anymore, and when I hear people in this country saying something that is factually wrong about the country, I'll usually try to correct whatever they're saying, whether they are overly critical or hopeless Anglophiles.

I do the same about Eton.

rabbitstew Mon 05-Nov-12 09:08:14

I'm getting intensity from your posts, BadLad! I wouldn't have so much to describe about my secondary school as you do about yours. You make Eton sound like a very BIG experience, even if not a wholly fantastic one.

Xenia Mon 05-Nov-12 09:10:22

On the mixing that is not my experience. My daughter had friends at university from Eton (they still are friends) and I have no recollection at all that they only mixed with other boys from Eton.

I had lunch once with a friend who was weighing up pros and cons of sending his older son to Eton which we talked through. He had a slight concern it might be held against the boy later compared with some other schools. They decided not and he's done fine there.

However obviously I repeat my point that a lot of children prefer to live with their parents and siblings and many are harmed by the separation and plenty of boarding schools are not academically selective and children can obtain worse results than some day selective private schools.If you like a lot of time alone without any structure which I think our family or some of us is a bit like then there are downsides of boarding school. If you want a lot of hours looking into space which is not wrong - it's just different, there is not always so much scope for that. If you want one day to eat at 6 and another at 10pm it is harder at boarding school. In some it is harder to resist peer pressure. I am not saying my older 3 who have all graduated now don't smoke or take drugs because they went to day schools (NLC, Habs etc) but I haev been at a boarding school where the older boys were allowed out before pudding for a smoke. Now in our house and amongst people we know no one smokes ever so you might find you are presented with a culture where certain things that are not done at home are done and as you have less influence as a parent if you are not living with your teenagers every day I do suspect it is harder to show your own example to them.

rabbitstew Mon 05-Nov-12 09:10:34

And comparing my experience at state school with my experience at Oxford, the intensity of lots going on and a short period of time in which to experience it does have an effect on you - which, if you've had that all your life, including at school, I doubt you'd notice quite so much, because it's really just more of the same.

BadLad Mon 05-Nov-12 09:13:46

I have nothing to compare it to, although I did spend a week on exchange at a comprehensive school in Slough.

But it inspires neither great loyalty nor hatred.

What I find most interesting about it is the amount of interest in it from the outside, like this thread, and the numerous tourists who stop the boys and take photos of them. And that did lead to more interest in my progress from relatives and friends of my parents than there might otherwise have been, I suppose.

rabbitstew Mon 05-Nov-12 09:16:46

It's a bit like a member of the Royal Family commenting that it is most interesting, the amount of interest they get from the outside... If you are going to steep yourselves in tradition in addition to being hugely wealthy, you are going to attract those interested in how power, wealth and status are gained and retained and which of those are most personally beneficial.

JoanBias Mon 05-Nov-12 09:17:29

It shouldn't really a surprise. There's lots of interest in Oxford and Cambridge too. These at least do not select on the ability to afford £32k/year fees, so you've got a double whammy - elitism and privilege.

BadLad Mon 05-Nov-12 09:21:12

I never thought about it like that, perhaps because I usually try not to encourage people automatically associating the Royal Family with Eton.

But anyway, that is one of my most enduring memories of the place - the extreme interest in it, which, when I was younger puzzled me quite a lot.

amillionyears Mon 05-Nov-12 09:33:04

If you dont mind me asking, BadLad, do you now work with people who were privately educated,at Eton or otherwise.
Or are you say,in management, and you were helped to get there because of your Eton background.

JoanBias Mon 05-Nov-12 09:38:32

Hmm, they can't have done a very good job teaching you to be humble about Eton, if you found it so puzzling as a boy that people were very interested in one of the world's richest, oldest, best-equipped schools, that educates some of the richest, best-known people in the world.

Hamishbear Mon 05-Nov-12 09:40:33

Very strange - Yesterday I noted Xenia had made a grammatical error in one of her posts. Today I find it's been corrected but post otherwise unchanged? How? I thought it was impossible to edit posts here? Am I mistaken?

rabbitstew Mon 05-Nov-12 09:43:42

Power, wealth and status do not bring freedom, that's for certain - with that combination of assets, you will always attract attention and will find it very difficult to give them up in order to avoid it, particularly since you will most likely have to give up all three or none at all.

happygardening Mon 05-Nov-12 09:53:36

"but I haev been at a boarding school where the older boys were allowed out before pudding for a smoke."
Perhaps you'd be so kind as to divulge the name of this school! I very much doubt this is happening in 2012. Of course chidlren of boarding schools smoke and there is peer pressure but I doubt its any stronger than that at day schools and it is a criminal offence to sell cigarettes to under 18 year olds. Most boarding schools take a pretty dim view on smoking. The other positive thing is that all proper boarding schools have medical centres where stop smoking advise is freely available and help given by nurses/GPs who understand teenagers, that the children usually know and have 24 hour a day access too rather than a unknown nurse/GP in a GP surgery.
My husband went to St Paul's he started smoking at 13!

VernonSmith Mon 05-Nov-12 09:57:37

BadLad, I fear I am the offender who mixed up dames and housemistresses and matrons. There is a lot to take in on one short day at Eton (we spent about seven hours getting there and back on the train) for someone whose only personal experience of schools is day ones!

happygardening Mon 05-Nov-12 10:10:01

Dames and matrons are one and the same the thing to find out is are they resident? As some are and some aren't. Generally house masters mistresses (HMs) are the same sex as the pupils in the house although I believe the HM of College at Eton is women. Most HMs are married often with children and the involvement of their spouses varies but we were shown around Eton by an HMs wife. Houses also have at least one other resident teacher usually called a resident house tutor (RHT) or assistant house tutor again normally the same sex as the pupils. Then there are usually tutors attached to the house these don't live in the house but spend at least one day a week in it often too 9 10 o'clock at night they supervise prep and are often the personal tutors of the children in that house. At most schools the HM is the key person as he/she sets the tone some have significantly more autonomy than others. HTH

VernonSmith Mon 05-Nov-12 10:10:55


Tanith Mon 05-Nov-12 10:13:52

Very surprised at the "Dim Millfield" tag. That's definitely not my perception of the children taking part in the chess tournaments.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 05-Nov-12 10:24:30

I do hope that people are noting who it is who calls some private school pupils dim and thick. Can't help feeling there's some misdirected flak that goes on about this issue.

Greythorne Mon 05-Nov-12 10:27:48


I, too, am fascinated to see Xenia's 9.05.51 post has been amended. 'more worser' to 'worser'. Proof perhaps that Xenia is a non too subtle MNHQ invention to keep the boards rolling in agony at her extremism?

Tis a day for conspiracy theories.

An explanation would be nice.

seeker Mon 05-Nov-12 10:35:14

Mumsnet once fixed an unfortunate typo for me- I imagine Xenia asked for it to be edited.

TOSN- I noticed that too- and the usual suspects seem to be letting it go.

Hamishbear Mon 05-Nov-12 10:43:36

I think Xenia's real ok and very enterprising - she perhaps approached MNHQ herself and offered her services for a fee. Islands don't come cheap these days smile

Greythorne she also muddled 'sort' and 'sought' - yikes, something you'd expect from the 'dim' at Millfield but not her smile. Now corrected too.

Hamishbear Mon 05-Nov-12 10:44:26

Seeker - surely more than one or two in one thread though?

Excellent - everytime I make grammatical mistakes, I will call upon MN to sort them out. fab.

Rosevase Mon 05-Nov-12 10:46:18

happygardening sorry, had to butt in. Hopefully the preconception that HMs should generally be the same sex as the pupils is well on the way of dying out. Certainly, there are a few top boarding schools where there are male housemasters. Benenden for example have had then for 20 years! I personally think how wonderful that pupils can see both sexes in pastoral roles and hope it becomes more evenly spilt in time, along with other roles that have traditionally been gender specific.
Just to add something to Xenia. I actually know NLCS extremely well, and it's the reason my children are boarding. I felt the pressure of cramming everything into a 9-4 day Monday to Friday is detrimental to children. Certainly, being able to extend the school day, have sports in daylight hours, do independent study at times other than the evening, and eat meals properly and slowly became important to me as a parent. And that's why I chose boarding. No "reason" like singing in a cathedral school was needed for me. I just think that's the sort of all round education I would like for my children.
Boarding schools are different now. Just just in warmer duvets and better food. The pastoral care is truly magnificent. Instead of two parents bringing up a teenager, it feels a team of people. And ime, children do not become detached.

Xenia Mon 05-Nov-12 10:47:47

Millfield's position at 650 in A level league tables of course tells you it's academic status. That doesn't mean children in low scoring schools all do badly. I had the best A levels in my low scoring school. However it is definitely so. It never does well because of the children it takes. Eton only takes very bright boys so not surprisingly is usually in the top 20 or 5 for A level results. Millfield is a mixed comp and Eton a single sex grammar. It does not mean either is better or worse just different.

I have not amended a post. Since my earlier one I have been taking work calls and then doing a fairly long email to one of the children (who is engaged... lovely news).

I have never asked for a typo to be edited in my life anywhere on line and I have virtually never asked for anything posted about me to be removed as I'm a huge freedom of speech person but I am never happy if people identify me.

Anyone who knows who I am will know what school I mean (re smoking) as it is the only one that near me and it was a few years ago, not that many and several years in a row. Christmas dinner finished. Older boys said - can I go out sir, quite a few on various tables all over the room and they went out for their smoke. I doubt they said they were going out to smoke and I am sure everyone knew they were going out to smoke. They may have changed things now of course. I am simply saying as a parent you have more control. Of coruse plenty of parents are absolutely useless and the more time the children spend away from them the better. I know one friend (Millfield) where neither parent wanted them after the divorce 0 they were fighting to avoid custody as it then was and the solution was boardings school and various relatives at holidays.

rabbitstew Mon 05-Nov-12 10:48:40

Hey, I want my errors corrected, too! I didn't think proof reading services normally earned you enough to buy an island, though, particularly not services in which only your errors were corrected.

Xenia Mon 05-Nov-12 10:51:09

" Hamishbear Mon 05-Nov-12 09:40:33

Very strange - Yesterday I noted Xenia had made a grammatical error in one of her posts. Today I find it's been corrected but post otherwise unchanged? How? I thought it was impossible to edit posts here? Am I mistaken?"

I can't be bothered to go back to the other page but I certainly haven't. Perhaps you just remembered incorrectly. My grammar and spelling is pretty good. I wrote 30 books etc but I certainly make typos. I tend not to make grammatical errors as I type as I speak and I speak okay but I certainly don't give mumsnet posts the attention I give work writing and I am sure from time to time I make slip ups. Also I am not perfect - see the £1k a day earnings threads etc - lots of things I've done have failed and I am sure there will be bits of grammar I don't even know! I have the humility to think we learn more every day. Education is a life long thing.

rabbitstew Mon 05-Nov-12 10:51:13

Waits with baited breath to see whether MNHQ correct "it's".

Xenia Mon 05-Nov-12 10:52:06

I usually get it's (it is) and its (possessive) right but as I say sometimes typos.

rabbitstew Mon 05-Nov-12 10:52:50

Xenia - I believe in you. You're much too much fun for me to want to believe you are an invention!

Xenia Mon 05-Nov-12 10:56:22

I suppose it is in my interests if people think I am invented as I don't want to be identified.

happygardening Mon 05-Nov-12 10:56:23

Im sure Rosevase there are some excellent boarding schools where there are male HMs in girls houses and vice versa but I suspect these are few and are between certainly all the more traditional ones don't have then; Radley Harrow Winchester Stowe Marlborough Sherbourne and even liberal St Edwards. As the mother of a son I personally wouldn't choose a house with a female house mistress I like the make role model combined with the fact that nearly all matrons (dames if people prefer) are women.

amillionyears Mon 05-Nov-12 10:56:45

Hamishbear, care to elaborate?
I didnt know/wouldnt have thought,that it is possible to change posts?

Hamishbear Mon 05-Nov-12 10:56:51

Sssh, Rabbit. Perhaps, Xenia. I tend to notice these things and thought it was a bit strange the word had seemingly changed. Odd that Greythorne noticed similar but perhaps coincidence.

Hamishbear Mon 05-Nov-12 10:57:54

See posts up thread and Greythorne's comment amillionyears.

amillionyears Mon 05-Nov-12 10:58:00

Sorry, I seem to have missed several posts altogether.

Xenia Mon 05-Nov-12 10:58:51

May be they have spell check software although I doubt it. You just have to look at a housewives v working mothers thread to see the thickos who stay home to bake cakes and how they spell and write and their low levels of education and rush to use swear words and the like compared to working mothers. If we corrected them you would not be able to tell on threads who was a housewife or a benefit claimant before reading the content of their missives.

Can you post the post here and tell me the typo and I can say if I were likely to have made the original spelling or not?

happygardening Mon 05-Nov-12 11:01:05

"My grammar and spelling is pretty good."hmm and shock
Im no proof reader by any stretch of the imagination but I would not describe your grammar and spelling as pretty good there are many people on MN who make less typos and spelling and grammar errors then you and I Xenia. In fact thats something I would say we have in common!

happygardening Mon 05-Nov-12 11:03:24

"You just have to look at a housewives v working mothers thread to see the thickos who stay home to bake cakes and how they spell and write and their low levels of education"
OK everyone just to let you know Im not rising to it! grin

TheOriginalSteamingNit Mon 05-Nov-12 11:03:57

Well, that post certainly makes me want to rush to use a few judicious swear words, Xenia, but I shall refrain.

Not swearing doesn't make your posts any less offensive, rude or ill-mannered, but I think you know full well what you're doing, really.

amillionyears Mon 05-Nov-12 11:05:37

I have wondered this about Xenia too.
She is real, but that does not stop her being also employed by MNHQ.
The first post I could find on MN about her started with "I have been invited over here to talk about.....". I thought that was a strange turn of phrase, and have wondered ever since. fwiw, I think there are at least a couple more who may be on MNHQs payroll.
And there are MNHQ employees who post in their ordinary MN names, when not working.

amillionyears Mon 05-Nov-12 11:07:23

ooh, now Xenia is being defensive, and trying to deflect on to something else outrageous.
ooh, looks like we are right.

Hamishbear Mon 05-Nov-12 11:11:20

Xenia has also told us just now that she has just finished writing a 'long email' relating to her job (or something like that) - in case we might begin to wonder about her day job and time spent on it. Why not do a bit of freelance writing on the side. I'd love to if someone gave me the chance.

PosieParker Mon 05-Nov-12 11:21:26

Thickos who stay home??? Wow you should read the tripe that gets sent around my DH's company, all graduates but thick very very thick, poor spelling and grammar. They even have a policy where women can 'show a bit of boob, but not a lot'.

Yellowtip Mon 05-Nov-12 11:22:28

Xenia your spelling and grammar is execrably bad! I've actually long assumed that you must be a tiny bit thick yourself but simply achieved through dogged determination and hard work. That's perfectly possible in the legal world.

Pagwatch Mon 05-Nov-12 11:28:28

I stay at home but rarely bake.
I am not sure I am thick though. Although I think there is academic thick and human thick. You know, those who have a great education and opportunities aplenty but use all of that to be superior and unpleasant rather than kind and supportive

I like the sahm/wohm threads to stay untouched though. They are always most illuminating. It's like cuntwatch.

<resorts to swearing just to help the dimwitted stereotyping along>

amillionyears Mon 05-Nov-12 11:31:17

Curiouser and curiouser. Years of Xenia's MN history has been wiped out.
Did you ask for that to be done Xenia?
That is not normally done.

happygardening Mon 05-Nov-12 11:31:25

Perhaps Xenia means those SAHM who are too thick to realise that if they went back to work when their DC was 6 hours old they would now be on
£100 000 PA oh and own an island!

SchrodingersSexKitten Mon 05-Nov-12 11:35:01

The poster who has unquestionably the worst spelling, punctuation and grammar on the whole of MN is scottishmummy and she is one of the loudest and most aggressive pro-working mums.

happygardening Mon 05-Nov-12 11:36:32

amillionyears for a long time I've suspected Xenia jabed or is it now ronaldo peternas and maybe even seeker (although Im less convinced about her) are either one and the same we've got this nutter in our town who could quite easily pull a stunt like this or just not real people at all made up by MNHQ to entertain themselves and to encourage people to keep posting. And there's that other loon whose posted that "Super-child-Part-1-related-to-11-plus" he surely cant be normal or real.

NellyJob Mon 05-Nov-12 11:37:57

I work as a proofreader but cannot believe that people are being picked up and compared for errors on an internet forum.
Laydeez, get lives!

seeker Mon 05-Nov-12 11:44:11

Was just coming on to say that I once got a thread deleted for suggesting that Xenia and Claig were the same person.

Happy gardening- I am real, honest. How can I prove it?