The big Eton, Harrow, Radley, Winchester question...

(65 Posts)
TinkerBellThree Thu 27-Feb-14 14:29:25

I have been reading a lot of threads on this site and found it hugely informative (and sometimes quite amusing). I hope you don't mind me picking your brain as I find that I am increasingly confusing myself.confused

Our DS is in year 5 and we have started to visit senior schools for him.
We have seen Radley, Harrow, Eton and Winchester, and been to a few co-ed schools as well, but have decided that single sex is probably more right for DS.

DS is quite academic (though I tend to believe he is not as much so as his school tells me he is), sporty and very competitive. He is very social and he loves to try out new things.

Our DS' Prep is adamant that he is made for Eton and Eton is made for him, and I must admit we loved the school when we visited, so we have put his name down there. However, it is exceedingly hard to get into and I am not counting my chickens (and I think the likelihood of a place is slimmer than slim) so I believe we need (several) back-up(s) - so here is where I am getting confused...

Radley (who I understand is a "normal" backup for Eton) is not encouraged by our DS' school (not sure why) and Harrow worries me a little with its reputation of not being very challenging academically (has this changed?).

Originally we ruled out Winchester as it was not "sporty" enough, but having been to visit, we have had to re-think as we found there were lots of opportunities for our DS to do sports. Our DS' Prep think it should be on our list - but is a boy so "suited" for Eton really suited for WinCol?

All the above schools are within easy reach of where we live, so we will have ample opportunity to see matches etc.

Where should we put DS' name down? For all the schools on our list + some (as he may not get into any of the above)? Or should we be more focused?

I know a lot of you have vast amounts of experience and possibly been through the same conundrum yourself, and I would really very much appreciate your input.

dellon Sat 01-Mar-14 14:05:42

agree completely with that analogy grovel

TheBeautifulVisit Sat 01-Mar-14 13:43:18

grovel - I like that. smile

grovel Sat 01-Mar-14 13:05:49

A Winchester teacher (slightly tongue-in-cheek) once said to me that there is a spectrum of boarding schools. At one end is Winchester - an unashamedly academic/intellectual environment with some high quality extra-curricular activities to keep the boys alert. At the other end of the spectrum are the "country clubs with a bit of teaching thrown in".

I'd put Eton at Winchester's end of the spectrum but closer to the middle.

TheBeautifulVisit Sat 01-Mar-14 12:14:04

Tinkerbell - he may not be blond but I bet your son's brunette locks are luxe. And when the sun catches a lock of his hair and an elixir of honey and sweat bead from his handsome brow, I'll bet his hair creates a rainbow of hi lights in tones of deep caramel, saffron and Manuka honey. grin. Good luck with the choice of schools.

TinkerBellThree Sat 01-Mar-14 08:52:26

Thank you all (most of you) for your insight!

Ingrid - I am, sort of - but not a back-up as such, more a "contender" for our list and worth going for. I was surprised that a boy who could be a good fit for Eton could also fit at Winchester.

Fwiw - I don't believe anyone would base their decision on what they are told in a forum such as this - it is just one more piece of information to the puzzle which is the bringing up of our DC.

TinkerBellThree Sat 01-Mar-14 08:12:56

Zero - thank you for the link to that thread! Made my morning wink. Should I be upset my DS is not blond - do you think i have to bleach his hair??? Will that better his chances grin

nongnangning Fri 28-Feb-14 14:12:22

Coo, I am loving the tuck box. Left wing or not I am thinking of getting one now I have seen it. Not for my DS, obviously ... for me grin grin

Lottiedoubtie Fri 28-Feb-14 13:46:11

That kind of comment would fit in well on the thread you started that Zero linked to, fwiw it's a very funny thread. as most well observed satire is.

It's not really relevant to the OP's question and pretty rude in this context though.

mateysmum Fri 28-Feb-14 13:39:41

Beautiful. If you want to argue the toss between private/boarding or state education, there are plenty of other threads on which to do so. The OP has made her choice and simply wants guidance between schools.

Sorry OP, I have no knowledge of any of your short list schools, just wanted to respond to Beautiful.

Have you visited Winchester yet? Did it feel like a suitable alternative for your DS?

TheBeautifulVisit Fri 28-Feb-14 12:56:16

If he goes to Radley he gets to put his Maltesers in one of these:

Surely that should be the decider?

Lottiedoubtie Fri 28-Feb-14 12:40:58

Quite rude Thebeautifulvisit the OP is allowed to ask about boarding schools simply because that is her preference for her son. There doesn't have to be a reason to justify it.

propatria Fri 28-Feb-14 12:35:22

the op asked for single sex full boarding schools that are selective then the list makes sense,just as if they are asked for co-ed I imagine for example Rugby and Oundle were on the list.

TheBeautifulVisit Fri 28-Feb-14 10:50:52

It isn't compulsory to send your 13 year old to boarding school you know. There are day schools. And at 13 you can't claim a childcare problem.

handcream Fri 28-Feb-14 10:46:05

There is little difference between boarding fees for say Eton, or Bradfield. All virtually the same

IndridCold Fri 28-Feb-14 10:40:53

I'm a bit confused reading this OP. Are you asking about Winchester as a back up to Eton? I would have thought that it was just as hard to get into.

Your DS does sound like an excellent fit for Eton, so he probably has a pretty good chance, although numbers applying do seem to be increasing.

TinkerBellThree Fri 28-Feb-14 10:21:05

Non what a great insight on Radley - thank you! And I see your point entirely!
Word Thank you for your input!
Zero - yes, I have been trying to find threads on the house selection at WinCol - which is why I knew it was important... now only to make the right choice...

Hand That is brilliant to hear wrt your DS! Crossing fingers for his A-levels! Stressful time I can imagine!

Beautiful I am not sure there is a significant difference in school fees between the different boarding schools? Or am I misunderstanding your question?

TheBeautifulVisit Fri 28-Feb-14 10:18:35

Zerosome - I didn't construct that thread in honour of the OP. it is in honour of all the parents on the Internet who ask strangers to help them choose the perfect school for their brilliant, quirky, sporty, musical, sociable, confident, rounded, blond DCs. There are MANY.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Fri 28-Feb-14 10:11:37

TinkerBell You must feel very thrilled about the thread BeautifulVisit has constructed in your honour......


Have this brew while you peruse it....

nongnangning Fri 28-Feb-14 10:07:50

LOL. Thanks handcream.

I went to a private school myself in fact (although I was the scholarship girl).

In terms of left wing ness I can't seem to get that worked up about a few private schools these days - I am more interested in seeing improved standards for the majority in state schools. What I would like to see is some of the great 'leadership' training that the top private schools seem to give, working its way into the state system (maybe some can tell me this is in hand!). Obviously if you come from a family of leaders - business, political, whatever - as some at these top private schools do then that helps some. And I think state schools do a good job of teaching children to be good citizens. But being a good citizen is not the same as being a good leader. This is a topic for another thread, perhaps.

TheBeautifulVisit Fri 28-Feb-14 09:57:30

Add message | Report | Message poster TheBeautifulVisit Fri 28-Feb-14 00:26:06
What is these particular schools teach then? What's prsent at these schools but not available at cheaper, less ostentatious schools?

TheBeautifulVisit Fri 28-Feb-14 09:55:27

Handcream - what's your son hoping to go on to do? Which university does he plan to attend?

handcream Fri 28-Feb-14 09:48:52

Non - what a lovely reply. There are so many people claiming to be left wing and they wouldnt be seen dead in these sorts of schools having NEVER set foot in one.

It is also my job to ensure that my DS's do not get too big for their boots and think that their very expensive education is the norm.

My DS is doing his A Levels and the school has been the making of him. Reason we chose boarding is quite simple. There werent any day schools around here that wouldnt involve us having to take him to either the school or the bus stop every day. As we both work we couldnt do it.

nongnangning Fri 28-Feb-14 09:23:05

To my great surprise as I am a diehard leftie who will not be sending my DS to any of these schools, I have something useful to contribute to this thread.

I have a couple of very old friends who teach at Radley. They live on the school estate as many of the staff do, so I have been there many times and met a number of their teacher colleagues.

It is a lovely place with a great feel. The houseparents I have met have been warm and caring and the teachers I have met well qualified and committed. On occasion when we've been walking in the grounds or at the river we come across gaggles of boys, who are unflaggingly polite and all look like Prince Harry. As I understand it the academic environment is less absolutely 'hothouse' than some of its competitor schools, although those who need extra help get it, of course. Rather brilliantly for such a posh school aimed at the sons of privilege there is a relationship with a school in an African village and a trip there every year - pupils have to make an effort to raise money to go on the trip (ie not just have daddy buy the ticket). Possibly all these schools now do this, dunno - but I thought it was good, anyway.

A new headmaster has either just started or is about to start. HTH.

wordfactory Fri 28-Feb-14 09:02:38

OP, a few years ago I was chewing this over for my DS and in the end we plumped for...Westminster grin.

FWIW I don't think Eton and Win Col are offering the same thing at all. And for the pirces they charge (as someone has brought up) you may as well get a near-as-damn-it perfect fit for your boy.

There isn't room for too much nuance here, but I'd say Eton is for the all rounder, Win Col for the quirky scholar. That's not to say boys of each pursuasion don't go to the other one and thrive...but you get my drift.

Harrow is less academic (such things being relative) but has terrific sports, if that's important for your DC.

Radley I don't know too werll. Never seriously considered it for my boy but I know parents with boys there who are happy with it. It seems to be like a less highly charged Eton grin.

I don't think it's ever worth worrying about who went to these schools. But you might want to consider how flexible they are witrh boarding. For example, with Exeats and special weekends, a boy at Radley won't often go more than two/three weekends without coming home. Eton can be much less than that.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Fri 28-Feb-14 08:43:47

OP I do hope you've found a few previous "Winchester" threads? They are very informative - if you have the energy.... Some very knowledgeable posters, and some others.

So - yes, you do have to apply to an individual Housemaster. Ideally your HM (or anyone you know who has current knowledge) can recommend to you two or three that your DS might get on with. Otherwise you need to call the Registrar - who will ask you about your Ds's talents and interests and try to match you with at least two.

Do try to arrange your visits as early as possible; if lots of house lists are full you will have less choice. And I think they also try to limit the number of boys from any one school joining the same house - which may or may not be relevant for you.

It does make a difference which house a boy joins. The atmosphere and ..... oh, not so much ethos but manner of each house depends on the personality and interests of the housemaster. And I think personality is more important here than academic discipline. Ask lots of questions. Ask if he will still be there when your son arrives!

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