Eton, Harrow, Westminster or Radley?

(16 Posts)
Kippers2 Mon 21-Apr-14 17:53:39

Hi, we have a DS in year 4 and have been advised that if we are looking for a public school then we need to start now. We have had a look at available scholarships and have narrowed the big list down to 4 schools that DS wants to look at.

Any one any advice about looking at these 4 and how to get them interested in actually offering you a place?

We do have a back up plan of a local independent school but DS has always said he wants to go to Eton since a neighbours grandson went. (Long story but DS decided he wanted to go as well).

Were not prepared to take the risk of looking at just Eton so have narrowed it to the aforementioned 4 plus a local independent school and some really good local comps. We would have to apply for bursaries or go down the scholarship route.

We are just wondering if anyone has some really good advice on scholarships/bursaries and what sort of questions would be useful (obviously we have our own questions but any we might not have thought about would be handy to know). Also what their experiences were/ why they chose.

Thank you smile

MumTryingHerBest Mon 21-Apr-14 18:06:40

Hi Kippers2. Can't help with specifics but does your son already have a tutor helping prepare for the exams? The reason I ask is that they may be well placed to answer these questions for you.

If you don't already have a tutor, now would be a good time to get one as preps. heavily prepare children for the likes of Eton and competition is going to be tough.

Thetimes123 Mon 21-Apr-14 18:32:27

Did you watch the series on Harrow? Was brilliant and on one episode it had a boy from up norfth trying for a scholarship.
What's your son's extra special gift or talent - music, art, maths?

Kippers2 Mon 21-Apr-14 18:35:41

DS doesn't+ have a tutor, we were looking at sending him to a prep for years 5-8 but we also came across the New Foundation scholarship offered to boys from state schools.
Not sure which would be the best route as one is more fail safe than the other (Prep. then CE) but the other would be more beneficial in the long term (New foundation scholarship) on the cost front.
We are fine for the local independent as they offer up to 100% bursaries for those who get a certain % in the entrance exam (which is based on the National Curriculum anyways) and need financial assistance.
Our main concern is that we know nothing about getting into a top public school or the best way about it. CE or Scholarships? :S

Kippers2 Mon 21-Apr-14 18:37:51

DS is quite cleaver hes NC level 4c/edging on level 5 according to his class teacher and hes already grade 2 in piano and thinking about starting a 2nd instrument.

Kippers2 Mon 21-Apr-14 18:38:21

Sorry I meant level 4A/5C

ZeroSomeGameThingy Mon 21-Apr-14 22:39:41

"and how to get them interested in actually offering you a place?"

OP Unless your child is an actual certified genius (or royalty) the only way of getting a place at the type of school you mention is to register, sit the pre-tests (if there is one) and then pass CE or the scholarship exam. There's really no smoke and mirrors or anything that isn't fully set out on the school websites. Some of the schools might also offer music or sports scholarships - but in general any major financial help would come from a means-tested bursary.

So I'm not completely sure what you're asking. Each of those schools should have a clear route to entry from both state and prep schools - neither should be a barrier.

To stand the best chance your child should be able to impress on paper, in conversation, in behaviour (they need an excellent report from their current HT.) Musical and sporting achievements will only influence things if they are seriously good.

Have you visited all the schools? It may be a tiny bit early for your DC to be able to judge but you might be able to narrow your choice even more if you don't like one or two in the flesh.

What do you want from a school?

houselikeashed Mon 21-Apr-14 23:09:15

Are you at state now??
I think Eton and Radley have Foundation type awards for boys from state schools that will pay for years 7 and 8 at a prep school before entering the senior school. Look at the web sites, and speak to the admissions people to find out.

Tip - when choosing a second instrument, think what a school may need (i.e., the less popular instruments!!!). Obviously, ds needs to enjoy the instrument, but worth bearing in mind I reckon!

Good luck.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Mon 21-Apr-14 23:59:57

Mmm... Eton used to have an award like that - they don't now but there is a clearly defined state school path leading to a New Foundation Scholarship. (I don't know about Radley.)

OP there are no fail safe or guaranteed ways to gain entry to a really selective school. HTs at the very "top" preps - the ones that send several boys to these public schools every year still have to face disappointed parents every year.

happygardening Tue 22-Apr-14 06:00:12

Harrow does that scholarship thing (we know someone who's on it) ?The Beckwith scholarship for boys in state ed, they pay for them to attend a ?boarding prep school of their choice but with Harrow's recommendation for yr 7 and yr 8 and then a scholarship/means tested bursary into Harrow at yr 9. I think there was a documentary about it try searching it on YouTube. Radley does the same.
Westminster I believe primarily only offers bursaries to those who live in London and don't require boarding places.
I know little about music scholarships but was recently told by a boy at my DS's school (Winchester) who is a music scholar that at yr 8 you have to be at least grade 8 in at least 1 instrument preferably 2 or even three and one should be a rare one if you have any hope of getting a music scholarship, I suspect Eton would be the same and we know of a fantastic musician (at DS's old prep) who was grade 8 only in one rare instrument and grade 5 in another who only got a exhibition into Harrow. From talking to friends as far as I understand music scholarships don't always guarantee help with the fees, just free music lessons, you would have to apply for a separate bursary and you would then need to find out how generous an individuals schools bursary provision is. All four schools clearly details their bursary provision on their websites.
Harrow, Eton and Westminster are exceedingly over subscribed and as already said even preps with fantastic records of getting children in will every year have very able children who tick all the boxes who don't get it. Radley has a ridiculously early registration for children from prep schools you may have already missed the boat if your not already registered, although you can get in off "Warden List" although I'm not sure how easy this is you might benefit from starting a separate thread about this.
There is no magical way of getting a place or financial support especially very substantial financial support into any of them. Your DS will have to work very hard, prove himself to be very able and also have a bit of luck. If you are considering a prep for yrs 5-8 then are you hoping for a scholarship/bursary. Good preps with good track records of regularly getting boys into the four you mentioned are usually exceedingly expensive. I'm not saying you can't do it from a small unknown cheaper prep with no track record but it's not so easy especially as competition for places is getting fiercer by the yr.
You state you have a local day school offering 100% bursaries there are frequent posts on here from parents whose DC's have been offered places at schools who they thought would offer them a 100% but they were not able to take it because the 100% bursary failed to materialise so don't assume your get it.
The assistance offered to children from state schools might be a better option for your DS if you need substantial funding because it's guaranteed financial assistance right down to the socks. I've no idea how competitive it is to get a place, very I suspect, the programs on CBB's I'm sure has increased the numbers interested in a place at Eton and raised awareness in general. Good luck.

BeckAndCall Tue 22-Apr-14 06:47:08

Have you factored in the proportion of fees you will need to find yourselves?

I know nothing of the public schools, but for the local independent - they're all different - you need to be pretty special academically around here to get a scholarship and then it's only in the 30% range. And I think I'm right in saying that most schools offer only partial bursaries if you are elgibile.

There needs to be serious financial planning.

namelessposter Tue 22-Apr-14 07:12:10

Admission to these schools is solely on the basis of academic test and interview. Bias will be towards children coming from established feeder schools, as having a proven tendency to shared values with existing pupils. If you want to improve your chances, get his name down for the feeder school, and get ready for lots of tutoring. But tbh, you might also just want to wait and see what type of person he is. Not all of those schools will suit all boys. Of course you want to give him the best possible start in life - but these are other excellent established public schools beyond these famous 4. A good prep school should be able to help you find the one that will bring out the best in the boy he grows into.

happygardening Tue 22-Apr-14 09:02:33

Just looked on the Harrow website the Peter Beckwith scholarship which assists with prep fees and Harrow fees is open to a child at prep or state school but they must be in a position where they can't afford boarding fees. But at £33+ pa that's most people, they only offer two places a year. There's lots of info on Harrow website.

IndridCold Tue 22-Apr-14 14:18:44

OP - for more information on Eton you should contact Francesca Moultrie, the Admisssions Access Adviser. Her details are on the website, along with lots of other information on bursaries and scholarships.

I would have thought that you would have a better chance, in terms of the number of applicants per place, going for the standard entry procedure with a bursary, rather than the New Foundation Scholarship.

I also second the suggestion of considering something a bit unusual as a second instrument; I don't think Grade 2 piano will impress the music departments of any of these 4 schools, I'm afraid. However, it might be worth seeing if the bassoon, viola or some of the lower brass instruments appeal to your DS, all of these are often in short supply in school orchestras, and you don't need to be Grade 8+ standard to be welcomed.

I wish your DS the best of luck!

Kippers2 Fri 25-Apr-14 19:45:13

Thanks everyone, I think I was just a bit unsure about how the whole system worked.
IndridCold thank you very much for the contact. She was very helpful smile

Michaelahpurple Fri 25-Apr-14 20:46:05

You aren't madly too early for E or W as you need to register by various times in year 5 (too late for general registration for R, but they hold quite a few places for Warden's list, and I don't know about H (H has added an early round of interviews which don't give rise to places, taking place in year 6 for selected candidates so worth being in time to see if that happens, main assessment is yr 7).

You don't have ages as, as I am sure you know, the test to get a conditional place for W and E is in year 6.

I think at the margin having something interesting on the CV and to talk about helps (spectacular or abstruse music, county swimming, art prizes, fascinating hobby) but except for the most astonishingly accomplished the test results are are much more important , along with a good head's report and coherence at interview. And remember that any cv stuffing has to done by the start of year 6 , far earlier than one would feel is a natural cut off point for year 9 entrance.

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