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Eton/Harrow - Girls' equivalent?

(76 Posts)
receiverofopiniongiver Sun 27-Feb-11 09:25:28

My teenage daughter asked me yesterday - what is the equivalent girls school to Eton/Harrow?

i.e. what is the school that anywhere in the world you said x people would know of it, and know what the education gave.

I struggled with the answer.

Hardandsleazy Sun 27-Feb-11 21:35:25

More interesting how few of schools on here are mentioned

GrimmaTheNome Sun 27-Feb-11 21:37:06

Fascinating that some schools which are still extant were founded in the so-called 'dark ages'!

MarshaBrady Sun 27-Feb-11 21:39:18

I don't think any other school has a reputation which is as strong as Eton. (internationally)

carmenetonense Sun 27-Feb-11 21:39:39

Thanks. There are such a lot that are so old. It seems to me very strange and sad that for so long, the education of girls depended upon having parents sufficiently enlightened to educate them in the home.

FloreatEtonia Sun 27-Feb-11 22:06:15

Outside of London most people haven't heard of St Paul's Girls, NLC, CLGS etc so although they may be academically excellent they do not have an international or UK-wide reputation.

The most famous schools are:

Winchester (though many have never heard of this)

as for girls, there are more famouse co-ed schools than girls schools:


but WA, CLC and Benenden are probably the most famous girls schools.

receiverofopiniongiver Mon 28-Feb-11 07:46:49

The criteria was instant recognition, wherever you were of what type of school you had been to.

The conversation started about our local 'posh' independent, and my daughter was classing it alongside Eton and Winchester, but thought it was different because it was co-ed, and I explained that it was a different class, and although well-known locally, out of the area, not everyone would know it, and internationally few people would of heard of it.

So then her question was where's the equivalent for Girls' schools, where could you go as a girl, that wherever you mentioned the name, they'd know the school.

mrsshackleton Mon 28-Feb-11 10:28:58

I'd say the only school that might fall into that category (internationally known) is Cheltenham Ladies

However, the type of person who wants the very best for their child would want sons to go to Eton and girls to go to Wycombe Abbey

grovel Mon 28-Feb-11 10:37:33

St Mary's Ascot (mentioned above) would be the equivalent of Ampleforth.

chicaguapa Mon 28-Feb-11 10:49:54

I have to say my first reaction was Cheltenham Ladies as an 'equivalent' to Eton. Where did Princess Anne go? If the boys all go to Eton.

BlackType Mon 28-Feb-11 10:56:25

I've barely ever heard of some of these schools (esp. the London ones, which I've only ever heard of on MN), and I'm reasonably knowledgeable about boarding schools thanks to husband/father/children. I'd say Cheltenham Ladies would be generally well known, possibly also Benenden and Roedean. But I wouldn't say there was any real equivalent to Harrow/Eton if you mean 'famous single sex boarding schools'.

grovel Mon 28-Feb-11 11:13:40

Chica, Princess Anne went to Benenden.

mrsshackleton Mon 28-Feb-11 14:19:28

But Princess Anne's brothers went to Gordonstoun, it's only William and Harry who went to Eton

grovel Mon 28-Feb-11 15:29:06

Zara P also went to Gordonstoun.

Giselle99 Sat 05-Mar-11 15:35:23

Having grown up in the UK and 2 other countries - one of them being a country where a lot of premium is placed on a British education - the best known UK boys' schools in both countries were Eton and Harrow with everything else spoken about as though inferior to those two (including Westminster!). The equivalent for girls was definitely Cheltenham Ladies first and Roedean 2nd. The received wisdom there was you sent your bright kids to Eton and CLC and the not-so-bright ones to Harrow and Roedean. If you had children of different sexes and/or wanted co-ed, you sent them to Millfield or Malborough.

Day schools didn't feature at all for obvious reasons, and some very academic boarding schools like Wycombe Abbey for some reason haven't yet got the CLC-type name recognition. However when parents serious about sending their kids abroad do their research they usually decide based on other things like proximity to relatives, transport, fees and selectiveness, ending up sending them somewhere like Dauntseys in Devizes... but the ones above are usually on most people's wish-list.

KittyBigglesworth Sun 06-Mar-11 08:46:18

Cheltenham Ladies, Roedean, Benenden and West Heath are well known internationally.

I would say, with the advent of the internet and more particularly, Wikipedia, other girls' schools that would not have previously been known, are gaining greater awareness. For example, most people who are very interested in girls' education would have heard of St.Paul's but that awareness has broadened as a consequence of Rachel Weisz attending the school and people simply 'absorbing' the name of the school as they read her 'Wiki' entry or IMDB biog.

Royal connections certainly help boost the popularity of a school. Since Sophie Winkleman (big Suze in Peep Show) married Freddie Windsor, I have heard that applications have increased there. The fact that it has another pupil who went on to become a professor of English at Oxford probably helps too - it's never easy to determine the exact reason for a spike in demand.

I would be extremely surprised if applications for Marlborough did not surge from international interest as a consequence of Kate Middleton attending the school and parents across the world having easy access to knowledge of where she went to school. To their mind, they want their daughter to have the education of a princess too.

The alumni of a school (royal connections,prime ministers, actors, authors, singers, designers, entrepreneurs) make it desired and if they are deemed to be of a certain class then the school's status will increase by assocation. Its history, how it was established, the strength of its clubs, the number of Oxbridge applications and more superficially the price of the fees and even the architecture determine how 'posh' it is deemed to be. In the past, academic achievements may have mattered less, however parents are becoming more demanding and 'posh' without enough Russell Group and Oxbridge mascots is a concern.

To some, the day schools will never have the cache of the boarding schools that must have been attended by a member of the royal family to have real standing however increasingly, intellectual vigour combined with a few famous Oxbridge pupils give London day schools an attractive, gritty edge. Children now have greater say in where they want to spend their teenage years and they, along with their parents, do their own research. G&L, has been made 'cool' by Lily Cole and Kate Beckinsale, for example because they are attractive, intelligent and have a certain insouciance. Like attracts like -(or what people aspire to)

FloreatEtonia Sun 06-Mar-11 10:40:14

I can honestly say I have NEVER heard of West Heath! It is never mentioned by parents of daughters that I know who send their sons to Eton, Winchester, Radley, and the likes!

FloreatEtonia Sun 06-Mar-11 10:43:46

I have just googles West Heath and it is a school for girls with emotional problems/trauma. The motto is "Rebuilding damaged lives", so whilst I am sure it is a good school catering for fragile girls it's not in the same league as CLC, Benenden etc! hmm

StealthPolarBear Sun 06-Mar-11 10:48:04

"highly selective state schools
very good comprehensive schools
average comprehensive schools
and sink schools"

I have always wondered what is the difference between a state school and a comprehensive school? Does "state school" incorporate faith schools, whereas comp doesn't?

Toughasoldboots Sun 06-Mar-11 10:49:52

West Heath has been re-opened with this as it's purpose. It certainly did used to be considered in the same league, however it was closed for some time.

Toughasoldboots Sun 06-Mar-11 10:52:24

And sorry if it has already been mentioned as I haven't read whole thread but Princess Diana went to West Heath and I believe that some money was used from her foundation to fund the new school.

Giselle99 Sun 06-Mar-11 11:12:28

I too had never heard of West Heath - had to google it! The fact that it ran into financial difficulties and eventually closed despite the Diana links suggests it was never a major player. It was I imagine where rich people sent daughters not bright enough for even the less selective schools to prepare for finishing school and a life of marriage.

holymary Sun 06-Mar-11 14:59:02

Wycombe Abbey, Cheltenham Ladies

slipshodsibyl Sun 06-Mar-11 17:12:41

Cheltenham Ladies' and Wycombe Abbey.

KittyBigglesworth Mon 07-Mar-11 06:55:12

West Heath was well known but that was some years ago. I'd forgotten it had closed and been re-opened in another guise. Diana did go there however I was thinking more of Tilda Swinton who was also a past pupil and then went on to Fettes, then Oxford or Cambridge. With regard to Giselle99's comment about it being 'where rich people sent daughters not bright enough', I don't think A-levels and going to university was necessarily the prime aim of the school. Many of the schools that are viewed as 'posh' aren't top A-level league players. It's a mistake to assume that academic prowess confers 'poshness' or vice versa.

After Eton and Harrow, many overseas have also heard of Winchester, Stowe, Rugby, Ampleforth, Oundle, Sherborne, Sevenoaks, Charterhouse etc. Some are co-ed or accept girls in the sixth form.

yllit Tue 16-Aug-11 13:58:59

weird that nobody's mentioned st. swithun's or downe house. st. swithun's posh and top notch academically. fantastic athletic facilities as well. plus it's in winchester so does a lot with winchester college...

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