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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....

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

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.

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