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Should I consider Eton for bright, sporty, musical, but also quite sensitive dyslexic?

(24 Posts)
Allaquandry Wed 16-Jan-13 13:20:37

Am not too far from the 10.6 cut-off point and wondering whether to visit the school or simply not bother... Would appreciate any informed views from other MNers.

DS is very sporty (exceptionally good in rugby. Also likes rowing, fencing and a few other random sports). he is also quite musical but not scholarship level or anything like that. IQ of 128. But he has very slow processing speed (bottom 10% of population) hence dyslexia assessment. He also has sensory processing disorder which makes him quite tactile and quite clumsy. Personality-wise, he is a bit 'sensitive' in that although he gets as involved in rough & tumble as others, it's not really 'him' and he's a complete softy at heart. He's very popular both within his year and with those in his school house.

I'm not convinced he'll even be ready to fully board at 13 (he will be trying it out in due course in current school) so it may all be an academic point anyway, but do those with Eton knowledge think I should definitely be investigating Eton as an option, or definitely ruling it out?

Academically he is very on the money in debates and class discussions but has low self-esteem when it comes to getting things down on paper. He is top set maths, bottom set English, and fine across the board for most other stuff (exams are obv a struggle). Within the next year or so he will be fluent in touch typing, which his ed psych and SENCO think will really help reduce the effects of his dyslexia in day to day life. But I imagine he may still need an element of support into senior school.

His current school is a very good one, but is a natural feeder to another 'top' school, and I am not convinced I will get the best advice from the headmaster (I think he will try to persuade us to progress into the associated school because DS is one of those kids that you'd call 'a credit to the school'. Personally I think the associated school is too competitive and has less pastoral care than I'd like to see - whilst DS has no problem with pressure, or hard work, or intense training, he's not one to compete with others and hates rankings and suchlike.


Hullygully Wed 16-Jan-13 13:21:34


And give me half the money I've just saved you.

bamboozled Wed 16-Jan-13 13:24:55

If he's sensitive and you are keen for him board, would flexi boarding or weekly boarding not be better?
Whereabouts are you? Are you considering Eton as its a family thing or for another reason?

Allaquandry Wed 16-Jan-13 13:50:57

We have no strong connections to Eton (although the school DS is currently destined for has a number of links to Eton going way back). I'm not focused on Eton so much so much i am aware that if we did want DS to be considered, we'd have to put an application in quite soon, and I don't want to slam the door on it without at least considering it.

We will almost certainly do flexi boarding if we choose another school (and may move if necc - we are flexible within Home Counties).

grovel Wed 16-Jan-13 14:11:21

From the Eton website:

"The school has a well-established department, the Learning Centre, for boys with special educational needs or specific learning difficulties, for example dyslexia and dyspraxia. The Learning Centre is staffed by the Head of the Learning Centre and two part-time teachers, all of whom have specialist experience and qualifications. The Head of the Learning Centre is the school's Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo).

At present about 4% of the boys in the school receive such assistance, which continues for as long as they need it. A high degree of success is achieved in ensuring that they can do full justice to their abilities."

That's about 50 boys. I'd call the Learning Centre (or the Admissions Office) and talk to them.

bamboozled Wed 16-Jan-13 14:31:39

I think that is pretty standard bumf for a learning support dept in a public school...if you were speaking to them, ask their policy on how they timetable the learning support lessons as this speaks volumes as to how integrated it is in within a school ... Eg, if having to miss sport sessions, or all their break times etc, this can really impact on how a child settles in at a new school...

Also, I'm not so sure if its good to go to a school that you'll always be in the lower sets in, when it you chose a slight less academic/pushy school, he would be in higher sets etc - leading to greater confidence etc... Tonbridge, Millfield, Winchester etc - still 'named schools, very sporty and with great results'

Eton is likely to either be a help or a hindrance, depending on what uni/sector/circles he mixes in afterwards... You will always have those that thing that Eton is THE place and those that think it turns out wankers.... And if he's a sensitive soul, how will he deal with that...

bamboozled Wed 16-Jan-13 14:33:03

Probably as hard to get into those schools too, just slightly less 'Eton'y.

happygardening Wed 16-Jan-13 14:55:52

I have a DS (1) also with very poor processing and a almost identical IQ I personally would send my DS to Eton or anywhere else that is similar. We've found that as the requirements of the curriculum become more complex basically from yr 11 upwards that those with processing disorders find it quite a struggle.
The academic expectations at Eton and others similar are high and the pace fast I know now that if we'd gone down that road (DS2 is at Winchester and and we looked at a variety of options for DS1) my DS would be really struggling now.
You also mention your DS is sensitive I am not always convinced that the very sensitive thrive in a boarding environment especially a full boarding environment.
Do PM me if you wish too.

JoanByers Wed 16-Jan-13 15:19:37

Absolutely not.

I mentioned Eton, en passant, to the Ed Psych who was assessing my son (ASD), and she said she was treating a boy, I can't remember if it was dyslexia or dyspraxia, but I think the former, and she said she was finding it very hard to cope with the macho environment. She said 'Don't even consider it'.

My son is also top set maths, bottom set English; the Ed Psych refused to give an overall IQ because she said it was meaningless because he has a different spread of abilities ranging from around 100 to 155 in IQ terms.

Bamboozled I don't know anything about Milfield, but I don't think a boy would be in a higher set at Tonbridge or WInchester than at Eton. I get the impression Tonbridge is quite macho/sporty too.

Apparently if you go to Tonbridge you can look like this: grin

Is your son in Y6 or Y5 currently. If he is in Y6 there aren't that many options still open. If in Y5 you need to start looking at schools now, day schools I would suggest, because there isn't much time in Y6.

happygardening Wed 16-Jan-13 15:59:33

"chose a slight less academic/pushy school, he would be in higher sets etc. - leading to greater confidence etc... Tonbridge, Millfield, Winchester etc. - still 'named schools, very sporty and with great results"
Winchester is exceedingly selective and pushy (probably more so than Eton, certainly when talking to friends with DC's at Eton is doesn’t seem as pushy as Winchester) and there is a real A* culture/expectation also only the much harder Pre U in the 6th form, I agree not bustingly sporty although lots of sports are offered. It does have a reputation for taking boys with dyslexia etc but your DS would have to be a self-starter difficult with a processing problem IME. If you DS is in yr 6 he's probably too late anyway to register. Tonbridge is also pretty academic head used to be deputy at St Pauls and it has a very similar ethos and I think again your too late registering him for Tonbridge as well.

Allaquandry Wed 16-Jan-13 16:11:28

Thanks for comments. Aside from Eton, we have plenty of time.

Tonbridge has been recommended to us as an option by DS' SENCO, so interesting to see that coming up here as well. Also interesting to hear other people's experience.

The website quote of 4% was a real surprise to me. Given their emphasis on 'choosing the boys without a set criteria other than bright and interesting' (at least that's what I've assumed), I would have expected the level of quirkiness to have been far higher than average, with a correspondingly higher proportion of diagnosed special needs. DS's current school has a much higher % and still struggles to integrate support into the main timetable, so I can imagine exactly what bamboozled mentioned - DS has always hated losing 'fun' activities in order to go and do supported learning (not that he's ever complained about missing Art...), so I am we'll aware of the impact.

Am thinking I can now cross Eton off my list.

bamboozled Wed 16-Jan-13 16:57:18

As I said - prob as hard to get into those other schools... Wasn't meaning to diss the other ones at all.
I've got girls so am not hot on the subtleties of boys public schools - but know that as dd1, year 7, is dyslexic, it's more about finding the school that she can shine at, rather than the 'named' school she will struggle at, that will also support her super bright younger sister. We are pretty lucky, in Sussex so some great schools around without the need to board, but that she can do so at later on if she wants to [when I'm driving her mad] ...

bamboozled Wed 16-Jan-13 17:03:43

Sorry for the multiple random posts - am flat on my back in bed and maxed out on cocodamol and diazapem as have done something hideous to my back so am not at my most coherent! What i didn't say is that we are going co-ed, as I think it just dilutes everything a bit - not too much macho maleness and less girls bitchyness...

ponydilemma Thu 17-Jan-13 10:31:23

God no! I have a dd who is somewhere on the spectrum and her non-selective, pastorally rich school has been the making of her. it may not be as whizzy and smart as some other girl's private schools but I can honestly say they have got the best out of her and some. She's doing very well, has help when she's struggling and can do absolutely tons of sport which she excels at. She'd struggle to board as she needs her home routines so we are lucky that it is 50% day. Boarding would be hellish for her although she has done the odd night flexi boarding.

happygardening Thu 17-Jan-13 11:23:41

I think boarding and academic pressure are two seperate issues that the OP needs to consider. Boarding by its nature is usually very structured and the routine doesn't change much breakfast same time most days prep in most schools is at the same time etc so dyslexics and those with processing problems may find this routine and structure very helpful once they've sussed it out. IME as the curriculum gets more complex then those with processing problems struggle and they need significant extra input if they are going to succeed and can become anxious if they are struggling to understand what is required of them Ive certainly found that DS1 does not need extra pressure to perform as well. When you seriously struggle to process work you also IME need lots of down time because you have to work much harder than everyone else just to generate even work of average quality boarders are often expected to busy and privacy can be at a premium which may conflict with the need for downtime. Don't get me wrong I'm a great advocate of boarding but for children with significant processing disorders a school whether it he state or independent boarding or day needs to be chosen with extra care. High standards of pastoral care most importantly if at a boarding school a HM and tutor who genuinely understands what "poor processing" means are essential because a child with this profile will need lots of support through his school life. It is a genuine disability but of course invisible and leads too lots of frustration on the part of the sufferer and those who know them.

Copthallresident Thu 17-Jan-13 17:23:37

I would worry about that 4% figure. The London selective day schools all seem to find they have around 10% of pupils with SpLDs, certainly Lady Eleanor Holles, Hampton, Kings College School, often diagnosed after they have started there. That makes sense if they are recruiting on ability and potential as the proportion of the population with SpLDs is 10% at all levels of ability. So one way or another they are either discriminating against or not identifying some able pupils with SpLDs which doesn't suggest a positive environment .

Having said that DDs are both moderately to severely dyslexic and academically thrived at a superselective girls' school even though we didn't always feel the school was brilliant in supporting them. They intellectual stimulation did keep them motivated to deal with the slog of coping with their memory and processing problems. DD2 did find dealing with a bunch of "strong characters" in her year all the more difficult for being dyslexic, never having that clever quip ready until 5 mins after the moment has passed! She is now doing sixth form somewhere where she is not only in a more normal (coed) social environment, but is being treated as more of an individual in terms of her academic potential, instead of being measured against exam performance which tended to add to her anxiety about exams, and I can see that her confidence is growing.

Allaquandry Thu 17-Jan-13 21:55:26

I managed to lose a huge reply which probably not a bad thing as I am known for being rather mind-numbingly boring verbose.

I agree that 4% makes no sense at all. Wonder if Eton themselves have ever explored that number - it's very odd I think given that boys at Eton are probably at the extreme of certain bell curves to start with..

Boarding-wise, we will suck it and see. DS has an excessively competitive/confident/bright younger sister, so I can see some advantages to keeping them slightly at arms length, I can definitely see the advantages of co-ed if we go down that route...

Thanks everyone for your comments. Bamboozled - enjoy your diazepam haze, get better soon.

Mutteroo Thu 17-Jan-13 23:40:24

No experience of Eton other than a lad in my son's prep school gained a scholarship & turned it down, but I have plenty of experience of bright, DCs with dyslexia & severe processing issues! DS opted to weekly board at 13 whereas DD was never interested in boarding. DS is now living back at home & attending sixth form college & Happy gardening is so correct about how the curriculum becomes harder to access the higher up the school you go.

Look at schools where your son can shine & not get lost in the mix. Anyone who has seen my old posts know we picked a non selective school (actually he picked it) & far from him not achieving great things, he positively flew. I wouldn't be put off by Eton's low LS numbers & its worth looking at as you may kick yourself if you don't. Also don't presume your son's current HT will say you should select the attached senior school? DS's school was one of the two recommended by his prep HT not knowing DS had practically decided on it already.

Take your time & find the best option for your child that you can.

peteneras Fri 18-Jan-13 09:19:15

Allaquandry, I was OK with everything you wrote until literally the final line when you say, “he's not one to compete with others and hates rankings and suchlike”.

But Eton is mightily competitive! It’s in the DNA of the School. Boys will compete fairly and squarely for everything - often from the most unexpected quarters and even from lower blocks (younger years) for the same prize. And almost everything is being ranked - even to the room you are allocated each year.

This will either work for or against someone like your son. A competitive boy will thrive under such constant challenge and be always on his toes whilst a non-competitive boy may be spurred to finally come out from his cocoon and compete or just simply lay down and be forgotten. A good example is this chap who was not keen in competing for anything but once he decided to prove his Eton masters wrong in their assessment of him, he went on to be a world beater in the very subject they said he was hopeless in.

bamboozled Fri 18-Jan-13 09:28:42

Allaquandry - thank you - coming back to the land of the living slowly, before we all die of scurvy - DH could take your appendix out with his eyes shut - but his idea of a healthy meal for us all was spaghetti hoops with grated cheese to glam it up....
We have the same, a gloriously lovely older child, bright but processing issues and the spelling abilities of our black lab, followed 16 months later by the pesky but equally lovely sister who can do anything (for now, I'm not assuming it will continue by all means) - uber driven and up for anything... Her conversations go along the lines of - 'perhaps if I translate my poem I'm trying to learn for lamda into French and then back again, it would help me learn it better' - aged 10...
It's difficult to know whether it's better to send them to the same school
- I came from a big family and loved knowing I had 'back up' at school - even if we ignored each other on the premises - or if it's better to send to separate schools so that there is no assumption that either child will follow a pattern. I'd be really interested if anyone has any experience of this

maisiejoe123 Fri 18-Jan-13 12:51:58

I have 2 DS's - one at a prep and one in his GCSE year at well known boarding school. I would strongly agree with Peteneras. Everything is competitive and I did smile at the comment about the rooms. My DS's last bedroom was in the corner and much quieter than the others. I thought that was a great advantage - he didnt and couldnt wait to move to the main area!

My DS school struggles with SN's. It doesnt say so, however their way of dealing with it is to train ALL of their teachers. In a highly competive school people who need some extra help can often get forgotton. Remember these schools love their league tables and where they are in it!

If your willing to PAY for extra lessons of course they will assist but when your son has to say that he cannot play rugby because he has an a lesson with the Special Needs dept watch out for some issues with the other boys. Also DS has a number of friends who went to Eton. It is very competitive and you largely look after yourself. it is spread across a number of buildings and it is not for the shy or retiring.

The Good School's Guide has a special section on SN's. well worth subscribing online (the book is very expensive!)

Copthallresident Fri 18-Jan-13 13:01:23

allequandry If it is true that Etonian is such a ratrace It would explain the 4% since no parent would place a child with a SpLD in such an empathy free environment. I'd speak to the admissions people though , the school ethos could be in the eye of the beholder IYSWIM

bamboozled We have the opposite relationship , with DD1 being the overachiever. They are so different that teachers have actually assumed they could not be related in spite of their unusual surname! DD2 has always felt in her shadow, though we have never knowingly done anything but value both for their strengths and DD2 is more talented in many of her own ways , been on the west end stage etc . She was desperate to get into the same school though I felt the school she is now at was a better fit. However I also felt you go against an 11 year old's personal ambition at your peril. It. Is slightly unfair to say I feel my instincts vindicated since DD2's year was by the school's admission the worst cohort they had ever had in terms of some very difficult characters and their behaviour. 25 % of the year left after Gcses . In fact DD1 did attempt to cover DD2s back but the madams bullied peers, older girls and staff alike!! However with two such different DDs I do think having their own schools would have given them more space to develop their own identities. I should add that they used to argue spectacularly and only now with DD1 at uni are they developing a sisterly relationship, providing I search DD1s luggage to make sure DD2s clothes are not all smuggled out of the house wink I think when it comes to it and you look at schools it will be clear if one size fits all, but I would advise you trust your instincts.

BadLad Mon 21-Jan-13 06:01:02

If he hates rankings, then definitely do not consider Eton, especially if he also hates exams. Every so often after the exams the boys are ranked from 1 to 250ish in their overall exam performance, and it can be absolutely devastating to get a low score.

When I was there, the scores were read out to all 250 in a year sitting together in my first year, although that stopped. I still remember the name of the boy who was last (and therefore read out first). It absolutely gutted him.

In my house, that was how choice of rooms was allocated - the best at exams got the first choice at the end of the summer term.

Eton seems to go out of its way to make exams, which they call(ed) trials, as stressful as possible.

Questingvole Mon 18-Nov-13 13:54:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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