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Eton boarding houses

(44 Posts)
Wirral2013 Tue 17-Dec-13 13:08:37

Can anyone recommend good boarding houses at Eton College?

IndridCold Tue 17-Dec-13 14:46:21

What is your son like and what are his particular ares of interest?

Wirral2013 Tue 17-Dec-13 15:01:59

Academic but with an interest in drama and, to a certain degree, sport.

peteneras Tue 17-Dec-13 15:40:06

To a large extent Wirral2013, the question of so-called, good boarding houses at Eton College simply doesn’t exist. Given that the physical appearances of all the 25 Eton houses are unique to each other, but to all intents and purposes, “They are all the same”, at least according to my DS.

The exception, perhaps, is College which is the first and oldest house at Eton. Even that, Collegers are now housed mainly at the New Buildings which were the later additions to the original 5¾-century-old Eton architecture. It is also the only house located inside the main School! DS was at College and in his time he had many Oppidan friends scattered amongst the 24 oppidan houses that he visited often. I once asked him which house he thought was the best and he replied with the above answer.

Other than the scholars and bursary holders, all paying parents pay the same money at Eton and therefore, the facilities and services offered by the school are the same. Again, the exception here is the King’s Scholars who dine at College Hall with the standard of food served there the equivalent to that of a four or five-star hotel’s or better!

Instead of looking for a futile good boarding house at Eton, I would suggest it’s more practical looking for a suitable Housemaster and/or Deputy Housemaster (who could be more involved with your son than the busy Housemaster) that your son can really relate to and benefit from either by way of mutual interests in academic subjects, music, sports, etc.

Have a look at the following Housemasters/Deputy Housemasters and cross check what are their subject specialities that your son might work harmoniously with.

onebananatwobanana Tue 17-Dec-13 17:20:22

The house process is as follows: you can pick 2, they pick 2 (or you let them pick 4). you go and look at 4. you rank them in order, they rank the children they've met (leaving appropriate spaces in their houses for the summer crowd) - you hope for the best! Very little valuable information on the eton website about houses - I felt you only got to know the school when you started to meet housemasters, and then it becomes totally personal as to who you gel with. Everyone is different - the houses will all be good and as such most people find a house they are happy with.

My advice would be to spread your visits out. Your DC (and you) really are being interviewed by the HM and you all need to perform!! It is a competitive process (never stops does it?!). 2 in one day is the max.

You need to trust the HMs to put together a good, complementary year group - I have a DC a boarding school and for all the angst about getting a place, choosing a house, the one thing you can't control is sooo important - who will be the year group with your son. They will be the major influence for 5yrs.

I also think the major question in the back of your head should be - if something goes wrong, is this someone I can work with. You will have little day to day involvement with your DS, so you really need to trust the HM and Dame.

I generally agree with what Pete has said above.

IndridCold Tue 17-Dec-13 17:26:23

I largely agree with peteneras in fact, you will probably meet 3 or 4 housemasters and it would be astonishing if you didn't meet one you really liked. I think they give you a chance to choose two, but unless you have a good reason to select a particular house (i.e. older bother is already there, or some other family connection) they are all pretty similar and seem to have a good mix of boys.

I know that the housemasters of Keate and Hawtrey are due to leave soon (2016 and 2017 respectively) so make sure you would be meeting the incoming HM.

Wirral2013 Tue 17-Dec-13 21:32:33

Thanks everyone for the advice and I am aware of how important the housemaster is, and I have cross-referenced on Eton's site and used searches to find out more about the house masters, but there is very little out there in order to come to a balanced view about them.

I particularly appreciate Indrid's tip-off about the departure of certain HMs. That is the sort of stuff that allows a parent to make a savvy choice. Indrid, if you've got any more gems like that, please let me know! Thanks.

Indeed, onebanana, it never stops! I imagine the interviews with the HMs take place without the need to bring your child. In other words, the College knows the boy is alright, now they want to meet the parents! Am I right?

ZeroSomeFestiveGameThingy Tue 17-Dec-13 22:40:29

No Wirral you are completely wrong.... (Sorry.)

Interviews are primarily for the HM to choose the boys he wants in his house. It is assumed that family members will attend - but it is the boy who will be living in the house.

IndridCold Wed 18-Dec-13 08:29:05

Oh, I think the parents are definitely being checked out too and housemasters will avoid boys if Mummy looks 'high maintenance'! In fact I heard only last year about an Eton HM who wouldn't have boys who were the offspring of Russian billionaires or American single mothers.

Don't forget the Dames, they are an important factor too.

I would concur with onebanana that this will be your first chance to see what the real Eton is like, I also agree that ultimately the house your boy ends up in is more down to their choice than yours, but that doesn't mean that you won't end up with the one you like best.

Very well done to your DS BTW!

ZeroSomeFestiveGameThingy Wed 18-Dec-13 08:56:18

fgrin Indrid I'm sure parents are being checked out - what I was addressing was

! imagine the interviews with the HMs take place without the need to bring your child.

For all I know the OP may be on the other side of the world and I really didn't want her to make extensive arrangements to attend interviews - and arrive without the rather vital element of a boy.

I forgot to add congratulations Wirral - but do please take your son! Some HMs will arrange to spend part of the time talking to him away from his family.

IndridCold Wed 18-Dec-13 09:08:41

Oops, yes I did miss that comment! I think a HM would be more than a bit fconfused if parents turned up without their DS fgrin.

Two emoticons in one post - it must be Christmas!

Happypeeps11 Sat 18-Jan-14 20:43:07

Thanks for tips, in same situation as Wirral. So far we have encouraged DS to look at housemasters interests

Busyworkingmumof2 Thu 27-Mar-14 06:29:36

Does anyone have experience of not getting a house at all in the process and having to go in the 'pool'?

Michaelahpurple Thu 03-Apr-14 19:39:20

Busyworkingmum. I know of someone who didn't like the house they were allocated so rejected it and went into the pool. Happy with where they ended up. I don't know if they got rolled into the unmet house process or are allocated some names of housemasters who didn't full their winter places. Don't really see how the latter would work unless there were lots in the pool though. They were very happy with where they ended up but it did take lots of time.

IndridCold Fri 04-Apr-14 13:02:06

Not exactly the same situation, but my DS got in off the Wait List, so we were allocated a house later than most other people.

Busyworkingmumof2 Thu 10-Apr-14 07:45:01

That's helpful. Thank you.

4happyhours Fri 13-Jun-14 22:08:10

It's such a personal thing.
We had lived/worked there for 13y and DH ran a boarding house for 6y before departing for new challenges. We got it down to seven we'd be happy with, specified two we were really keen on, and the four we were allotted were all excellent as we knew they would be. We let DS whittle it down to two and agreed that we'd be happy with either. He really chose his eventual HsM, and it was in fact who we were favouring too.
Don't get hung up over catering or bekynton, or fabric of the buildings, it's all really about the man you feel you can talk to about anything as you may well need to do just that over the next five years!
Best of luck.

4happyhours Thu 19-Jun-14 20:17:13

Meant to add re pool; a HsM can leave space to pick up pooled boys by choice (as well as some having gaps by circumstance, withdrawals, college 'promotions') as some excellent boys slip through their choice or school choice of four, and also get promoted late. At least two of our house captains were previous B list boys who just really stepped up in their last year of prep. Like speed dating, the process of meeting four sometimes just doesn't gel, and we certainly picked up some super boys from the pool when DH was a new young HsM. Parents can be wary when you're new in, but that soon changes if your rep gets good, and you soon become oversubscribed and popular, until you're in your last few years when parents know they won't get all of you, but an unknown fellow. That can happen any time though as some HsMs go on to get headships and leave ...

Iulia68 Sun 26-Jul-15 19:23:31

So my DS got a place for Sep 17, with zero preparation, zero stress and close to zero expectations as I only had the idea of Eton in Dec 14!
As I understand, we are very unique - in the zero preparation arena at least- and is precisely this fact that makes me proud of DS.

He is clever, charming, in a good school with A results, very keen with his reptiles and a very good little tennis player ( truly talented if we are to believe his local coaches and the LTA national coaches).

Now, we need to choose a house!

I haven't been on the tour with him, haven't been to the exam with him, (too busy working) - I understand and believe too that it makes v little difference what we choose as he is also a very confident little boy who I believe will adjust almost anywhere - but would still like to hear from people who defo know more than we do about life at Eton.

Any advice?

IndridCold Mon 27-Jul-15 10:37:50

Hi, and well done to your DS!

You will be sent the names of 3 or 4 housemasters to go and see. I would wait until you have met some HMs before you start thinking too hard about who to choose. The whole Eton process is so smooth it really is pretty painless smile.

I'm sure they can add you to one of the school tours, if you want to do that too...

selly24 Mon 27-Jul-15 20:38:44

Iulia68 isn't Farrer known for Racket sports?

selly24 Mon 27-Jul-15 22:24:41


Iulia68 Sun 02-Aug-15 19:34:46

Hi Selly

Thanks, I wouldn't know but now you mentioned, I will certainly look into it.
Does anyone have any idea if they would be willing to help DS continue with his performance tennis?. I know they are big on water sports, and the usual rugby, cricket etc but less so with tennis.
It is a tough one, I know ..


Gruach Mon 03-Aug-15 10:49:56

I suggest you phone the school lulia. They're very helpful.

I also think you should try to do the school tour if you have time. (I have no idea of the house choosing timetable for spring pretests.) It does provide a helpful overview of the school structure; the various departments, the sort of room your son might have and, most importantly, clear information from admissions staff about what life will be like for boys once they start.

Btw I don't know anyone who undertook any special preparation for the pre-test so you're definitely not alone in that. Not sure what a school could do other than making sure the right boys apply; that they understand the whole application process and have a practice interview. (As I understand it the only boys who experienced any undue stress were those with a family "tradition" and horrifically anxious parents.)

grovel Mon 03-Aug-15 12:26:34

I think you'll find Eton tennis is taken pretty seriously for the elite in each age group. Just found this on the web:

"Hi, my name is Jason Harrison and I am the Head Tennis Professional at Eton College. I have been co-ordinating the tennis coaching programme at the college since 2005. We have a wide range of playing standard at the school. The coaches teach beginners right through to the performance players who attend the Elite Squad with me on a daily basis.

My qualifications are as follows: LTA CCA, USPTA Pro One and RPT International Professional. I have been coaching full time since 1994.

I have an amazing team of 5 tennis coaches throughout the year that are all LTA, RPT or USPTA qualified. They are also fully licensed and CRB checked. During the Summer Half we expand to 7 coaches to assist the high number of boys wanting to improve their game and become better players."

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