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Eton - an interesting article

(243 Posts)
Draylon Mon 07-Nov-16 19:48:56

The Economist Mag

I want to make it clear I'm not trying to stir anything up here; merely posting what I thought was an interesting and thoughtful article about how Eton 'works'. Me and mine could not be more 'comp' grin!

If you are a MNetter who gets wound up by this, please tell MNTowers so they can put a <sensitive> <trigger warning> in the title wink grin

Draylon Mon 07-Nov-16 19:49:36

PS loved the opening image- lots of floppy hair going on there! grin

Out2pasture Tue 08-Nov-16 03:17:49

Most common name is Patel, sounds like an economically and culturally diverse intake....not

jeanne16 Tue 08-Nov-16 08:57:08

Interesting article. The most common surname being Patel just shows how the Asian community will do anything to support their children's education. I am sure there are families making big financial sacrifices to afford the fees. They are rewarded with high achieving children.

AnotherNewt Tue 08-Nov-16 09:07:38

Eton has always been racially diverse.

Loads of the internationally rich, princelings and the like.

Parietal Tue 08-Nov-16 09:16:33

interesting indeed

i wonder if the same changes apply to other trad public schools.

AnotherNewt Tue 08-Nov-16 09:31:21

If you mean needs blind admissions, yes, lots of them are striving for it. But not being as rich as Eton in the first place (nothing like well-kempt assets since 1440!) they are perhaps making slower progress.

And if not full boarding, they won't be forming the same new global elite that was mentioned towards the end of the article.

But doing all those 'add ons' (which may well be extras on the bill) happens in many of them, as does the continual striving to make every pupil the best they can be. I don't think private schools are particularly different from state schools in having that attitude, but many (especially the older ones) are significantly better placed to to offer actual stuff (expeditions, specialist events, facilities, consumables) that makes it happen.

MrsBernardBlack Tue 08-Nov-16 13:16:55

DS is in his final year at Eton, and when I read this article, when it first came out, I wasn't very impressed by it TBH, and didn’t feel that it at all reflected the school we have come to know. On re-reading it there are actually some quite good points, but I think that he hasn’t got to the true heart of the school, and how it educates the boys.

He also gives quite an inaccurate feel of the 'demographics' of the school. You certainly see quite a diverse range of boys around, but Patel is not the most popular name in the school, in fact, last academic year there wasn't a single pupil called Patel, and the writer could have found that out very easily. Foreign born boys are also not quite as ubiquitous as would seem from this article, I believe that only about 10% come from overseas. They are also working quite hard to make sure that the boys from middle income families, like the country solicitors and vicars, can access some assistance so as not to be priced out, and keep a good mix of backgrounds in the school.

Newt is right about the advantages that Eton has in attracting more money, and the influence of powerful people, to encourage and inform the boys. Not only do they have the whole pool of OEs, they can invite almost anyone to come and talk and they will. Both Grayson Perry and Elton John came to talk at society meetings last year, and by all accounts gave incredibly powerful presentations. Not forgetting the infamous meeting with Putin too. Other schools may not always be able to attract these big names, but there are many influential people who talk of needing to improve social mobility – they should be willing to visit schools around the country to talk to pupils, to hold themselves up as role models and help educate them about the big world out there.

peteneras Tue 08-Nov-16 13:26:53

”A recent parent described his surprise at finding out that the commonest name at the school was Patel.”

Surely, de Bellaigue (or the recent parent) is grossly exaggerating here unless he’s talking about the Eton of India!

Given that Eton today is much diversified, it is the School’s policy to have no more than 10 percent of “foreigners” in order to maintain its status as an ‘English boarding school’.

From the latest roll that I have, albeit going back three years, Patels are almost non-existent at the school . . . OK, barring one solitary individual from a total of 1315 boys. I don’t believe Eton is suddenly flooded with Patels in the last 3 years . . .

noblegiraffe Tue 08-Nov-16 13:39:37

The article made me feel sick, to be honest. Incredible wealth and privilege trying to justify itself by portraying itself as a school of the people. FFS of course some poor white kid from the north east isn't going to go to Eton, and even if one does, what about the poor sods left behind? How does Eton help them when it produces Prime Ministers and Chancellors who shit all over the poor?

peteneras Tue 08-Nov-16 13:45:51

And what makes you think Eton needs to "justify" itself, never mind about taking responsibilities for the poor sods left behind from the North East?

noblegiraffe Tue 08-Nov-16 13:53:29

One of Simon Henderson’s first decisions after taking over last summer as headmaster of Eton College was to move his office out of the labyrinthine, late-medieval centre of the school and into a corporate bunker that has been appended (“insensitively”, as an architectural historian might say) to a Victorian teaching block. Here, in classless, optimistic tones, Henderson lays out a vision of a formerly Olympian institution becoming a mirror of modern society, diversifying its intake so that anyone “from a poor boy at a primary school in the north of England to one from a great fee-paying prep school in the south” can aspire to be educated there (so long as he’s a he, of course)

MrsBernardBlack Tue 08-Nov-16 14:00:12

Eton is not trying to be a school for the people, it is unashamedly elitist. It is merely trying to encourage boys from poorer backgrounds to not be put off, and apply.

Apologies for Daily Fail link.

notanetter Tue 08-Nov-16 14:02:53

but there are many influential people who talk of needing to improve social mobility – they should be willing to visit schools around the country to talk to pupils, to hold themselves up as role models and help educate them about the big world out there.

They do

MrsBernardBlack Tue 08-Nov-16 14:29:36

That looks an excellent site not, I had never heard of it before.

peteneras Tue 08-Nov-16 14:32:55

OK, so the new Head Master of Eton, Simon Henderson, has decided to move his office - all within the buildings of 15th Century vintage. This is no more different from Gordon Brown deciding to move to No.11 Downing Street instead of No.10 when he became Prime Minister. In what way is all this moving about impacting on the responsibilities of their work is beyond my comprehension.

In any case, Simon Henderson is doing no more than continuing the modern charitable work begun by his predecessors going back almost half a century with Michael McCrum. The foundation of Eton itself is built with charity in mind!

Eton2017 Tue 08-Nov-16 14:33:12

Eton [...] produces Prime Ministers and Chancellors
What kind of Chancellor did you have in mind, noble? The last Etonian Chancellor of the Exchequer left office in 1960, and there are (at least) two other schools that have each produced two since then...

happygardening Tue 08-Nov-16 14:40:11

"FFS of course some poor kid from the north east is not going to go to Eton"
Why not? Eton, my DH's old school, my DS2's school and a few other big names who are very wealthy are all trying hard to broaden their intake, and provide boys with an exceptional education regardless of background. In the case of my DH's old school and DS2's school this after all is what they were founded to do, I'm no Eton historian but suspect that this applies to it as well. So they are moving/moved too a needs blind admission policy any boy can apply regardless of where he lives.
A friend used to have a poster on her bedroom wall "Limits only exist in your mind" or perhaps in the minds of noblegiraffe and others.

happygardening Tue 08-Nov-16 14:42:18

And does it really matter where Simon Henderson has his office? God he,p us I do hope parents aren't basing their choice of school on the head masters office.

noblegiraffe Tue 08-Nov-16 14:43:11

Those other schools are presumably stuffed with the over privileged too?

peteneras Tue 08-Nov-16 14:43:16

Yes, but the difference, MrsBB, is that at Eton, boys themselves invite the speakers they wish to have to come to the school for talks with absolutely no input from the adults.

noblegiraffe Tue 08-Nov-16 14:47:35

Seriously? I need to explain why a poor kid from the North East isn't going to go to Eton?

All the debate that has been going on about why poor kids don't get into grammars which are just down the road from them are going to apply a billion times over to an insanely selective elite boarding institution hundreds of miles away.

happygardening Tue 08-Nov-16 14:50:47

noblegiraffe What do you mean by over privileged (a genuine question)? Where would you like them to go to school?
Its inevitable that schools charging £36k+ a year will have many children from "privileged" backgrounds, but not all will be. Just shy of 20% of Winchesters pupils are reveiving financial support, that's a healthy number and it's increasing year on year.

happygardening Tue 08-Nov-16 14:57:37

noble as the poster says I said limits only exist in your mind.
Eton et al is selective and entry is very competitive but I understand you can't tutor for their 11+ pre test, this I understand doesn't apply to grammar school test. Christs Hospital is also selective, has a needs blind admission policy, is full boarding, it has a ridiculous outdated uniform and I understand is very oversubscribed with many children coming from very disadvantaged backgrounds from far and wide. If they can do it why can't Eton et al.

noblegiraffe Tue 08-Nov-16 15:03:00

Overprivileged = having more than anyone could possibly ever need, and then having more advantage piled on top.

They can go to school in diamond classrooms if they like, but handing out a few golden tickets to some kids who are the right sort but don't quite cut the mustard on the money front (gosh, the person in the article reports that you couldn't even tell who the poor kids are which suggests they're quite different to the poor kids I encounter at my state school) more virtue signalling than anything else.

And I suspect that quite a few of those on financial assistance to pay £36k fees aren't in any way poor.

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