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Public schools gurus - Eton?

(202 Posts)
carltonscroop Tue 24-May-11 19:23:37

This is more a fond dream than an actual plan. Yes, I've done some reading up, but wanted to ask any parents with recent(ish) first hand knowledge.

What's it really like? What sort of boy does it suit? Is it really worth the additional expense. (not the fees themselves IYSWIM but being at the high end - and on the same theme, are many things billed as extras) How hard is the scholarship exam? Has anything in particular surprised/pleased/disappointed you/your son/s?

Tortu Tue 24-May-11 19:30:00

Know somebody who works there, if that helps? Unsurprisingly, it sounds like a great school, from her stories....but you're right to check out the extras. Have a little look at the cost for them being sick.

MmeBlueberry Tue 24-May-11 21:18:19

It is a fantastic place. I wouldn't think twice if I could afford it.

happygardening Wed 25-May-11 01:27:58

Lots of children from my son's prep school go there and our head thinks very highly of it. I know quite a few who are there or have been all are charming and unassuming. All the parents I know dont have a bad thing to say about it. You need to be clever to get in but not as clever as you need to be for St Pauls/Winchester. But for the scholarship you need to be very very bright and in a prep school with the resources to prepare your child for it. Eton is also enourmously over subscribed.
Having said all of this I woudln't send my son there its a bit too perfect and what I can only describe as too obvious in what they offer. I felt that there was no room for the quirky intellectual child and that is also the general consensus of those who know it well and love it. Winchester in my opinion is preferable.
It does do bursaries and I beleive they can be generous.

happygardening Wed 25-May-11 01:29:27

P.S. I also cant stand the ridiculous uniform but plenty love it.

IndridCold Wed 25-May-11 08:53:27

We went to look round two years ago, on the advice of DSs headmaster and we were blown away. All our pre-conceptions were swept away. We were most impressed by how they focus so much on each individual boy.

They have amazing facilities and they like boys to get stuck in and really make use of everything the school has to offer, so I guess that self-confident boys would fare better there.

The fees are not that much more than other schools (proportionately speaking) but IMO the extra is definitely worth it.

I believe that the scholarship exam is incredibly difficult, all boys have to do an assessment. It is oversubscribed, but not by as much as some of the top grammars.

I would recommend a visit if you are thinking of it for your DS as it will give you a good idea of whether it would be right for him or not.

propatria Wed 25-May-11 09:28:16

The best advice I can give is to visit,do not be swayed by naysayers,thoughts of you arent Eton material,just visit without prejudice and I think youll be impressed.
It suits intelligent boys who want to try new things and make the most of what is available,Eton will find what inspires your son.

janinlondon Wed 25-May-11 09:58:05

The average A level score is 1026. While it is good, its not outstanding. I would guess the extras/ethos are what people are looking for?

Colleger Wed 25-May-11 10:00:00

Simply the best school in the world wink and my son is very intellectual and quirky. We opted against Winchester because I wanted my son to be around a mix of boys not just quirky ones as that is not real life. Not that any of these schools is real life! grin

If you're going to pay these fees then it may as well be at the school that has the best facilities and where no one says no when asked to come from a talk. They have ambassadors, very famous actors, famous sportsmen, top lawyers, prime ministers, ,CEO's, Heads of NACE and even Johnny Prescott - Rofl - who come on a weekly basis to give talks at the numerous societies. In my opinion it offers more than Oxbridge, except for a degree of course.

The scholarship is exceptionally difficult and the most competitive with more boys sitting it than at any other school. A boy needs to be a genius to get one.

Musically it cannot be beaten with teachers coming from the major conservatoires to teach the boys. I could go on, and on, and on.... grin

happygardening Wed 25-May-11 12:17:03

As I pointed out those who send there children there love it I dont know one parent who says anything bad about it!
When I looked at it there were three other parents from my sons school on the same visit, two of us came away knowing it wasn't for us our DS's are off to Winchester and Harrow and two loved it. One mother who loved it said that she "could see what she was buying into" which she couldn't at Winchester where she felt that there was too much variation between houses, teachers etc.
As already said go and look at it with an open mind and see if it suits you.

Colleger Wed 25-May-11 12:52:43

Of course it depends on the child. My choices were Eton and Winchester for boy1 and Eton and Harrow for boy2. That also helped us to make up our mind because the same school came up suiting both boys personalities. I think Winchester would have been the safe choice for boy1 and it is a lovely environment but a little inward-looking in my opinion and too liberal!

happygardening Wed 25-May-11 15:43:05

Ah maybe it the "liberal" that makes it so appealing!

peteneras Sun 29-May-11 18:03:19


OP asks many questions about this school and so I'm afraid the answers are going to be long.

What's it really like?
The school is to all intents and purposes an ordinary public school just like any other public school on the one hand, and yet it is pretty unique on the other, IYSWIM.

Ordinary public school:
Like most great schools, the fundamental objective of the school is to draw out and to develop to the fullest (and beyond) the potential of a boy so that he could confidently face the world in later life and hopefully makes a difference to it.

Uniqueness of the school:
A medieval school from the Middle Ages it has never forgotten its foundation principles e.g. some quirky ceremonies are still being practised today and yet its ultra modern facilities in learning support, both equipment and human, are second to none. It has a continuous programme to update all its facilities including new construction of buildings to add to its already massive stock. It’s the UK’s biggest public school and yet each of the more than 1300 boys has his own space in the privacy of his own room which is wired with technology to connect to the outside world. There are certain games which derived from the school such as the Wall Game, the Field Game and Eton Fives and therefore, are seldom played outside the legendary 'playing fields of Eton' from where the Duke of Wellington is famously quoted as saying the Battle of Waterloo was won.

What sort of boy does it suit?
Generally speaking, it suits an all-rounder with a high intelligence and who does not have a chip on his shoulder. The school does not particularly look for a super bright boy though it has within its enclosures many boys of this calibre. Listen to what the Head Master has to say about the boys.

Throughout its 570-year history, it maintains a special elite group, the 70 King’s Scholars (KS) – the core of its foundation - who generally speaking, set the pace academically for the school. There are also the Oppidan Scholars (OS - ordinary Etonians) who would give the King?s Scholars a run for their money on the academic front just as there are King’s Scholars who would embarrass the most sporty Oppidans on the sports field. For example, the winning Oxford boat team that beat Cambridge recently in their annual boat race had an ex-KS in its team. Aged only 19 and fresh from Eton, he’s one of the youngest oarsmen to have rowed successfully in an Oxbridge boat race – a budding Steve Redgrave/Matthew Pinsent in the making.

In reality, there’s room for all types of boys; the musicians, the artistes, the sportsmen, the academics and even the stragglers. There were a couple of boys from my DS’s ex prep school who against all odds made it to Eton. I met up with one of them recently and this young man is now a totally different character from his prep school days. I can see him in 30/35 years time wearing the uniform of Britain’s Chief of the Defence Staff. Another testimony to the school’s foresight in its selection procedures!

Is it really worth the additional expense. (not the fees themselves IYSWIM but being at the high end - and on the same theme, are many things billed as extras)
The school fee remains the single killer expense. This is a 5-figure (nett) amount that has to be paid every term unless you’re on a scholarship/bursary of which the school is renowned for its generosity. The other subsidiary expenses are really not an issue at all; no more expensive than (say) a boy who is living at home with his parents, unless he impossibly joins every single club/society/activity that the school has to offer and goes to every foreign trip.

Yes, one pays extra for music lessons and some other activities but don’t forget one does not have to take up any of these. The basic “extras” are for laundry (uniform is dry cleaned), outings with tutor/housemaster during weekends, subscriptions to periodicals and other miscellaneous items that one can have as many or as little as one wishes. Sportswear is usually purchased in the first year together with the uniform. On average, I would say anything between £500 and £1000 per half [term] – not including school fee, music lessons and foreign trips – is normal for an average Etonian. That’s more or less the same amount required had he stayed at home.

How hard is the scholarship exam?
Very hard but worth trying if the boy is very bright.

Has anything in particular surprised/pleased/disappointed you/your son/s?
My biggest surprise is to learn how very down to earth, humble, respectful and efficient the folks are at Eton right from Day 1 and throughout the years. Just randomly ring the school's any which department you want to make an enquiry to judge for yourself. Absolutely no disappointments at all. DS couldn't wait to go back to school after each holiday period.

Yellowstone Mon 30-May-11 16:54:37

To do the logically impossible and 'develop beyond the fullest potential' of a boy would really be quite a feat grin

As for the Duke of Wellington, he is famously - but incorrectly - quoted as saying 'the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton;' he loathed Eton, moreover Eton had no playing fields at the time.

peteneras Mon 30-May-11 21:40:46

You've got to admit the incalculable feats performed by this School is legendary no matter how much you dislike it.

". . quoted as saying 'the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton;' he loathed Eton."

We don't know for sure whether he loathed Eton or not, his brother seemed to love every inch of it. Even if he did, it's because of personal issues (apparently he was lonely) and not so much about the School. The bigger picture is that Eton educated him like it did countless great men and it was he who went on to win the Battle of Waterloo for England.

"moreover Eton had no playing fields at the time."

Are you sure? Don’t know what dodgy research you have done to say this, rather like the above I suppose.

The playing fields of Eton existed at least 3 centuries before the Duke of Wellington was even born! They are as old as the foundation itself referred to then as 'the playying mede' in 1468.

Yellowstone Mon 30-May-11 22:18:45

pete I have no reason to dislike Eton at all. Lots of the Etonians I know are very likeable indeed (lots are gits too). It doesn't happen to have been the school of choice for my family either historically or in the present generation, on either side, but that doesn't mean I don't like it, that would be crass. I've no reason to either like or dislike it and I've watched its profile change in recent years; all I would say is that it's not the most academic, but that's got it's own merits too.

I still wonder how even Eton with all of its vast resources can develop any boy beyond his full potential. Can you at least answer that? (I suspect not).

I'd got that they played the Wall Game etc. because they didn't have the money to expand at the time. Very happy to stand corrected, as always. Can't remember where I read about the Duke and his misery at Eton/ no fields. Some scholar, can't recall which.

wordfactory Tue 31-May-11 08:52:07

We looked around and liked suits a boy who is bright enough and wants to take full advantage of the other things on offer.

For us, termly boarding was the deciding factor. DS didn't want to. We didn't want him to...I still, in this day and age, cannot understand why schools insist on it.

Colleger Tue 31-May-11 20:12:11

I would argue the point that it is not the most academic. It may not be the most academically selective school but that does not mean it is not the most academic - not the same thing. I believe it to be the most academically enriching school in the country and it takes a very bright, driven boy to cope with Eton life.

Just sad I won't be there tomorrow... sad

Yellowstone Tue 31-May-11 22:25:42

Colleger would Eton want its boys to be 'driven'? Driven is bad. Not all Etonians are 'very bright' either. Many will be, but not all are, judged by other schools standards. And tbh, so what?

zeolite Tue 31-May-11 22:27:27

Yello, you're such a tease!

Perhaps the usual suspects should invest in a troll detector?
<<carltonscroop apologies if you're serious>>

Yellowstone Tue 31-May-11 22:30:19

zeolite I don't say anything which I can't back with evidence from RL.

Not sure if you're suggesting I'm a troll or not, but I'm certainly not!

Scholes34 Tue 31-May-11 22:30:21

I work in higher education. Eton boys are lovely and down to earth and certainly know how to write a good thank you note.

Yellowstone Tue 31-May-11 22:36:34

Well that must be worth £30K pa.

I just save the fees and forge the thank you's instead.

zeolite Tue 31-May-11 22:38:05

Yello, you're definitely not a troll, but this thread looks a bit like a wind up.

zeolite Tue 31-May-11 22:40:10

oh, and you're not one of the usual suspects either! smile

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