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Public schools

(36 Posts)
AmandaHuggankiss Sun 30-Sep-12 19:25:12

DS has been at day prep school, we were thinking of a day senior school, but before we commit to that, I wanted to check out some of the real public schools (Eton, etc.) for full boarding at 13.

He is quite outgoing, likes the company of others, computer games, etc, but is not sporty. He benefits from structure, rules and routine, rather than somewhere liberal and self-motivating.

Any thoughts on which of the top public schools might be a good fit?

malinois Sun 07-Oct-12 19:13:49

If he's good at climbing and wants to pursue it then surely somewhere near a climbing area (not Eton or Winchester then...) and with an active climbing club would be a good bet?

If he's really interested in climbing as a sport he needs to be climbing or bouldering at least 4 times a week, a bare minimum of one session of which should be on real rock rather than an indoor wall.

IndridCold Sun 07-Oct-12 19:04:55

amber2 you might find this article about slow, non-hothousing education interesting. One of the authors is an Eton housemaster.

grovel Tue 02-Oct-12 14:26:14

amber2, I could not agree more.

Eton, happily, do not obsess about exams. Their view is that if they get able boys and teach them in a way which engages them then good results will just happen. Of course it's easier to take that approach if a school is selective.

amber2 Tue 02-Oct-12 12:39:57


Sounds like a good test - one you can't prepare for with hundreds of hours of special coaching ...wish the others were like that ...I would not want for DS to go somewhere where he would struggle to keep up or was in the bottom sets ... I think the system for selective entry (be it grammar schools or indy VR/NVR pre-tests) we have in the UK is crazy ..and takes little account of development over the next 2/years means so many feel forced to get tuition to the test (11+) etc. which has little to do with real education...or enhancing curiosity of learning which should be what years 4 and 5 are about. I feel like I am getting sucked into the system myself even by doing some DIY practice with DS at home but I kind of resent it - would rather he just stick to reading about what interests him outside the curriculum eg astronomy, than doing Bond 11+ practice tests. I read somewhere recently that the ages of 9 and 68 were remembered by most people (not a scientific survey) as the most care free in their lives....I wonder if current 9 year olds will rembember it that way when they grow up..

grovel Tue 02-Oct-12 10:32:53

The Eton test was designed (by Durham University) in such a way that tutoring would be futile. When my DS took it, the master in charge told parents that he hoped the boys would come out saying that it was "quite fun and quite hard". He also hoped they wouldn't be able to remember any of the material in detail. He was spot on.
Eton are not just looking for the cleverest. The interview counts too. The test is to establish that the boys will be able to keep up. The interview is about whether they will take advantage of everything Eton has to offer.

IndridCold Tue 02-Oct-12 08:46:29

happygardening yes, I think you are right. I just didn't want people to be put off going because other parents didn't like it.

dapplegrey Mon 01-Oct-12 21:22:52

We thought the open day was great. We were given a thorough tour of the place and the lady showing us round was charming and helpful.
Anyway, our ds went there and it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

happygardening Mon 01-Oct-12 21:21:00

Indrid maybe that's the point if you love the open afternoon/guided tour then it's the right school for you and your DS.

IndridCold Mon 01-Oct-12 20:45:52

Yes, I keep reading this on MN but this was not our experience. DS, DH and I all came away loving Eton smile.

happygardening Mon 01-Oct-12 19:03:03

The open day is famous for being pretty awful even those who are big fans of Eton will tell you this! Some friends of ours had sent their oldest DS there and when they took their youngest round some 6 years later said they have wouldn't bothered to even register him if they didn't already know from personal experience what a fantastic school it is. When I went round with four other parents from my DS's prep only one came away wanting to send their DS the the rest of us thought it was ghastly and opted for Winchester Harrow etc. Apparently if you can attend a school function you will get a better feel for it.

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 18:46:14


thanks for that - I have replied to your PM. Good advice...You've made me rethink and I may take him to teh Open Day after all ...I just wanted to see what I thought of Eton myself first but you are right ...if he does not take to it then I will have saved myself the registration fee and the trouble..on the other hand it may motivate him to try hard to get there

IndridCold Mon 01-Oct-12 18:23:12

amber2 I have PMd you, but just wanted to add that I would take your DS to the open day. For a start, he may hate it and then you won't need to worry about it any more grin.

When we first went we had a tour of the school by the wife on one of the Housemasters, then the boys went off for tea with some present pupils and the parents had a presentation and Q&A with the Admissions Tutor.

happygardening Mon 01-Oct-12 18:17:58

"but it must be nice if you are a parent whose DS is a dead cert for somewhere like Eton or Winchester"
There is no such a boy who us a dead cert for either of these. Eton in particular which doesn't really limit the number of applicant has I understand at least 6 applicants for every place, Winchester does limit the number of applicants and has 3 for every place. More and more children are also applying from abroad so the competition for places is becoming increasingly fierce. Certainly at Eton having brothers already there does not swing it at all.
We know many who tried for Eton who appeared on paper to be perfect for it who didn't get it! The interview at Eton is very short so you dont have long to shine. In contrast the interview at Winchester is long and you do have time to shine but if your interests are very rehearsed and shall we say superficial or not genuine you will be found out!

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 17:05:30

No Mozart here either, but we did see his first Shakespeare play, Taming of the Shrew at the GLobe recently which was excellent and DS's main conclusion was he did not realize Shakespeare was so rude!

AmandaHuggankiss Mon 01-Oct-12 16:52:01

TBH we are quite 'lazy' parents and haven't gone out to expose him to Mozart or Shakespeare, but he chooses to spend his time reading, that is when he's not watching TV....

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 16:45:51

thanks for that insight...yes, I am trying to avoid getting into the tutoring "arms race" so that is encouraging ! Will just continue to encourage DS to read, read and read !

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 16:43:05


Yes I found Eton admissions office very helpful too, and will be going to an Open Day (not sure whether to take DS or not). I also am not going to get too carried away either - DS is excellent at mental maths etc. but whether he will sail as easily through a general IQ test, I have no idea as he has never done one to my knowledge...but it must be nice if you are a parent whose DS is a dead cert for somewhere like Eton or Winchester ! Mine is less predictable but has potential. At some point, you have to say, it's up to DCs to succeed or not...mine has more books in the house than we have space for...we get subscriptions to all sorts of magazines, go to art galleries, thaetre and museums so I feel he has all the opportunity...but at teh end of the day having the motivation and the smarts is really down to him.

I have a good friend with two very different DSs - one extremely academic, self- motivated and ambitious at a superselective - who probably thinks he can be PM one day if he put his mind to it, the other is while bright, is somewhat lazier and certainly less ambitious. They get the same encouragement at home although the lazy one needs some more forceful encouragement. That doesn't mean the less academic one will have a less happy or fulfilling life, but my conclusion is, producing an academic child can't all be down engineering by (helicopter) parenting and environment.

AmandaHuggankiss Mon 01-Oct-12 16:23:14

Amber, I just got off the phone from Eton, the two ladies I spoke to were both very helpful, I was a little nervous about speaking to an institution with such a reputation.

I said that he was 10 years and 4 months and they drew my attention to the 10 year 6 month deadline for registration, I asked about testing and they said that their test is really an intelligence test, which is good I think for DS, although I don't want to get carried away.

She said if you are not sure about ability the best thing is to come to an open day where you can ask questions of the admissions tutor and get more of a feel for the school.

She said she would send me a list of dates by email.

DrSeuss Mon 01-Oct-12 16:16:53

DH went to Abingdon.

happygardening Mon 01-Oct-12 16:11:55

amber2 it is possible after a few weeks of each term in the first year at Winchester to give up all team sports never play team sports again and sell those 3 virtually unworn rugby shirts to the 2 nd hand shop! Instead fence for example three times a week or rackets badminton fives rowing swimming etc etc and maybe he would prefer a non sporting activity they are available too.
We did virtually no preparation for the Winchester interview/Pre test or St Paul's interview and were offered both. For Eton you DS does need to able to read/understand instructions very quickly!

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 15:58:30


Is there any advice you can give on the pretest /Eton admission in general? - I am not getting any extra tutoring for my year 5 DS outside what he does at prep school (other than some diy by myself in maths where it interests him and he reads widely also) and I am wondering if that (not tutoring) is a big mistake given the fierce competition to get a place at somewhere like Eton or Winchester...I feel (perhaps naively) if it is the place for him he should be able to get in on his merits and I would not want him to end up in the bottom third (intellectually) of any school he goes to. But I have friends who swear by extra tutoring especially at crucial selective stages.

amber2 Mon 01-Oct-12 15:45:42


You are describing my DS! And my dilemma (day vs weekly boarding vs full boarding and in my case grammar vs independnt also) ...he likes team games and sports to a degree but is more inclined to activities like rock climbing, sailing and golf and really wants to try fencing but he is never going to be an A player in competitive team sports liek football or rugby. He is very able at certain subjects (top sets) in a very good large but unselective country prep which does send a couple of boys to Eton each year but whether he has what it takes to get into likes of Eton I am unsure of and unsure whether it would suit him also - it's fiercely competitive to gain a place I know to places like Eton (as it is to certain grammars around here). Assuming he had the brains, while aspects of Eton are very appealing, the full boarding, single bedrooms from the outset and formality (and perhaps conformity?) are the things I have some doubts about and I simply don't know how my lad will develop between now and 13+ about to be sure he that he will suit full boarding but Eton is on my "to consider" list as I need to find out more.

IndridCold Mon 01-Oct-12 15:16:24

From your description of your DS I would definitely consider Eton as a possiblity. My DS started there this term and absolutely loves it. As long as your boy enjoys trying lots of new things, and likes to try his best in every endeavour he will do well there.

Regarding sport, my DS enjoys sport, but is not what I would call sporty, but they have 6 rugby teams for his age group so he is playing with other boys at his level (in the E team!) and they are so far unbeaten, which has boosted his confidence no end. There are so many other things to try too - fives, fencing, rowing as well as kayaking, climbing and things like the Ten Tors challenge. So long as boys are busy with something the school doesn't seem too fussed about what it is.

We started the process by having a good discussion with his prep HM, who had made some suggestions but did not mention any of the elite schools. We asked him whether DS had the smarts to try for on of the other top schools; he said that he certainly had the potential, but he recommended Eton rather than the one we had first considered.

I won't pretend that it was plain sailing getting there, DS was promoted from the waiting list in March this year! But please don't assume that it is beyond your DS to win a place there.

I wish you luck!!

Chubfuddler Mon 01-Oct-12 12:11:12

Also if you are totally at sea there are scholastic agencies which help you identify suitable schools - Gabbitas is one.

Chubfuddler Mon 01-Oct-12 12:09:51

Clifton College

there are loads. You need to ask the prep school for more of a steer, it's what they are supposed to be doing.

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