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Winchester College Open Day

(346 Posts)
bico Thu 30-May-13 09:47:56

Anyone going this Saturday? Ds is in year 4 and keen to have a look, I think mainly because they have an 18 hole golf course grin.

termsofuse Wed 26-Jun-13 13:03:46

Piano. Not sure how that pre-testing would work. No need to commit to Election until three months before in Feb of the same year of entrance anyway. Not 100% sure, but I think constitutionally, you do not even need to be interviewed by anyone and you can simply put your name down before the Feb deadline for Election. More commonly, boy has interview with a HM for a conditional offer, HM may or may not suggest Election. Meeting with Head follows some months later along with parents in his study. At that meeting again, he may or may not suggest Election. These are just suggestions which the boy can follow or reject. I think any kind of barrier to Election may be against founder's intent and even violates WC constitution.
Do seek a meeting with Ian Fraser. He is likely to also say that tutoring is wasting your DS's valuable free time to think. I think you will find such a meeting sobering and him very helpful. No question that knowledge needed for Election is at worst CE. Any suggestion that it is harder or GCSE or higher is just plainly wrong. If you think about it, some of the questions that require the most effort to answer come from very young children.
As for harder or easier, it is like saying that playing the cello is harder than playing the piano or learning arabic; very different both easy and both hard. Similarly, collegemen are cleverer than commoners is like saying pianists are better musicians than cellists. Yet, prep school habitually make that kind of remarks, including those renowned for being feeder schools who boast about their track record of College entries, which proves only one thing - they are easily fooled by basic survivor's bias or worse in the implied assumption about their customersparents.

happygardening Wed 26-Jun-13 21:01:39

Interesting re Electiion DN was at a eye wateringly horrible pushy selective London prep with a good track record of boys doing well in the Election. DN was also trying for a scholarship into a fairly selective London day school all were taught as if going for the Election including including those doing the KS and scholarship into SPS because in the head view the Election was the hardest. My DN spent two years learning endless facts including Xmas day afternoon, all were encouraged to give up extra curricular activities and parents were strongly encouraged to assist in learning/revising etc in their every waking moment and those parents without time to devote their spare time to do this got tutors. All practised on Election past papers. All in his yr were successful in theirs scholarships including the KS SPS and of course the Election.

pianomama Thu 27-Jun-13 08:30:46

I wonder if a lot of it is parents' attitude. I am not a big fan of over tutoring DC - unfortunately I have seen a few sad cases when DC came out of top schools and suddenly going to pieces - not being able to finish their uni courses, generally feeling lost and not knowing who they are and what to do with themselves. I try to trust selection process - if DC didn't make it, it is probably not the right place for them.
I know my DS who is very busy does his best work in the little spare time he has.He writes poems and stories sometimes on a typewriter, reads a lot - sometimes he comes up with unexpectedly amazing poem written on a birthday card or a letter. I really like him the way he is smile . Of cause I want him to be in a top school but only if it is the right school for him.

termsofuse Thu 27-Jun-13 11:37:41

Piano. Completely with you on this which I think is far healthier. Parents' attitude and desires can end up playing a huge part if one loses full perspective. If you are not doing anything to get your child into a branded school (which is not optional), then you are failing your child. You also see children turned into parental bling.
HG. I do not have experience with or know anything about other scholarship exams, only that KS works with (and probably needs) tutoring but Election is the exact opposite (tutoring can harm). Just can't see how cramming facts could ever do anything to Election. Bayesian outcomes mess with all of us. We all want to find a single cause or formula to an outcome. Even those who are trained to avoid that fall prey to it every now and then. The medical profession (not short of fairly bright people) is a place where convariances in correlations are turned into spurious causation regularly when looking for causes of diseases or efficacy of treatments. They make good stories in the hands of reporters who are not trained in statistics (or never learnt much maths). With relatively small sample size, simplistic use of data (deliberate or not), you can weave all kinds of sensational relationships which you can describe as prove of cause and effect, and since doing something feels better than doing nothing, you have a great marketing tool. If you look at car insurance data on accidents, you are quite likely to see that quite a lot of accidents happened with wipers running and headlights on. You are likely to find a statistically significant relationship. So, having headlights and wipers running caused the accidents. We must do something, ban them. You don't need to go back to school as much of these types of flaws can be analysed qualitatively. As a digression, why do they not include this as part of the basic maths curriculum, conditional probability and its pitfalls?

happygardening Thu 27-Jun-13 16:57:43

term obviously my story is anecdotal although a quick look at the website of said mentioned prep school I notice another candidate was successful in the election this yr and most yrs they have at least one successful candidate.
I do think that all this cramming of facts and tutoring etc stifles a love of learning these are children we're talking about. We've only ever tutored for Latin and that was only when we discovered that the Latin teacher at the prep was not a Latin teacher but an MFL teacher but "it's ok because he did Latin O level" (30 years ago) so knew only marginally more Latin than I did. In fact my experience of preps is that they are exam obsessed and teach to CE (or whatever entrance exam your chid is sitting) and that rather than inspiring a love of learning they turn everything into a drudge. My DS now waxes lyrical about physics maths (he left prep hating it) and even English he's inspired and interested, he left prep frankly switched off and with a poor confidence in his ability.

britishsummer Thu 27-Jun-13 17:55:25

We experienced a poor prep that just focused on getting through material and then an excellent non selective boarding one with a more exciting creative way of teaching. In a multivariable analysis of a record of scholarship success one of the variables would be that the latter prep attracts some highly able children (some of whom might have dedicated parents) but they certainly facilitated their ability to think as well as cover required material. Excellent for slack parents like ourselves who wouldn't have the inclination or ability of parents like termsofuse to take over the preparation ourselves

termsofuse Thu 27-Jun-13 22:55:27

Looking at my last post, I realised that it could come across totally obnoxious - I apologise for that - it was never supposed to come across like that. Problem with posts and emails and the absence of other cues.
What I find particularly unpleasant and always draws a reaction is schools (for any age group) bragging about how many they put through such as such branded schools as scholars, or such ans such universities, using their throughput as their rightful marketing materials. And in every case, they use very simplistic statistics of their choosing to prove their success. If they were public companies, they would have been whipped by investors for such KPIs. Just don't believe you can measure a child's success this way as if you were training race horses or show dogs, counting trophies. It would have been fine if they were tennis schools. For selective schools especially (nothing against selectiveness), they cannot be unaware of their Bayesian bias. It is actually quite insulting.
When it comes to "preparation", the most valuable imo has to be giving a child free and boredom time. I see no difference between getting a school or tutor to ram knowledge into a boy for Election and doing it yourself as parents. It would be so sad to reduce yourself from a mother to a teacher and spend your time with your child tutoring him and rob him of his family time just playing or enjoying being with him. Extrapolating from that, parental or external tutoring/prepping imv is equally counter-productive. College is looking for a certain mindset which is not superior to others, but it is very unfortunate that even WC itself equates that to trophy "intelligence" or "cleverness" which could be quite damaging for those who are not elected and also runs the risk of producing egos amongst those who are, both could impair learning desires.

letsgetrealmums Fri 05-Jul-13 00:51:31

ok, I see that a lot of you here believe that Winchester is only for the elite but that is simply not true. 5 years ago my son came looking for an interview here having failed to get into Harrow, Radley and Eton. We had not enrolled him to do the Winchester entrance exam at all. However, very kindly they offered to interview him at short notice. At the end they said that they would give him a place, not on academic achievement but for the fact that he seemed like a Winchester boy, nice and not too egotistical and arrogant. He finished his last exams very recently and I would say that throughout the whole process, Winchester as a school has an ethos of being kind, creating long lasting friendship and producing very witty and charming men, rather than intellectuals. This is an honest report on what Winchester has achieved.

britishsummer Fri 05-Jul-13 06:43:45

I for one don't think it is academically more elite than the average grammar school and a boy who is not an all rounder would have more chance of getting into Winchester than Harrow and Eton. Those qualities you describe is go with the impression we have, it does n't seem to encourage inner arrogance despite the undoubted privileged upbringing most of the boys have. Hopefully that will continue and the type of education they give opens up rather than close minds.

Amber2 Fri 05-Jul-13 10:12:12


It's refreshing to see someone posting in a genuine way about a school rather than saying it's so much better or more elite than X or Y school ...and freely admitting let's face it there will be boys who get into Winchester who may not get into Eton and vice versa. What is best for one type of boy may not be best for another. What you said about Winchester is very positive and a better testament to your experience that if offered to your DS than focussing on how elite it is and adding a layer upon layer of mystique, the same way that people often do about Oxbridge.

happygardening Fri 05-Jul-13 11:01:02

letsgetreal I agree with a lot that you say regarding the boys but the only thing is that when your DS applied 6-7 yrs ago Dr Townsend (the head) was relatively new. I have definitely read somewhere ISI report I think that his vision for the school is a centre for international academic excellence. If you read their website you can clearly see they increasingly looking at taking very bright boys from Asia this section has expanded this yr and I was told by a couple of boys that the head very recently reminded the boys that they don't come to Win Coll to do sport but academia.
We have to ask ourselves why? Win Coll fees are some of the highest in the UK, they have decided to swim against the current tide and stay full boarding this is not popular with many parents who want more flexibility and more parental involvement again something Win Coll is not big on. Many parents also see sport and success at high levels as part of the package of a full boarding school. Against this back drop most independent schools even the fairly non selective ones are improving their results year on year, the selective ones; Radley Harrow Abbingdon Tonbridge are now closing the gap on Win Coll, SPS and Westminster reman in a league of their own. The is only a finite number of UK parents with £34 000 a year who want proper full boarding single sex and results only marginally better than a more flexible boarding school/London day school, becasue lets be realistic thats where the majority of parents with that kind of money live, with at best ok sporting results. Win Coll of course is not just about this and as someone who knows quite a lot about other super selctives it does offer something different but not all want or care this and not all bright boys like what it offers.
This is why I think the head has decided that he has to make it more academic its USP, appeal to the parents in the UK and outside of the UK primarily Asia who want top results hence the introduction of the much "more rigorous" Pre U for nearly all subjects , international connections with other very academic schools abroad and top universities abroad primarily the Ivy League etc. So I suspect the admissions policy will tighten up currently no passmark for the entrance exam but I'm sure that will change, when we first applied (I was thin then a not grey) you were told that having been accepted at yr6 the entrance exam was a mere formality they are now looking for a reasonable showing in the entrance exam how long before a pass mark is set? Someone on here said that they thought the interview process will change, no more will parents choose an HM who then interviews you and goes on his gut feeling that your DS is right for the school. The criteria for staying on for the 6th form is currently 4A* and 6 A's but again I think this will change not this year or next but in the future.
As I said before I'm not commenting on whether or not this is the right thing and I maybe wrong of course I am just going my impression and the views of a few others currently working in independent ed who also feel this is the way it have will go to survive.

happygardening Fri 05-Jul-13 11:28:23

Meant to add I couldn't care less where the boys come from UK Asia or even Mars we live in a globalised society this how ours and most importantly ours DC's future will be: all nationalities living, working and learning side by side and I hope in peace with each other.

Xpatmama88 Fri 05-Jul-13 12:21:54

Letsgetreal, I do agree with you, I think Winchester boys are charming and witty (many of them are very intellectual too). I see my boy develops into a confident young man, he does well academically, and he enjoys music, sports, and drama that are available. But again, these activities if the boys want to do it, they can, if not, no pressure at all, so it is up to individual boy. He went with school to watch two operas (free entrance for WC students) during the exam week, I'm not too sure about that thinking he needs to study, but he says he'll be fine and he wants to go. He loves the operas apparently they are very moving! It seems he did well with the exams too. So I can't complain.
We choose WC because it is full boarding which is important as we are expat living overseas, we also want a very academic school where my DC (we believe he is very able) can find peers with similar abilities and wave length and hopefully they can inspire each other.
So far so good, he is happy, and we can't wait for him to come back. School finishes tomorrow. Hurray!

peteneras Fri 05-Jul-13 22:54:55

Yes indeed letsgetreal, just let us get real - all this hype about Winchester 'not for the faint-hearted', 'very academic' (whatever that means), etc. etc. is just that . . . hype!

I seem to remember reading somewhere on MN that, for example, Win Coll’s Election is 'not looking for academic boys' therefore, implying Collegers at Win Coll are not academic. And yet, a common prelude and swansong often heard on MN whenever Winchester is mentioned is that it is 'very academic'. Which leads to the conclusion that commoners at Win Coll are more academic than Collegers.

Which is balderdash, of course.

So come on, lets get real!

pusspusslet Sat 06-Jul-13 13:38:27

I'm not sure what you're saying there, peteneras i.e. that you believe Collegers at Win Coll to be academic or not academic...?

It would be a bit surprising if scholars at one of the most academic of top-ranking independent schools were not extra bright, no? All the top academic boys' schools (Winchester, Eton, Westminster, St. Paul's et al) are likely to attract especially bright children for scholarships, I'd have thought. Don't you think so?

happygardening Sat 06-Jul-13 14:37:55

According to the 2012 FT league tables Win Coll came 9th Eton 17th.
According to both the schools websites at Win Coll 50.1% achieved the much coveted A** or A* at the harder Pre U and 80.1 % and A all carry more UCAS points than their equivalent grades at A level. At Eton 36.7% achieved an A* and 82% and A.
For anyone to describe Win Coll as not "very academic" or that the scholars are not academic or even more bizarrely that the commoners as a general principle are more academic than the scholars is frankly ridiculous. Quite a few of my DS's friends failed to to do well in the election all found the exams very difficult they talk about getting 15% in some papers none are stupid they just basically did not do well enough I think all would admit that they weren't clever enough for it.

termsofuse Sat 06-Jul-13 15:49:43

Real, you pretty much summed up what WC is about. WC has many who did not get through other schools's pre-selections. Know a few who got into WC but were rejected by the likes of Eton and vice versa. Does that make WC one of the best, perhaps but it could also be completely disastrous for someone with an incompatible learning style which makes it one of the worst.
What is "academic" exactly? Or "intellectual"? If academic means being a bookworm and studying/cramming/stuffing knowledge into your head, then it is not WC. Intellectual - if you mean completely isolated from the real world and spaced out in deep esoteric thought, single-dimension personality, then that's not WC either. WC is not above wanting good exam grades from the boys, but if being "academic" as described above is the only way of getting them, then I doubt very much if WC is suitable. Div would be a painful struggle for starters.
Extrapolating from that, you cannot study for Election; some try and claim it works but I seriously doubt if they would not have got through it without the agony. College wants boys who enjoy independent thoughts and question things, and perhaps have passion/obsession about hobbies/interests (other than sports), which has nothing to do with cleverness or "academic" capability or being "intellectual"; merely a style of learning and personality, learning capacity rather than capacity of being taught. So, Election is less "academic" than WC Entrance. Just pick up past papers of each and compare them side by side. For maths especially, Election is seemingly and superficially much more difficult by just mentioning even degree level concepts by name, but in reality, with the guidance given in the paper, most 10 year old would have the maths to solve them. This is not an exaggeration but you have to see for yourself. Same is true for other subjects. Euler's rule, Fermat's theorems, paleo-anthropology, natural resources based economy, tidal zone biology all spring to mind. Sometimes, they bury and disguise them by inventing non-existent names for them. You often hear complaints about "we have not been taught this .... Election is way beyond CE even GCSE syllabuses" which is total nonsense. Concepts sound daunting but underlying knowledge is minimal, you just have to know it deeply and well enough to apply it and you will not get there by studying it or having someone teach you; you can only get to that depth by having a learning style/personality that makes it fun thinking about it in your downtime and figuring things out in depth yourself. So, if you can't study for Election but you can study for Entrance, which is "more academic"? These are very confusing adjectives anyway.

termsofuse Sat 06-Jul-13 16:29:12

HG. It is sad that those boys felt that they "weren't clever enough". I have heard more than once collegemen openly admiring how much cleverer such and such from a commoner house was. There was a time when boys were obsessively and speculatively linking IQ scores to getting into College when no one had even done any kind of scoring, never mind the validity of defining cleverness on a single test score. Quite ironic given how WC boys question things. Glad that it is no longer topical. Talks of cleverness are both unhelpful (baggage of not getting elected and danger of conceit from getting in) and miss the point of Election (pretty sure the founder did not look at things that way). More curious than others, more driven to discover and learn, perhaps, not sure if that is really cleverness though.

peteneras Tue 09-Jul-13 15:24:03

Sorry pusspusslet for the delay in answering your question and for causing ambiguity in my previous post. I absolutely agree in everything you said about scholars. It goes without saying that Collegers at Win Coll would be extra bright and highly academic. How on earth would one even begin to comprehend the scholarship questions if one is not academic - let alone answering them to a high degree? But the same term ‘very academic’ cannot be uniformly applied to the rest of the school.

This thread (I thought) is about Win Coll. Just why would anyone come out with data and statistics about Eton is puzzling. If the idea behind quoting the FT league table is to say WC is ‘very academic and not for the faint-hearted’, then it must be said there are 8 schools above WC which would be even more academic. Two of these schools (state) are right here in my backyard (QE Boys had actually offered a place to my DS even though he was one year underaged. The other is a girls’ school). I have never ever heard either of them described as ‘very academic’ and ‘not for the faint-hearted’ in my 25-year residence here. Nor have I ever heard all the other schools above Win Coll described as such. So what is this idea of emphasizing WC as ‘very academic’ each time this school is mentioned, can someone please enlighten me?

Given the FT 2012 league table as I was, and when you click on Winchester College, the bar chart and graph don’t exactly tell me WC is more academic than that iconic school in Windsor if the last 6 years is anything to go by.

So please do get real!

pusspusslet Sat 20-Jul-13 08:36:45

Thanks for explaining, peteneras.

Ozankoy Mon 29-Jul-13 13:32:00

Bico, you seem to have posted a plethora of negative comments about Winchester and its boarding house experience (all based on one visit at the recent Open Day). If you're so negative, why don't you schedule some other visits and focus on those and forget about Winchester. If you don't want Winchester, I'm sure it won't want you. Is your son your only child? I understand (age 9) he's already away at boarding school and you appear to have too much time on your hands. We are not interested in the minutiae of your every thought process; just headline observations based on direct experience.

As for "Having had a further conversation with ds over the weekend he is keen to go somewhere that will ensure he gets the best GCSEs and A level results (or whatever they will be called by the time ds sits them). He says he knows that they are important for his future (I'm wondering who he has been talking to, as it isn't something we've discussed)." who are you trying to kid?? You don't sound like the sort of family who would never have discussed GCSE / A level results in front of your child to me!!

Time to move on and start posting to another thread Bico. Good luck with your search.

happygardening Mon 29-Jul-13 18:52:27

bico maybe Ozan has a point if a little sharply put. Sometimes we look at schools with great expectations we really believe it's going to be the perfect place we've read such great things about it or have friends there who rave on about it and we've convinced ourselves that it's going to wonderful and our search is over. At a lunch last year with a bunch of mums from my DS's DS's old prep (wince) not one had a child at the same senior school Many of us had looked at the same schools but we'd all seen them in a different way and let's be realistic most top independent schools are likely to get the "best" out if our DC's so it comes down to how comfortable we as parents and our DC's feel there. If you don't feel comfortable at Win Coll for what ever reason whether it's because you didn't like the head or the dorms or the plastic music stands that's fine the advise above to move on and find one you do feel comfortable with is very good.
As I get older fatter and increasingly grey I realise that's it often the person/thing that we initially don't have high expectations of that surprise us and turn out to be just what we're looking for. Our country is positively groaning under the weight of boarding schools the vast majority struggling to fill their vacancies as you DS is musical he's bound to get a scholarship broaden your search look at some you would not normally consider you never know you might be pleasantly surprised by one you'd thought unsuitable.

britishsummer Mon 29-Jul-13 22:03:36

Ozan, bico has n't posted on this thread for well over a month and so has certainly moved on from it. She also has a right to post her impressions from a single visit just as most of us post opinions based on quite restricted anecdotal evidence. She obviously wanted to like Winchester but was n't impressed on that first visit. The subsequent discussion on this thread may have been helpful to others independently of what she eventually decides.

Ozankoy Mon 29-Jul-13 23:14:36

I hope you're right that she's gone. She posts very misleading stuff and appears to be a trouble-making fantas cist. As it happens, I was on the same visit to Toye's / Moberly's at the same time as Bico. Her first fantasy:

"One parent asked a question about academic standard required and prefaced his question with a long speech about how he hasn't considered or compared his son's academic ability, nor that of his school friends and neither had his son's the school. I nearly bit my tongue trying not to laugh. From the housemaster's answer Winchester would suit ds, as he currently is, perfectly."

I know the man who asked this question. Lovely man, lovely son. He's recently widowed and we travelled to and from the open day with him and his son. I heard his question, which was simply "We don't go around comparing ourselves with other families and have found it too early (Year 4) for our current school to give guidance. So could you provide some guidance on the academic standards you're looking for?"

That was it. The rest (per Bico) is manufactured. I know of no one less competitive than the questioner, who is entirely focused on his own children's development as opposed to what everyone else is doing. If Bico had to bite her tongue over that, she's easily amused, as well as having bad judgement.

Then there's her crap posted June 2 - "The housemaster we met has been there 7 years so will be gone before ds would start but would still be the one to interview him. " If Bico hadn't been bent double and tongue biting at my friend's well-put and brief question (the answer to which was of great interest to most anyway) she would have heard Mr Herring say that the incoming BoArding Head would be announced by the time applicants are interviewed and he ;not Herring) would conduct the interviews and decide.

Bico, I know you must be bored out of your brains with very young kids already boarding, a house in hinterland near Shiplake and a husband off doing other things. But you really need to get your brain engaged and your facts straight. Or you get caught out and are made a fool of. Your fabricated tales are not helping anyone. So please refrain going forward.

peteneras Wed 31-Jul-13 06:16:32

One may not agree with another’s point of view but I’m truly amazed how one can slag off another for writing what is in effect a personal observation of Win Coll. And to wish the other poster never to return anymore is truly absurd! So that we can all listen to one narrow, lopsided and biased view without any challenges, I suppose. Is this what Winchester College and its supporters are all about?

I didn’t attend the Open Day and have no particular interest in Win Coll and therefore, I’m impartial as to which view is correct. But to ask for the poster of an opposing view to disappear is blatant cyber bullying.

I have made a special effort to read as much as possible this entire thread especially those posted by bico and I did not find her/him ”posted a plethora of negative comments about Winchester”. On the contrary, I find her/his postings reasonable, well-balanced and fair. (S)he is even contemplating further visit(s) to Win Coll before finalising her/his decision. Are these actions the hallmark of a person with a plethora of negative attitude towards the school? I think not.

Indeed, there are far, far worse criticisms of Winchester by others even at this very thread alone.

Such as:

”headmaster seemed pompous and made no effort to "connect"”

” was particularly disappointed by the other students we met”

”they were pale and seemed almost autistic”

”incapable of looking at us or engaging with us”

”main disappointment was the quality of the house . . . it was dark and damp”
[on a bright, sunny day]

”dining room (which reeked of stale food)”

”the food was terrible! if what they served parents is an indication of what they serve boys, I'm not surprised so many looked pale and thin..” [Me not surprised too] shock

Oh Gosh! I could go on and on but I think you get the gist.

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