Eton - Choice of House/Housemaster

(30 Posts)
Gho Sun 30-Aug-15 08:10:11

I have read a few messages on MN about Eton life with great interest.

My son is 11, have had a conditional offer, at the stage of choosing a house.

Another boy in my Ds' year group had already chosen his house (older in the year group, hence started 6 mths earlier), we happen to favour the same housemaster without realising he'd had a place there. Will we still have a chance to get in the same house?

Does anyone know whether a Eton Housemaster can take two boys from the same prep in a same year?

Any recommendations on houses/housemasters for an all round boy, who is really fit physically, not Alfa male though, but gentle, resilient & versatile would be most appreciated.

@gravel: May I ask in which house is your Ds, that has that wonderful chef?

Thank you all.

IndridCold Sun 30-Aug-15 10:15:55

Does anyone know whether a Eton Housemaster can take two boys from the same prep in a same year?

Yes, I'm sure they do, although it might be a problem if three or four boys from the same school wanted a place. Housemasters choose boys to give a good balance overall, and they soon make new friends both in and outside the house.

There is a really good selection of housemasters at the moment, an adaptable all-rounder will fit into any house quite happily.

Well done to your DS, he will have a great time.

Gho Mon 31-Aug-15 14:45:12

Thank you IndridCold both for your reply and your good wishes.

We really love the school ourselves for all what it has to offer and convinced Ds will have a good time there.

As for Ds, he knows how lucky he is, having seen other boys who couldn't make it. Now he is more focused overall on everything he does, not seen before, nice!

IguanaTail Mon 31-Aug-15 14:50:54

Surely people don't actually name members of school teaching staff on an Internet forum?

IndridCold Mon 31-Aug-15 18:28:16

No one has been named on this thread, although I would point out that the names of all the HMs are available on the school website!

Sometimes people do ask about specific HMs, but I always reply via PM.

IguanaTail Mon 31-Aug-15 18:45:18

Yes it's quite commonplace for staff to be named on the school's website.

I don't like to think that people share their thoughts on individual people, but that's gossip for you.

Gruach Mon 31-Aug-15 19:54:13

To be fair Iguana seasoned people here are generally quite circumspect and discreet.

What I have found annoying in the past is when a (perhaps new-ish) poster asks a question about school choice, provides more and more information as people do their best to help - and then has the thread deleted because they realise they've given too much away. Thus depriving goodness knows how many others of a threadful of useful stuff.

peteneras Wed 02-Sep-15 14:05:21

Many congratulations to you and DS, Gho, for securing a conditional Eton offer. For now, this is as good as gold because in the past few years all 100 percent of conditional offer holders had gone on to secure their places permanently. A testament to Eton’s selection skill and accuracy - a quick computer test and a short interview and all’s done and over with. No messing about and wasting both the school’s and the boys/parents’ time.

This is quite unlike a certain school on the hill in north London now requiring new boys to sit three, four or maybe five tests over a period of time before the school can make their mind up who to offer. It is not as if this particular school is the greatest school on earth.

Or another school in a cathedral town somewhere in the south of England requiring boys to spend three days and two nights with the housemaster so that he can size the boy up from head to toe before he decides whether the boy is allowed into his house or not. And apparently, if all goes ‘well’, the boy is then betrothed to this one single individual of a housemaster who would then have a substantial influence over your lad for the rest of his career at the school and quite possibly for the rest of his life. And you are paying up to a £¼ million for this ‘privilege’. Besides being utterly ridiculous, in my mind this selection process is also most unhealthy - your vulnerable 13-year-old boy being indoctrinated by just one individual!

I can confirm Eton housemasters do take in more than one boy from the same prep school in the same cohort. I’m not sure they even know or care which prep school(s) their boys come from. An Eton housemaster is more interested in the character and personality of the boy that he wants to admit and not the character of the prep school. So which prep school a boy comes from is totally irrelevant.

But really, OP, you shouldn’t be losing sleep over which house your son may or may not go to. Just rejoice in the fact that your son is going to Eton and the whole world envies his good fortune. According to my son (who left Eton four years ago), the Oppidan houses are “all the same” and I would tend to agree with him. Paying parents i.e. non-scholarship boys and non-bursary holders, pay exactly the same money and therefore, Eton in its established wisdom goes out of its way to make absolutely sure that all boys at the school enjoy the same facilities and services offered by the school with the exception of College and its 70 King’s Scholars which is the core of the foundation.

Talking of which, consider my son’s case when he first entered Eton. There was no option for him in choosing a house/housemaster of preference. It’s College, take it or leave it. The Master-in-College (housemaster) at the time was a newly appointed woman! - the first and only female housemaster in Eton’s 5¾ century history. The contrast between my son and his housemaster couldn’t be more to the extreme. It’s chalk and cheese!

My son is a natural sportsman, a big lad and already a six-footer on first entering Eton. Interested in science and medicine (though he’s equally good at the humanities e.g. a dozen A*s I/GCSE including modern and ancient languages), plays the piano and guitar besides sports and swimming, loves the outdoor life and travels widely.

Lady Housemaster on the other hand, is petite, not known to be musical or play any sports. A young mother with small kids and therefore, homely. A professor in American History at Eton and non-scientific. All told, a far cry from DS’s dashing outdoor activities and academic/career interest. The last housemaster to suit DS, one might add.

And, did this spell disaster for DS? Well, it would be if DS was in that cathedral town school south of England where the housemaster and his pupil are inseparable. smile

But seriously, No! this unusual association between housemaster and my son, Eton style, did not prevent DS from achieving everything that he had set out to achieve. In spite of the glaring differences in their career paths and academic interests, it did not scupper DS’s chances of entering medical school. On the contrary, the whole experience at Eton has helped him breeze through four years at med school and hopefully in a couple of years time he would graduate a fully qualified doctor.

Because it is Eton, all doors throughout the school’s vast network of human and material resources remained open and accessible almost 24/7! . What Lady Housemaster was unable to help, there was always in the first instance, the Deputy Housemaster (male) on stand-by. And whatever Deputy couldn’t help, there would be another 150 or so professionals of all disciplines on Eton’s payroll in the vicinity. Within 24 hours (or less) your son would be in consultation with the appropriate expert(s) talking about his problems and more often than not, getting a solution.

In summary, except for College, there is really no difference between the 24 Oppidan houses. If your son is sporty it may make sense to opt for a house nearer to the playing fields because after a tiring match (and there would be many) a short walk back to your house/room is most welcome. The nearest one other than College is The Timbralls.

Then there is the question of whether your son prefers eating his meals at Bekynton (school canteen) or in-house. Generally speaking, houses located near Bekynton eat at Bekynton e.g. Keate, Hawtrey, Waynflete, Mustians but not Walpole which is literally next to Bekynton.

In my opinion, the best Oppidan houses would be those situated along the front end of Common Lane e.g. Manor, Common Lane, The Hopgarden, Warre but no further than Penn. These houses are located by the side of the road - ideal for a quick getaway during half-term etc. and are also near to the various study schools and obviously great for attending divs and other lessons. They are also close to the school library and relatively near to the playing fields.

However, there is a brand new block, the Bekynton Field Complex consisting of 40 or so classrooms that opened a few months ago and I believe many lessons would now take place there.

I hope this helps in your final decision in selecting a house and whichever house you select would not be a wrong one and your son’s five years at Eton will be one of the very best periods and most enjoyable in his life and probably yours too. Good luck!

IndridCold Wed 02-Sep-15 16:13:31

Hi peteneras hope you had a good summer.

There is a new MiC this year, as well as a new Head!

Gho Thu 03-Sep-15 00:43:51

@peteneras Thank you for taking the time to write in such length and for your kind words, suggestions, explanations and etc.. all is greatly appreciated indeed !

"in the past few years all 100 percent of conditional offer holders had gone on to secure their places permanently." This is music to my ears; I have been waiting for my Ds' intelligence, suggested by his school teaches and vindicated by Eton's offer, to translate into exam results, humanity subjects in particularly... hope this will happen in time for his CE.

Thank you for sharing your Ds' house experience - he sounds a remarkable young man and I sincerely wish him all the best for his future.

Regarding house/ HMs, all your points are well noted - we will make a decision shortly and keep you informed of the outcome.

Thank you again and best wishes.

DarklingJane Thu 03-Sep-15 01:15:27

Gho - Sorry to post because I do not have a boy at Eton. However someone is wrong on the internet and therefore I must reply grin

"Or another school in a cathedral town somewhere in the south of England requiring boys to spend three days and two nights with the housemaster so that he can size the boy up from head to toe before he decides whether the boy is allowed into his house or not. And apparently, if all goes ‘well’, the boy is then betrothed to this one single individual of a housemaster who would then have a substantial influence over your lad for the rest of his career at the school and quite possibly for the rest of his life. And you are paying up to a £¼ million for this ‘privilege’. Besides being utterly ridiculous, in my mind this selection process is also most unhealthy - your vulnerable 13-year-old boy being indoctrinated by just one individual!"

This (if it is referring to Winchester) is just incorrect and unhappily worded.

Please take advice from the experienced Etonian's parents (of course Petneras is one). From a purely practical stand point Ds (Winchester) always felt eating in house was a better experience than a central canteen. Possibly the only useful comment I can make grin

hattyhatter Thu 03-Sep-15 01:34:01

Iguana have you never seen individual heads dissed on MN? You haven't lived. Fascinating threads. The ones where transparent riddles are used are even more compelling wink

(Not schools- but someone on Higher Ed earlier alluded to their child leaning more towards the Fens than the Cotswolds. Unbreakable code, that one grin Though I'm not sure why a code was needed in that instance)

Gruach Thu 03-Sep-15 06:29:24

OP I should apologise for having dropped into your thread without in any way addressing your question.

It's pretty much all been said - just remember that in the end it is the HM who chooses your DS rather than the other way round. Which is as it should be because he is the one who has an expert view on who is already there.

Well done to your son!

CrispyCrispBag Thu 03-Sep-15 18:13:50

Long-time lurker here, looking forward to Happygardening's response to Peteneras post grin

No vested interest as we didn't apply to either of these great schools in the end, although several of DS' friends have done, some successfully, some less so. Our DS is currently deciding between offers from several (dare I say so) at least equally prestigious schools, however we decided to go for day or weekly boarding places, hence Eton and the mysterious school "somewhere in the South of England" weren't really on our radar. However, the knowledgeable posters on here have been more helpful than they probably realise in our selection process!

OP, massively well done to your DS.

IguanaTail Thu 03-Sep-15 18:36:11

hatty - no I haven't. I wouldn't find it fascinating, I would find it appalling. Teachers aren't special, and they expect gossip behind their backs. But they should not have to put up with published, personal opinions shared publicly over the Internet.

Comments about general ethos and situation and facilities and environment and general experiences and rules etc I have no problem with. Just the personal aspect. A bit Jeremy Kyle for me.

IndridCold Thu 03-Sep-15 18:55:59

Iguana you obviously haven't come across Rate My Teacher then! Link

IguanaTail Thu 03-Sep-15 19:19:06

Oh I have. Kids write all sorts of rubbish.

Parents, one would hope, might have better sense.

hattyhatter Thu 03-Sep-15 19:26:26

Iguana don't worry I was being sarcastic - they get deleted pretty damn fast when it does happen.

(Although the mindset that views teachers as consumer goods to be reviewed and dissected online IS grimly interesting)

IguanaTail Thu 03-Sep-15 19:57:16

It's a worry isn't it..confused oh well we can't stop it...

Gho Thu 03-Sep-15 22:03:00

Gruach thank you. Yes, we are interested in a particular HM, hope he will choose Ds in due course... figures crossed !

Gho Thu 03-Sep-15 22:04:20

Sorry, should be fingers crossed !

tippicanoe Tue 08-Sep-15 11:44:40

I am a "Lurker", too, like Crispy Crisps -- and also intrigued by Peteneras' post but for a different reason: the fact that nearly 100% of offers are accepted at Eton is by no means, contrary to what Peteneras says, a credit to the excellence of their admissions process, but rather suggests simply that most parents who apply to Eton are inclined to accept an offer if they/their boys are lucky to receive one. My own observation of many dozens of boys who have applied in recent years is that it is an imperfect system -- as imperfect as most other school admissions processes. I have been as mystified by some of the Eton acceptances as by some of the "rejections" and conclude that 10 minutes is most definitely not enough time for even an Eton master to gain insights into an 11-year-old boy. I have also observed that the boys (in my admittedly small sample of only a few dozen) who do well on the mysterious assessment (for which "it is not possible to prepare") are boys who have prepared very rigorously indeed in myriad ways to develop skills in NVR and VR test-taking.

Having said all that -- OP, many congratulations to your DS! He is undoubtedly about to embark on a most enjoyable, stimulating and intellectually challenging 5 years at what is undoubtedly a very fine school. Best wishes to him!

Gruach Tue 08-Sep-15 12:13:40

tippi Were you referring to:

the past few years all 100 percent of conditional offer holders had gone on to secure their places permanently.

- as that is quite a different point to the one you've made.

(I've certainly heard of parents turning down an offer when they think somewhere else would suit. But not first hand!)

What Peteneras said is encouraging to read - but it makes no difference when you're urging a child on through CE or KS. grin

I'd agree though that successful boys have been preparing for a lifetime, or a few weeks, but every one has done something different.

tippicanoe Tue 08-Sep-15 12:57:48

Yes, Gruach... I thought by that phrase she meant "100% of conditional offer holders had accepted their offers" but now that you repeat it I see she meant "100% of conditional offer holders go on to pass CE and gain admission". Is that unique to Eton? I would have assumed most conditional offer holders at most good schools will go on to secure their places by good results on CE. Given most boys who have received conditional offers will spend most of the next 2 academic years preparing for CE, it would be surprising, indeed, if any fail to meet the mark (speaking only of boys in reasonably academic schools). Also, anecdotally, I know boys who do well in their prep schools and work consistently and meet reasonable standards will secure their places post-CE even if they "have a wobble" on some part of CE assuming their HMs can attest that the CE result is not reflective of the boy's ability nor reflective of a consistently solid performance. (Which is not to say boys don't need to work to prepare for CE...!!)

peteneras Thu 10-Sep-15 19:56:23

Hello Indrid! I've had a reasonably good summer, thank you, and I hope your part of the world didn't suffer too much rain blown in from the Atlantic like in the winter months. Yes, I'm aware there is a new MiC at College this year - Lady MiC wrote to me in February saying she was leaving and the new MiC would be JAGF. And of course, it was widely reported since last year that Headman Tony was leaving for Dubai.

I gather your DS is now a Specialist with this new term. Time flies very quickly at Eton - soon it would all be over so enjoy and make the most of it whilst it's still there.

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