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Eton and Winchester

(23 Posts)
tigerlily123 Fri 24-Feb-17 10:20:20

Hi all,

My DS is currently in Y5 and looking for senior schools. His headmaster has recommended Winchester as our first choice, however for some reason my DS only wants Eton. We've been to visit Winchester, I really like it and think he'll thrive there. He said he likes it too but still want Eton confused ! It's strange as he's never been to Eton!

We are due to visit Eton in May but looking for some insider informations here. How are they different? I know both of them are big names and very academic, but anything else?

DS is very musical, - given he was accepted by Purcell I'd think he' has a high chance of getting a music scholarship or exhibition at both schools.

He 's not very sporty, doesn't enjoy team sports especially rugby but likes individual sports, like sailing, climbing, running this kind of things. He also likes drama and dance, although not very good at them.

Academically he's quite bright but not the exceptional one, struggles a little with reasoning test.

Any advice would be really appreciated!

Gruach Fri 24-Feb-17 13:02:09

We are due to visit Eton in May but looking for some insider informations here. How are they different? I know both of them are big names and very academic, but anything else?

Honestly - you don't actually need insider information at this point. You just need to have visited both schools (and maybe one or two others for comparison?) and you'll be able to discern the differences for yourself.

happygardening Fri 24-Feb-17 13:31:55

Why does your head recommend Winchester over Eton have you asked him?
What reason doesn't your DS give for wanting to go to Eton? Has he good friends who also want to go there.
They are different schools as gruach says, we and others wouldn't consider Eton as we loved what Winchester was and we know others who felt the same way about Eton. Having said this many like both.
There are no compulsory team sports at Winchester there is sailing and running is very strong but no climbing (DS2 left in the summer 2016).
There is lots of drama 6+ plays a term, and the standard is very high, but it is only extra curricular activity although because sport isn't compulsory you can opt to do drama instead, but there is no drama in the main curriculum, unlike Eton I believe who I think offer drama to A level, and there's no dance.
Music is exceptional again you can opt to do music instead of sport.
DS had friends who's parents would have described them as not exceptionally bright, some over the years have said that their DS's have found the pressure to achieve considerable in a culture where an A* is the norm but achieved by doing the minimum amount of work (a new teacher was once telling me how shocked she was by the boys casual approach to their work)! A couple wish they'd sent their DS's to slightly less selective more all round schools where they think they would have been happier although I have to say that I aways get the impression that amongst the boys its not an overly competitive environment but I could be wrong.
Winchester is a very liberal tolerant environment boys are very much left to work their own paths again this may not suit all boys or parents.
Having said all of this there is a new head so things might change.

relaxitllbeok Fri 24-Feb-17 13:41:04

What I'd honestly suggest is that you put
eton winchester site:mumsnet.com
into google, and spend a few hours reading the zillions of threads that'll give you, then come back if you have specific questions not addressed there. There's a relatively limited number of posters with direct experience, and I dare say they get fed up with typing the same things again and again!

tigerlily123 Fri 24-Feb-17 15:03:08

Thank you all. Sorry I'm new to this didn't know the rules here. I did search on here but the result came out all very old, so I thought to start a new one. But I think I will do what you suggested relaxitllbeok and have another look.

happygardening, thank you for your very helpful information, - exactly things what I was looking for. Would you mind telling me a bit more about the differences between the Winchester houses? Perhaps some are more musical, some more sporty, etc.? PM if too personal?

I suppose I do like both, I met the headmaster of Eton once and really liked him. I haven't met the headmaster of Winchester though but liked the housemaster we met during the visit. I think Winchester is more suited for DS as he's not very much a "leader" in my opinion. But I could be totally wrong so just wanted to hear what other people think about what kind of boys suit each school.

happygardening Fri 24-Feb-17 15:27:37

No particular house was really more sporty or musical etc DS2 has both musical and sporty boys on his house as well as intellectuals. Most HM's want a mix of boys who they think will gel together. Choose an HM who you feel has a similiar outlook on life/bringing up adolescent boys as you do. He doesn't have to be someone you'd like to meet at a diner party but someone you respect, feel your DS would respect but you also feel would care about your DS and be by his side supporting him in the way you would if it all goes wrong. DS2's HM was superb, DS2 went through a very rocky patch (unrelated to the school) and he stood by him and most importantly of all really cared about him and let him know he really cared about him I believe he has come through it in no small part due to the care of his HM. When we met him God knows how many years ago we formed an impression of a man who was completely there for the boys in his house, who really cared about them as individuals, was proud of them, who was fair and tolerant of growing adolescent boys who lets face it push boundaries, that is how they learn, but knew when to step in and be firm, and who if things were going wrong would be there to help and try and sort it out day or night, we were right.
One consideration I do understand some HM's are more sociable than others, organising drinks things etc, our wasnt which was frankly a relief. But I do know some parents wished he was in fact felt quite strongly about this if this is important for you ask.

Silverine08 Sun 26-Feb-17 04:03:17

Might be from a while ago but I have a number of friends who went to both. My understanding (and I think this is still the case) is that Winchester is very much seen as an academic school and the boys are very competitive academically. So the boys I know who enjoyed it were either naturally very clever or were highly motivated and studied hard.

Eton on the other hand, I have always felt is great because it doesn't have a label (e.g Wellington for sporty people, Winchester for swats). It appears to cater for pretty much everyone. So if your son isn't traditionally sporty there are lots of other options and despite entrance requirements the attitude and ability of the boys is more varied. So if your son is bright and can work hard but it isn't necessarily the be all and end all, there will be lots of others like him.

Although I love my friends from both schools equally, I have always found the Etonians have the edge for me. It's sad that the school is so famous and has a bit of a reputation for turning out arrogant boys because in my experience they are the least arrogant of all the ex public school boys in my circle.

sendsummer Sun 26-Feb-17 06:22:48

tigerlily I would n't overthink it at this stage but just go through the process for both and make a decision with your DS post pre test results or, if you are happy with the financial implications to do so, wait until the autumn term of year 8.
I suspect that your DS is influenced by what other boys in his school are saying at this stage. He needs to mature a bit before you make any fixed decisions. There are boys like him at both E and W and the music teaching and opportunities are comparable.
Silverine like you, I know lovely men, some very able, (older and young) emerging from both schools although TBH there are a few from E who have given me the impression that the charm and self deprecation are a learnt veneer to help ease their path rather than genuine lack of arrogance.

MrsBernardBlack Sun 26-Feb-17 11:25:52

I really wouldn't stress too much about the decision at the moment, before you have even visited Eton. Your DS may like the idea now, but may go off it when he visits - problem over!

As a previous poster has said, there are pages and pages on Mumsnet about both schools, all of it still relevant I would imagine. What you will glean from reading it all is that the same school can be loved and loathed in equal measure by different people. Insider info isn't really going to help much. The fact that my DS loved Eton, and happy's DS loved Winchester tells you nothing about which one is right for your son.

The person who knows both schools very well and knows your DS, is your headmaster, so his opinion is the most valuable here. However, if your son decides he prefers Eton then you should probably follow it up and try for entrance to both. You may get offers from both, or one or neither. That's when you need to worry about deciding.

Silverine08 Sun 26-Feb-17 11:43:28

Very good points made by MrsBernardBlack. If I think of my own experience of boarding school, I absolutely loved it and have kept in close touch with most of my friends for 20 years but there were other girls who absolutely hated it for the whole 7 years.

Some kids are suited to boarding some aren't and I'm sure that some kids are suited to certain boarding schools and not to others.

Asking your DS' current headmaster is a good start and the only other thing I would suggest (if they do it) is asking if your DS could have a trial weekend at each school to get a bit of a feel for it. My daughter's boarding school had a particular weekend set aside for this and I think it can help to make a decision. The reality is that you can never know if a school is going to suit your child until they've spent some time there. Good luck! My girl ias just one year left but I remember taking her trunk in and all her mountains of luggage as if it were yesterday!

Eton2017 Sun 26-Feb-17 12:19:56

asking if your DS could have a trial weekend at each school to get a bit of a feel for it that's good advice for schools that are recruiting, but I'd bet heavily it won't work for Eton and Winchester, which are selecting - they simply don't have the resources to offer that.

Go through the process for both; it involves quite a bit of visiting, so that by the time you have a decision to make, it'll be easier.

Btw you said you'd met the head of Eton - just checking that you mean the current head, Simon Henderson, not the previous one, Tony Little. Both schools have had changes of head recently.

Gruach Sun 26-Feb-17 12:30:10

They don't do trial weekends ... (At least, one of them definitely doesn't and if the other does, it's very new news to me.)

So in this instance decisions do have to be made before one has done much more than inspected and talked. (Assuming acceptance of course!)

But by the time you do have to make a choice you will both, if you've exercised diligence and paid attention throughout the process, have a very clear idea of what will suit him best.

Silverine08 Sun 26-Feb-17 12:33:09

I would still ask about the weekend. My daughters school had three times the number of people applying than places available so they certainly don't need to recruit. She may have done the weekend after she received a formal offer of a place though rather than before. As it was organized, the girls who lived locally were asked to go home for the weekend so that beds were free.

I would probably wait to get an offer and then ask. They can only say no right?

Gruach Sun 26-Feb-17 12:37:25

I commend your conviction Silverine. grin

Actually, in the past, boys taking the KS stayed in the school over the course of the exam - but I think (vaguely remembering) that may have changed now because of the sharp increase in applications.

Eton2017 Sun 26-Feb-17 15:11:04

Boys taking KS who would go into College if they got one, and boys from overseas, still stay in school. Those who are only competing for Oppidan scholarships, i.e. who would stay in their allocated house however well they did, now do it in their prep schools, if I remember rightly, because the school has no space for them all to stay.

Eton2017 Sun 26-Feb-17 15:14:00

I don't think that's likely to give a typical flavour of what it's like, though - DS will do 10 exams in 3 days. Rather him than me!

MrsBernardBlack Sun 26-Feb-17 15:31:17

I know that DS's house has played host to boys who have come up to take the sixth form scholarships. They also host boys on exchange visits. I have never heard of anyone coming for a taster session. As Eton2017 points out, the numbers seeking admission are now so large it would be impossible to organise without causing disruption to the current boys I would think.

They are also clamping down on the number of boys taking the KS, I understand, and you can only sit it if you intend to take the scholarship if it is offered.

Good luck to your DS for the KS Eton2017. As you say, rather him than me smile.

Eton2017 Sun 26-Feb-17 15:40:41

Thanks. I wish he'd learn his irregular verbs grin

tigerlily123 Wed 01-Mar-17 15:36:59

Thanks everyone for your valuable input! Sorry work was hectic last few days so didn't manage to come back sooner.

I gather from everyone's advice, I'm thinking of this too much too early grin! I should just go along with the application process and see what happens. I guess initially I just didn't want to register both, - a lot of money for me! But they all require to register early so I thought to see what other mums think about it.

Ideally I was thinking to just register with 3 schools, so along with DS's headmaster's advice:
1. Aspirational, could achieve with a push I hope
2. Somewhere DS could achieve without a push
3. a back up.

So it was obvious to me that E and W are both the same level at 1 hence I wanted to select just one of them to register.

tigerlily123 Wed 01-Mar-17 15:44:33

happygardening Thank you for your info again. Do you mind if I PM you about a particular house we are interested?

Silverine08 Interesting I always hear different opinion on E and W's academic comparison. Our headmaster thinks Eton is more academic but a mum who has a boy in there and another about to go in said Winchester is more academic. confused Also, some says Eton is more sporty. DS will prefer to not join team sports I think. He doesn't complain in his sports team now but he certainly also doesn't concentrate which is a pain to others!

tigerlily123 Wed 01-Mar-17 15:49:36

sendsummer Yes you are right I asked DS this weekend and although he doesn't admit he wants to go to Eton because of other boys in his current prep, he did mention that the head boy and deputy head boy had a little "argument" of where he should go, as they are going to E and W respectively and both want to take DS with them! gringrin

DS is very popular at his school, especially among the older boys. One of his best friend's brother is in Eton I guess that affected where he wants to go too.

tigerlily123 Wed 01-Mar-17 15:54:32

Eton2017 So your DS is going to Eton this year? I met Simon Henderson. He was already appointed but had not started at Eton at the time. He was extremely good in my opinion, very inspirational.

What is Winchester's headmaster like?

Eton2017 Thu 02-Mar-17 12:10:42

Yup, getting close now...

About whether Eton or Winchester is more academic: I think it's a case where you have to define your terms. Since Winchester has the reputation of being so academic, while Eton emphasises that it admits not only on academics, it seems a fair bet that the average boy at Winchester is likely to be more academic than the average boy at Eton. However, Eton is roughly twice the size of Winchester, so for purposes of working out "will my son have enough academic peers?" a more interesting comparison might arguably be between Winchester's boys and the more academic half of Eton's boys; or maybe an even better thing to think about is just the top set in subjects where your son shines, in each place.

This site indeed puts Winchester above Eton by overall percentage of A and Astar equivalent, but by little enough to suggest that the ranking might be the other way round if one did look at the academically top half of Eton's intake. However, public examination results aren't a terribly good guide anyway, because of ceiling effects and that fact that for a really academic child you want more than will be reflected in exam results anyway.

Similarly, Winchester sends a very slightly higher proportion of its leavers to Oxford and Cambridge, but by so narrow a margin (32% their website says, vs 30% in recent Eton years) that the absolute numbers from Eton must be much higher; and again, once both are that high, it doesn't matter; either place will have the experience to support a boy in that application if that's the right one for him.

Ask me in five years, but my impression is that both schools are academic enough for my DS (who is one of those who people think of as a Winchester natural, but has turned out to prefer Eton), and I suspect that at the top end there's nothing to choose between them. It's fine to go for the one that feels right for your DS.

Just my opinion, but if your DS is academic enough that Winchester and Eton are reasonable options, I think you may not need both a "without a push" and "backup" choices. We only ever registered our DS for Eton and for the more local school he'd have gone to if he'd decided near the time that boarding wasn't for him. You might want to check with your DS's headmaster whether the advice he gave really applies to you, or is his general spiel aimed at everyone.

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