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Winchester College - supposing you're not at all quirky?

(59 Posts)
justlearning2017 Mon 11-Jun-18 15:33:45

I know there is a lot of conversation (all relative but there is more here than anywhere else I can find) about the quirkiness of the boys at WinColl. My son has just been offered a place and isn't quirky AT ALL. Not one little bit. He's pretty bright (decent IQ but would rather play sport than do too much extra work), loves sport, enjoys music and likes taking part in drama. In other words, he's a classic all-rounder, or just a fairly normal 11 year old boy.
Everything I hear about Winchester suggests you need to be exceptionally bright, with a quirky personality. Supposing they accept you but you haven't got those things? Are you going to fail to fit in and should you head off to a more classically all-round boys school (Radley, Marlborough, Sherborne etc)? Or is the fact they've offered you a place enough to suggest they think you'll thrive there?
Many thanks

OP’s posts: |
sw15007 Mon 11-Jun-18 16:08:55

No direct experience but I know a couple of boys there at the moment and a few (very) old boys. All very 'normal' and not remotely quirky! Bright but not genius level and into all the usual stuff 13 year old boys are into. Both from down to earth, hard working families etc.

BubblesBuddy Mon 11-Jun-18 16:18:02

Don’t forget MN is a tiny speck of opinion and views on a school. The vast majority of Winchester parents do not post on here at all, ever. Therefore my view would tend to concur with your view. If he’s been offered a place, he will fit in just fine. Also do have an in depth look around. Talk to some other boys. Who else from your current school has gone there? What were these boys like? Can you speak to their parents?

Lastly, don’t believe everything you read on here from a self selecting group of parents! (I include myself - of course!)

Wincollparent Mon 11-Jun-18 17:34:06

OP most boys there are neither quirky nor exceptionally bright. However there seems to be much more acceptance by the boys of individuality and less judgement on 'coolness' than in other schools. There is also freedom to choose individual pursuits and not to do team sports if that is preferred.
Whether your DS would enjoy another school more is a harder question. There is plenty on offer for extracurricular activities so an all rounder will have a good time. However the boys do 2 hours of homework everyday including Saturday evening. A fair amount of what they are taught will not be for the purpose of getting good grades at public exams. That can be inspiring and liberating but for some boys a more utilitarian approach to following a curriculum may be preferred as it frees up more time.

justlearning2017 Tue 12-Jun-18 12:33:52

Thank you all so much for replying. I have tended to read and lurk over the past year, so it's very useful to remember that most parents aren't on here at all! I think my son could handle a couple of hours of prep as long as there's a bit of light left to play football or cricket. So as long as there are enough other boys who want to do the same, I think he'd be fine. We will chat to plenty of parents and boys but I'm so glad to hear that there ARE lots of lovely normal boys. The school and the word 'quirky' have become inextricably linked on here!

OP’s posts: |
Wincollparent Wed 13-Jun-18 10:04:28

Not sure if I would say that IME the 'normal' boys are any more or less 'lovely' than the 'quirky' boys smile. Individuals with something to say (but also able to listen) rather than conformity or a type is my overall impression whether 'normal' or 'quirky'. That does n't stop most of them liking the usual boy teenage activities including kicking or throwing a ball around. Sport activities will be in the afternoons (before or after lessons depending on the time of year) but from what I hear particularly the younger boys often congregate in their house yard or nearby grounds to kick a ball around after prep.

PondHopper Wed 13-Jun-18 14:25:56

I would disagree with some here. Winchester College is all about being tops academically, IMHO. If your child thrives on being top 1% in studies and results I would say a good fit. If a more "normal" boy then I would look at other schools. We were put off when we were told Win Coll becomes their family and you are visitors from year 9 on. Opinion is worth what you pay though. Interview, see if you get a place and then decide based on what you know of your DS.

Wornthreads Sun 01-Jul-18 23:21:12

Hi Justlearning, our D.S is considering Wincoll for 2019 (has been offered a place). We're trying to find out more about it and have been doing a bit of research about this rumour of quirky boys.

A Head Master of a relatively small prep school told me that when he was at school (probably 30 - 40 years ago), his 'school' always considered Wykhamists a bunch of wierdos - which I thought was a very unnecessary comment (nonetheless interesting he said it). Also, a friend of ours is a diplomat and he mentioned, There's plenty of them (Wykhamists) in the foreign office and alluded to the same sort of 'odd ball' character trait. He decided not to put his own D.S's name down there.

Two boys from our D.S prep are due to start this year. One is the kindest, switched on, musical, academic and outgoing chaps you're likely to find. The other is very withdrawn and keeps himself very much to himself. Of the other boys we know there (or are going), most are quite clever and polite/kind, but certainly not 'main stream' communicators. One boy we know who will start next year just says 'yes' or 'no' to every question I've ever heard put to him, but my understanding is he's going for the election there, so maybe if a boy is that clever, the other aspects of character and personality are considered less important.

We visited earlier this year and just by chance met a final year boy on our walk to the school. He was very dynamic and charismatic, and certainly no shrinking violet (he was very impressive). So, as you can tell, we're quite confused. We do not want to be leaving the school after 'New Man's Day' like our friends did a couple of weeks ago, to find that fifty percent of the boys in their D.S's cohort are unable to communicate because they did not speak English well enough, or they were just did not possess the character to communicate effectively. Equally, we know his is by no means representative of every boy there.

We love the idea of our D.S being educated in one of the best schools (if not the best) in the world, but have now resorted to reading the ISI reports to gleen a better understanding (extract below).

The latest (2015) report states at the time of the report the school had 685 boys, of which 136 come from families who have English as an additional language (EAL) Most of them resident in a wide range of overseas countries. Of these 6 received formal support for their English. The report goes on to say, The school had identified 102 pupils who have a variety of special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) of whom 30 are in receipt of specialist learning support.

Based on the report, I'm beginning to form an idea (rightly or wrongly) about the quirky comments. The movie 'Rain man' springs to mind. Still we're all very undecided and are still trying to find out more. Does anyone know when the next inspection is? They seem to be able to deliver some good fact based comments.

Dontblameitontheboogie Mon 02-Jul-18 00:19:45

I wouldn't class the Winchester College students that I know as "quirky". I also don't think you need to be top of everything to get in - I'm sure many are, but certainly not all. Several boys from our prep ended up going there after not getting places at the day schools they applied to (Hampton Boys, KCS, St Paul's). These days, at least where I am, WC is offered as a "backup" for reasonably able students who don't get into their chosen day schools. NOT because it's any less good than those schools but rather because full boarding is less popular than it used to be even 10 years ago.

Before I get flamed, I want to stress that I'm sure these boys are all bright, they're just not "super bright". They were fairly average in their year groups at our West London Prep (not scholarship material although they have to go through the scholarship stream to pass the WC entrance exam) and didn't get into the top West London day schools - but clearly WC saw something in them, and I'm sure they're thriving there and will go very far indeed.

KaliforniaDreamz Mon 02-Jul-18 15:05:54

I know 6 or 7 boys there and all are very bright but i wouldn't say particularly quirky/genius. I looked round it but not being able to afford it i was really going for a nose! i didnt think it would suit my lazy DS tho. i think you need to be pretty self motivated.

The boys i know there are very musical but also sporty and bright and very happy. HTH.

KaliforniaDreamz Mon 02-Jul-18 15:08:12

agree with you dontblameit
it's merely a numbers game now - obv not as many applicants for boarding schools for obvious reasons. london day schools are a bloody nightmare to get into.

Wincollparent Mon 02-Jul-18 16:18:57

As I said above I also agree that the frequency of brilliance and quirkiness is overstated by some posters.
However Winchester is doing something right in selection as very few leave at sixth form and their percentage of A* equivalent for A level is much higher at about 50% normally than Hampton for example. I guess they take more with a skewed academic profile rather than requiring all rounders and they are very good with SEN.
They do have a tail end of results partly because of SEN but also I think to a certain extent because the school is about independence and self motivation. IME a boy who is not self-motivated will be encouraged but not pushed into good grades.

propatria Mon 02-Jul-18 16:30:06

Winchester as a backup for Hampton and for "reasonably able students",thats hilarious...

Wornthreads Mon 02-Jul-18 16:31:45

That's an interesting comment Kalifornia - thanks for the update. Do you know if what sort of difference there is between the acceptance rates of St Pauls/Westminster 'v' Harrow/Eton?

DS gets a huge amount from the boarding environment and as a result of boarding his time playing 'Fornite' is limited to exeats and holidays (grin). Fairly sure we'd come unstuck if he was a day boy, with us trying to convince him that 'prep' was more important than Xbox!

Just another thought about the boys characters at Wincoll. We bumped into a friends DS in January during a visit there. He's in college and won a scholarship a couple of years ago. He was/is very bright. We hadn't seen him since he started and TBH he was never what could be called 'main stream'. I don't know the reason, but he'd developed a strange habit of rolling his eyes (and head) whilst thinking about his next sentence. For example, we were at an event where there were refreshments and I asked him if he wanted a hot chocolate. He seemed almost entirely unable to work out if he wanted a hot chocolate (or not). In the time he'd worked out that he wanted one, I'd already bought it for him. He then took ages working out the best way to say thank you e.t.c. I decided not to ask him if he wanted a packet of sweets, as the interval was only fifteen minutes (grin). We're friends with his DD and DM and have known the family for years, so we were surprised at this boy's change from straightforward conversation to stilted uncertainty. Oddly, we then saw their entire family together a few weeks later and his DM told us how well it was all going for her DS at Wincoll (how happy he was e.t.c). The boy had told us there were some exceptionally 'gifted' boys there and we assumed he was struggling to keep up with them. I guess, the commoner boys feel less of a need to be at the top of the class, but there was a definite change in confidence in approach in this particular boy and he'd gone from 'nice' age 12 to 'quirky' age 14ish.

Wornthreads Mon 02-Jul-18 16:33:25

Forgive the lack of ability on the emogees (should have gone to Wincoll to be clever enough to add them properly)

Nagsnovalballs Mon 02-Jul-18 16:48:44

Honestly? I went on a scholarship to the girls’ school nearby and having shared events academically and socially with them, I would say the majority are weird and the rest are pretty arrogant. Big issues with drugs too, although mainly just weed, which is better than the coke in other places. Most other boys’ public schools alumni think of them as intelligent, shit at sport and weird. (They tend to wear leather necklace chokers and harem pants and go and smoke opium or hash in Vietnam whilst pretending to be impoverished on their gap yah). But then, I find most public school boy types a little wearing, so don’t perhaps listen to that viewpoint. The only major name school I’ve known that does not produce public school paternalistic arrogance in boys is Downside, but they aren’t stellar grades-wise (but still better than Milton Abbey and Stowe, where kids are mostly marking time until they inherit). Having spoken to quite a few from there, it seems there is an enormous emphasis on community and humility, possibly because of its Catholic ethos (don’t worry, only four of its monk teachers have been jailed, and the school has now severed ties with the monastery and doesn’t allow monks to teach any more, and they have a lay headmaster).

However, I’m just a former private tutor who had to deal with all the public schools who were “failing kids” (although that mainly came down to kids blaming the teachers [hmmm]). Schools that came up frequently over the ten years that I tutored for GCSE and A Level: Cheltenham, Shiplake, Teddies, Eton, Harrow, Milton Abbey and Stowe (those two a lot!). Never Radley or Winchester - make of that what you will! But in my opinion, if you are going to spend a lot on education, you don’t want to be forced into topping up in the holidays with extra tutoring.

Wincollparent Mon 02-Jul-18 17:30:10

Wormthreads teenagers quite often go through a relatively mute stage or develop other issues so I would n't overinterpret that as being due to the school.
Some parents on these Winchester threads also seem to find it rather difficult to make a decision for school choices wink.
I would suggest when there is a choice to go for the school that your DS and you are most drawn to and comfortable at rather than overanalysing heresay and reports. Life is too short to overthink these things and there will always be some risk that you can't analyse for.
If it is not clear now and you can wait before deciding just leave it until the last minute.

Wincollparent Mon 02-Jul-18 17:45:10

We love the idea of our D.S being educated in one of the best schools (if not the best) in the world,
Your focus on school status may be making your decision harder than it should be. If Harrow feeld better for your DS then most likely it is.

KaliforniaDreamz Mon 02-Jul-18 17:45:49

worm i just think it's obvious that more people apply to day school so you get way more kids going for 1 place. i don't know any statistics though.

I def think Wincollege is a highly academic environment where you are expected to make the most of all that is on offer (incredible music dept etc etc) and if you don't your parents are wasting their money.

St Paul's was prob the only day school that could compare. (harder to get into tho!)
if you can afford it and you both like it go for it! don't over think it! wincoll is right there!

Wornthreads Tue 03-Jul-18 23:54:54

Wincollparent, assuming that English schools are the best in the world (and I am guessing that’s one of the reasons overseas parents send their DS’s to England from so many and varied countries), your comment about status is completely irrelevant.

My understanding is Wincoll had the best (on a par with Eton) Oxbridge places @ 33%. They are a small school compared to almost any other, they have a much better teacher/pupil ratio than any other, there are more professors there than any other, they take pre - U’s not A levels (which are a more basic qualification and taken at Harrow) and although not entirely relevant, there are ‘river keepers’ on the payroll (that continued commitment to ensuring the beauty of the place is phenomenal).

One of my concerns about sending DS to Wincoll is the topic of this thread (quirky boys/weirdos).

I was struck by your status comment, as it smacked of insecurity (like short man syndrome), which is not an endearing trait. With a third of the boys going to Oxbridge, there’s no need to be at all defensive. Particularly, as the same cannot be said for Harrow (but it can for Eton) although DS is only on the waiting list there.

Having experienced some of the div lessons at Wincoll earlier this year, they’re absolutely amazing. None of the other schools do Div on a Saturday night, which when paying for education ensures paying parents are assured their DS’s get what Americans call a ‘better bang for their buck’!

I guess the main question is, after five years at senior school, would it be better to have a leaver heading to Oxbridge having enjoyed their five years at Wincoll but potentially socially inept/wierd/quirky, or heading to another further education place with the ability to ‘rub along’ and be a leader (rather than a follower).

Wincollparent Wed 04-Jul-18 05:24:11

I was struck by your status comment, as it smacked of insecurity (like short man syndrome), which is not an endearing trait. With a third of the boys going to Oxbridge, there’s no need to be at all defensive

confused I am making no claim about relative 'status' for Winchester or any other school (or any meglomaniac comments about UK schools being 'best' in the world). I don't really see the point of that, although some parents (and you seem to be one of them) do care and are competitive about perceived school status.
My DS has had a fantastic time and education at Winchester and so have most of the boys at his school without undue stress at least certainly not originating from the school.

There are some for whom it is not such a good fit and usually that is because the parents wanted Winchester more than their DSs did. If your DS prefers Harrow or Eton or wherever and you also feel more comfortable with these schools go with your instincts and do not stagnate in indecisiveness just as you saw your friends' DS do. Or as I said before just postpone the decision until your DS matures further and knows his own mind.
For what it is worth, I don't see the Winchester and its pupils creating 'quirky' boys from 'normal' boys. Quirky boys however are not made to feel awkward or to conform to a certain type. ASD traits inevitably are more prevalent in a very bright cohort and can increasingly manifest during and beyond adolescence.
Generally the sixth formers and leavers of a school best represent how the boys develop through their time there and what they get out of it, not snapshots of awkward teenagers. However family influences will also of course input into how a boy grows up.

Wincollparent Wed 04-Jul-18 05:37:41

BTW Div does n't happen on Saturday eveining but every school day. The boys do their Div task on Saturday evening.
As for leadership, well there is plenty of opportunities to develop leadeship if a boy has those natural qualities. I personally value inner confidence rather than false or over confidence.

Battleax Wed 04-Jul-18 05:56:53

@wormthreads are you aware of your own obnoxiousness and disablism?

propatria Wed 04-Jul-18 12:49:34

Worn..Where exactly are you getting some of your info?
Eton and Winchester get 33% to Oxbridge? Evidence for both please..
Winchester is not" small compared to almost any other"
Winchester has a" better pupil teacher ratio than any other".Evidence please..
There are more Professors than any other..could you name some of these Professors?
If you think Div is so fantastic ..ask a few Win coll boys /parents exactly what they do for the first three years in Div,also look at what other schools offer,they might not call it Div,but Win really isnt unique in co curric..
Eton for example has a very good personal tutor system and the society talks etc are without equal.

Wornthreads Wed 04-Jul-18 14:22:42

Thanks for asking about my earlier posts. Didn't realise I was in the dock in a court and would need to provide 'evidence'!

Wowee, I'm new to all this and hadn't realised the emotions my posts would stir up. You do completely demonstrate my entire problem though, in that it is extremely difficult to get any solid info about a place that will take £200k plus of our money over the next few years. I guess the reason this site exist is because prospective parents are trying to get basic information that will help their DS's. Not sure the 'evidence exists' in a way you'd be satisfied with, and anyway as they say there are lies, damn lies and statistics.

In the meantime, the comment regarding my personal 'status' is a bit odd. Our DS is registered at what we think are the three best schools that would best suit his personality and character. The only place outside our immediate family that our DS's school has been discussed is on this forum (and a little bit when asked at his prep school). It's only possible to engage in this thread by openly describing the school's under consideration, so the comment about status is somewhat misplaced.

St Pauls ISI report states: 1406 pupils
Eton latest ISI report states: 1320 pupils
Oundle ISI report states: 1110 pupils
Rugby ISI report states: 802 pupils
Charterhouse report states: ISI 806
Westminster ISI report states: 742 pupils
Winchester ISI report states: 685 pupils
Sherbourne ISI report states: 551 pupils

The other info you've asked about will be provided when I get a chance.

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