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Eton College or Harrow School 2019

(128 Posts)
Wornthreads Mon 01-Oct-18 00:19:49

There are some out of date threads about this subject . Can anyone help identify the current positives in either or both schools? D.S will be going to one of them next September. New Head Masters e.t.c?

For example, Eton - is eat in house or Bekynton the way forward? Or, is that completely irrelevant and should we only consider the House Master?

Harrow, what sort of cohort are we likely to expect?

Thanks in advance for your kind assistance.

OP’s posts: |
Wornthreads Mon 01-Oct-18 00:21:36

Also, why discount other schools in favour of these two, and what schools are likely to be discounted, or favoured?

OP’s posts: |
TonTonMacoute Mon 01-Oct-18 11:44:20

They are both excellent schools, you have obviously been through the whole admissions process and your DS has been offered a place at both, why on earth would you be wondering about what other schools might be like at this stage?

If your DS is going next year you will soon be meeting Housemasters, why not just choose the one your DS likes best?

How do you expect people here to tell you what next years cohort is going to be like at any school. I think both schools like a variety, and yes, choosing Bekynton or a catering house is probably the least important thing to consider when choosing a house.

My DS was at Eton, btw, and I am happy to help, but your post is just so weird!

ChicagoLil Mon 01-Oct-18 22:16:02


Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-18 07:26:29

On the significance of Bekynton/eat in for Eton, the housemaster is far more important, you'll be dealing with them for the next 5 years so make sure you feel like you can communicate with them and that you will support them doing what they need to do with your son.

But for the rest of your post...if your son is starting one of them in September, surely after all these years of application process you have a good idea by now of what each school is like and what will suit your son? Both are excellent schools and have more similarities than differences. They're also big enough to suit most boys, whether sporty, academic, all-rounder, whatever.

Maybe tell us a bit about your son and his interests/personality and maybe something will jump out as being more suited to one or the other?

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-18 07:34:09

Meant to add, happy to answer any questions/concerns you may still about Eton, Harrow I know mainly from chatting to parents at matches and masters who have taught at both. Both schools are great and you don't have a bad choice really.

zzzzz Wed 03-Oct-18 07:39:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-18 07:46:24

zzzzz I'm assuming the OP's DS has been offered places at both and is trying to choose between them now. Otherwise yes, definitely too late for Sept 2019!!!

OP have you and DS met housemasters yet? You may find a lot of your questions will be answered at that point (about Eton at least).

peteneras Wed 03-Oct-18 17:57:35

Right at the very beginning, OP has already said "DS will be going to one of them next September". So there's no need to assume anything and the application process is now history. And for someone about to invest a quarter-of-a-million £££ in their child's education, it is no laffing [sic] matter either in trying to ascertain which school to plump for.

I would say, OP, if all else being equal, it would take a very brave person to opt for Harrow in favour of Eton. But all else are not equal here - not by a very, very massive margin!

Put it another way, would you rather spend your money on a relatively unknown school outside the shores of the United Kingdom or on one widely recognised as the most famous school in the world?

LesLavandes Wed 03-Oct-18 18:06:52

Peteneras. I think if you do a little research, you'll find Harrow is rather world famous also😊

OP. Something you may wish to consider, Eton is a much larger school than Harrow. For some children, that can seem daunting

zzzzz Wed 03-Oct-18 19:10:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ChicagoLil Wed 03-Oct-18 20:47:12

Yes, especially in Beijing and Bangkok.

zzzzz Wed 03-Oct-18 21:08:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Wornthreads Wed 03-Oct-18 22:08:16

Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

So to clarify:

DS has already received an offer from each school.

I now get the point about the importance of House Masters (thank you) and will meet them later this month at Eton (already done that at Harrow - been allocated what we believe could be a brilliant House Master and great fit for our DS).

Replying to the comment about how can a person get this far into the process without knowing about the schools, not sure if you've been through this process or not, but it's not at all easy to know much about a school after a one hour tour from a boy who's given up his time (and is keen to get back to his own stuff) to give you a tour round the place. Not sure if you know, but you don't just rock up at Eton admissions office and say, 'O.K chaps, let's get a second, third, fourth or even fifth tour round the place (like a poster wrote about Winchester on another thread). We were very much made to feel fortunate that a boy was taking his time to show us round what he thought were the important parts of the school, for about an hour, once during this process. That's it at Eton - about an hour to decide if you like it or not and like peteneras says, most people spending the thick end of £250k would take more than an hour to find out about their purchase. At Harrow, there was a more considered approach. For example, during the test, Eton admissions said, 'Thank you for dropping your son off. He'll be ready to collect at x time'. At Harrow, they said, 'You've all probably had a long journey to get here and you're welcome to help yourself to a coffee, here's the wifi code. You're welcome to stay here and catch up on e-mails/work. Feel free to join Mrs X and take have another guided tour of the school where you can ask her as many questions as you like, or walk around the school grounds (here's a map) on your own.

We felt like Harrow was as much a club than a school, with Old Harrovians looking out for each other in later life (work experience e.t.c). Is that the case (or not). If so, does Eton have what we've perceived to be this kind of old boys network. Also, that is a great point about the overseas reach. Reputation is one thing. Current activity is another. For example, can anyone elaborate on the deal with Harrow's presence in China?

Head Master at DS prep said although Eton is bigger, the houses are much smaller (50 boys at Eton 'v' 70 at Harrow). Is that of any relevance (or not)?

In the meantime, there's no family pressure either way. We all just want DS to be happy and to have the best opportunities (which if those are leavers destinations is really only Eton). I have met some really impressive Etonians and some not so (meaning, they are not all charismatic leaders). The Harrovians I know are all charismatic too, and they are all exceptionally considerate and polished gentlemen. Interestingly, in the particular environment I have met these guys in, the Harrovians work for the Etonian. Is that the usual expectation?

DS is academic (but not a scholar), sporty (in all prep first teams), musical (grade 4, 5 & 6) on two instruments and singing. He's not the alpha ale type, is quite considered in his approach and fiercely independent. Has been boarding since 7 years old and is pretty ruthless when deciding on what activities he'll get involved in (or drop).

Please forgive my original post. It was late at night, and one of those days.

OP’s posts: |
SubtitlesOn Wed 03-Oct-18 22:30:36

Look online on their websites for the rugby matches played at home

On Saturday afternoons and (Wednesday or Thursday Harrow play on Thursdays and I think Eton are Wednesdays like most other teams on the local circuit)

Go along with your DS to both schools and watch the matches and maybe talk to the parents already there during the half time and afterwards at the tea

Then you can see how the boys are with each other and not see a "polished and maybe unrealistic" version of the school

Or go to a concert at each school to see the musical ability of each school and chat to the parents in the interval also you will see how the boys are with each other and with the public

SubtitlesOn Wed 03-Oct-18 22:34:12

Obviously there aren't as many parents there as there are with day boys schools but in the matches that we played them.

There were always some parents or grandparents there watching and cheering he boys on

SubtitlesOn Wed 03-Oct-18 22:34:43

No idea what happened there sorry

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-18 22:48:48

Your prep headmaster is correct about the house sizes and I agree that it makes a difference - 50 boys means that you're only with a group of 10 in your own year in the house making it easier for your housemaster to get to know the boy and his parents, and then you also have your tutor group with boys from other houses as well which is a group of 6. So if your son find himself butting heads with his housemaster he has other pastoral figures to go to if needed. It also means that looking after 50 boys you have a housemaster, deputy, and assistant who are all masters, in addition to the dame, her deputy and the house staff. (In college where there are 70 boys, there is also an extra dame, and the housemaster's deputy lives in as well.) Also I believe Eton is unique in guaranteeing that every boy has his own room the whole way through, which means they can retreat and shut the door when they need to.

I think your son sounds fantastic, the main thing I see for boys at Eton who don't like it or don't flourish are those who are not self-starters and need hand holding and direction. It is a big school with a lot going on, and very low tolerance for boys who want to sit in their rooms gaming. It's also not a school for a boy who is going to pour his life and soul into one single activity or subject or play a sport to GB level, for instance - it's more of an all-rounder kind of place. If you had said "my son plays chess all day, he's on the UK junior chess team playing tournaments round the country each weekend, hopes to be a chess grandmaster and kind of begrudges doing anything that's not chess" (replace chess for football/clarinet/maths or whatever) then I would say - Eton might not be a great fit for him.

I don't know anything about Harrovians working for Etonians or anything like that but remember that OEs you'll meet in the wild, especially in senior management positions, are likely to have left the school quite a few years ago before they really started enforcing academic standards on entry, got rid of birth lists and sibling entry and all that stuff. Something like 70% of Etonians these days enter with no connection to the school at all (like an OE family member) - 15 years ago this was the other way around and the majority of boys were from OE connected families.

I haven't said much about Harrow but my impressions are good from the teachers who have moved from there to Eton. I only know of one who has gone the other way around (and to a big management promotion, so slightly different set of circumstances). However, both schools have low turnover of staff which is a good thing.

And on the "name brand" - of course the Harrow name is known in many places abroad but Eton is more widely recognised around the world. But that's not the be all and end all. My brother went to a school here in the UK that you would recognise immediately but few in China have heard of - but they had heard of his university and his degree, and combined with other skills he got a job and a visa. Maybe if he'd been at Eton there would have been even more opportunities but it's hard to say. I honestly wouldn't make your decision on this ground unless it was a total toss up and all else was equal, but I suspect it won't be after you visit Eton this month!

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-18 22:54:20

Subtitles idea of going to a match is a great one, and you can also ask when you come to meet housemasters if there is anything else going on that day to combine with your visit (or ask on here, or look at fixtures on the school website).

What does your DS want? Has he expressed a preference? I suppose maybe not until you've met housemasters.

Xiaoxiong Wed 03-Oct-18 23:06:46

Also I apologise for my comments about surely you must have a good idea already at this late stage - many families visit prior to registration, then again in year 6 they have the test, many come to the fourth of june, st andrews day, etc to get an idea of what the school is about and then once they've met housemasters in Year 7 they also come back a few times in the intervening two years before their son starts in F block. So I just assumed you'd been here loads and loads of times already if your son is starting in Sept 2019 - sorry for the assumption and I will feed back to the admissions people that maybe they could lay something on for parents of boys taking the test!

SubtitlesOn Thu 04-Oct-18 01:39:28

I think that both of the schools are known to the same level worldwide

I really think that shouldn't influence where to send your DS next year

Also, where old boys (who are now adults in their 40s and older) went to school I don't think is very relevant nowadays to your son

Both sets of old boys will help the new leavers, that is the same in all good private schools, not just Eton & Harrow

Small groups for him to live with is great if they all get on together but it doesn't make for a happy atmosphere if the small number in your house are not getting on together. In that case having more choice of friends is better. iyswim

What does he think about the towns, their access to London, transport links for visits to maybe see him in concert or a match, coming home?
Social life with local girls schools for balls and parties etc.?
Are they allowed their own car at school?

peteneras Thu 04-Oct-18 23:53:24

"I think if you do a little research, you'll find Harrow is rather world famous also😊"
When I was doing my research, there's a good possibility that you haven't even heard of Harrow, my dear!
Yes, that's what Harrow dream about - wannabe world famous like Eton, but I'm afraid, that's just Harrow's fantasy.

peteneras Fri 05-Oct-18 00:19:32

"I love the idea that Harrow is unheard of outside of the uk"

"Yes, especially in Beijing and Bangkok."

Oh, and not forgetting Shanghai too.

That's what Harrow is all about. Cashing in on their name with wealthy expatriates overseas and local elite families in big cities - some might say prostituting themselves! This is hardly "world famous" known to everyone, is it?

And to think that Harrow School is registered as a "charity" in the UK . . .

Other than a few token activities with a few state schools in north London, one wonders what other real charitable deeds Harrow has done? Sponsoring any state schools, anyone?

peteneras Fri 05-Oct-18 00:42:48

This is what I call "world famous" and known to everyone. . . a school that any good school worth its salt the world over would like to imitate and follow; from India to multi-racial Malaysia.

From The Middle East over continent and ocean alike to The Far East.

From the bushes of Africa to the Indian subcontinent of Sri Lanka.

IdaBWells Fri 05-Oct-18 01:08:45

“Harrow: a very British School” with eight episodes is on Amazon Prime if anyone is interested. It was filmed in 2012/13.

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