My feed

to access all these features

Connect with other parents whose children are starting secondary school on this forum.

MNHQ have commented on this thread

Secondary education

Harrow v eton

161 replies

nokissymum · 05/06/2011 20:51

i started a thread before about people's experiences with Harrow and got a few responses but felt maybe I needed to word it differently.

I am hoping their are mners here who have more insight into both schools, what are the differences and why one and not the other. Thank you.

OP posts:
Colleger · 05/06/2011 21:07

Rubs hands. Are you ready Yellow and Peteneras? Wink


Size: 800 versus 1300

Location: grimey London versus touristy Windsor - both have flight noise!

Academic Selectivity: Eton more academically selective but Harrow more oversubscribed and most boys need to be a "package" so in theory it's harder to get into.

Harrow has a fiercely loyal network which prioritizes old boys sons and offers work experience to current pupils. Harrovians are known to be very arrogant!

Eton has better facilities, grounds and societies.

I think the reasons one school is chosen over another by first time buyers or no connection to the schools would include:

One is more famous which is seen as pro or con

One is academically more selective


Advice by prep Headmaster. Four Headmasters shrieked, "NO" when I suggested Harrow for very bright, unassumming son.

Just don't be the twit that stood up at the Harrow open day and asked why he should choose Harrow over Eton. Hmm Well, Harrow and Eton choose you so if he did the same at Eton he wouldn't have the choice of either!

carltonscroop · 05/06/2011 21:17

What do you mean by a "package" in this context?

nokissymum · 05/06/2011 21:46

colleger Thanks for your comments, What do you mean by "package" ?

OP posts:
nokissymum · 05/06/2011 21:51

collegeralso why were the headmasters shrieking at the mention of Harrow, sounds like a very strange reaction to a school seemingly very good school, could you expantiate a bit more please.

OP posts:
Yellowstone · 05/06/2011 21:55

Haha Colleger a mum claiming to be the DW of a Very Important Public School Headteacher's Wife stood up at an Oxford History Open Day recently and asked why her 'very able' DD should choose Oxford over Durham.

She failed to get the desired reaction :)

Other mums really slagged her off in the loos.

Yellowstone · 05/06/2011 21:59

What am I talking about? The DW of a VIPSH (NOT the DW of a VIPSHW - that would be weird).

Colleger · 05/06/2011 22:07

A "package" (lol) would be a boy that was fairly bright, good at sports and good at something else such as drama or music or took a lead at his prep school in setting up a society, being a member of the school newspaper, a prefect etc. He wouldn't necessarily need to be in the "A" team but the less bright would need to be even better in the areas mentioned.

Harrow and many other schools are looking for boys to fill their orchestras, represent the school at sport, take the lead etc. Eton too look for this but I have been told that their admissions process (not straight from the horses mouth) works along the lines of this:

Top 30% of computerised scores get a place and then the next 175 boys are chosen out of the remaining 700 so a boy who came last could still get in if he was very musical and very sporty for example.

My son is exceptionally able and although he is developing a backbone now he is quite compliant and not an "alpha male". It was felt there would be more like-minded boys at Winchester, more so than Eton but there are enough like-minded boys at Eton. Harrow offers an outstanding education but DS would have had less peers. He also has very little else to offer and I believe many prep Headmasters feel that Harrow is more agressive than Eton and Winchester.

Yellowstone · 05/06/2011 22:16

OP university outcomes appear to be significantly different also between the two schools, if that's of significance to you.

Yellowstone · 05/06/2011 22:17

Long day. I mean university destinations, not outcomes.

ChazsBrilliantAttitude · 05/06/2011 22:17

A couple of boys at my son's prep have got scholarships to Harrow in the last couple of years - generally they have been some combination of prefect, captain / member of one or more sports teams and reasonably musical. Someone else I know their son is sporty and a keen actor.

Colleger · 05/06/2011 22:28

Oxbrigde destintations have more to do with admissions though I suspect and Harrow seem to have very strong links with Newcastle and Edinburgh so this may also be a preference.

Harrow is also more international than Eton.

I always find it useful to look at the names of pupils going onto Oxbridge. Many schools tend to only send international students to Oxbridge and one has to question whether they may have entered the sixth form on academic scholarships boosting results. IMO pupils from certain countries have a far better work ethic than white British boys so if a school can send a lot of the latter to Oxbridge then I think this may be a good indication of their academic prowess. It may also be worth looking at the subjects as well as if the bulk from Eton or Harrow go to Oxbridge to read Music, Modern Languages or Classics then the competition is less fierce for such places as these subjects die out in state schools, and the achievement may not appear to be as impressive as initially thought.

Yellowstone · 05/06/2011 22:48

Colleger some stats are readily available but not all. Eton is a bit close with theirs and Harrow is not much better. Oxford is good. You're clearly very knowledgeable about subjects/ relative competitiveness. I thought you thought Oxford and Cambridge dulled academically in comparison to Eton and also that Ivy League eclipsed them all.

I can't help wondering how old your DS is. And I can't help wonder why it is that the geographical pie chart for Oxbridge entrance is so weighted in favour of the SE. Are DC with true academic potential really so concentrated geographically? Remarkable.

Colleger · 05/06/2011 23:19

My views change depending on my mood Yellowstone! Wink Anyway I do not want to rekindle that debate!

As for the SE it has the highest concentration of Public and Grammar schools and affluence which is probably why it is so heavily skewed. My children only attend schools in SE but they have Northern blood!

Yellowstone · 05/06/2011 23:23

Mine too. Me too. Mine too Colleger. This is taking years off me btw.

nokissymum · 06/06/2011 12:57

So getting back to the topic, it seems there isn't any real difference in the two schools other than size, facilities at eton a bit better, and the rest really might just be down to people's own experiences.

colleger I think I understand why someone would ask for advice to choose eton or Harrow, its where the question was asked that was daft and wrong wording.

In the first instance parents have to decide to apply, I think this is what that parent needed help with in deciding, once you apply it is then up to the school to "choose" you.

To parents unaffiliated there really doesn't seem to be much difference in terms of quality of education and curricular activities offered, the few differences seem down to preference, for instance I am not bothered by harrow's location at all, eton on the other hand is very far from where we live.

They both seem to be just as hard to get into, so will just have to wait and see.

headmaster advised against applying to both schools as it might not go down well with whoever is second choice, is this true ? Has anyone applied to both ?

OP posts:
regina12 · 06/06/2011 13:12

I would say that if, as stated above, university destinations differ considerably, (and I haven't checked this) then there is likely to be quite some difference between the schools, with regard to intake at the least.

housepiglet · 06/06/2011 13:32


"headmaster advised against applying to both schools as it might not go down well with whoever is second choice, is this true ? Has anyone applied to both ?"

I can't speak from personal experienced, but the documentary that was on last year about Sunningdale School showed boys attending for interview at Harrow who had also applied to Eton (one at least already had a place), or planned to do so.

nokissymum · 06/06/2011 13:35

Regina I don't quite follow the rationale of university destination influencing school intake, surely university destination will be dictated by what the child wants to study in future, which most dont have an idea of at point of entry to school.

So in effect are you saying that if a child wants to study IT for instance that might count against them as most graduants from eton go to Oxbridge and IT is not a popular subject to study at Oxbridge ? But if say the child at interview showed a flair for languages then child might have a better chance getting into eton as a lot of Etonians go on to study languages at Oxbridge ?

OP posts:
Yellowstone · 06/06/2011 13:47

regina 30% of Eton leavers go to Oxford or Cambridge and an average over the past few years of 11% do so from Harrow.

That's quite a considerable difference.

BelovedCunt · 06/06/2011 13:49

harrow has a lower percentage of anal prolapse but eton has a nice uniform. its a toughie alright

Colleger · 06/06/2011 13:51

On the face of it the schools seem similar but they do produce a different type of boy/man and the evidence suggests that Eton produces nicer boys.

As for applying to two it does depend on when your son's birthday falls. If it is before February then he would sit the Eton pre-test in Oct/Nov of Y6 with a decision in the December. If he failed to get in then there would still be time to apply to Harrow for the Y7 pre-test without ever telling either school that the boy was registered at both. It is uncommon though to only be registered at one school. Most tend to have choice one as: Eton, Harrow or Winchester and choice two as Radley or a co-ed option. DS was registered for Eton and Winchester which seems to be more common than Eton and Harrow as an OH parent would neer dream of sending son to Harrow and vice versa!

grovel · 06/06/2011 13:52

nokissymum, I'm sure the Eton admissions system couldn't give a stuff about an 11 year old's opinion of what he might want to read at university. The school
delights in getting a boy who arrives saying "I'm useless at xxxx subject" an A* in that subject. It's the ultimate test of successful teaching.

pink4ever · 06/06/2011 13:57

bc-Dont think they got itHmm.

Greythorne · 06/06/2011 13:59

did your son attend 4 prep schools?
just wondering how 4 headmasters shrieked "no" viz Harrow

Yellowstone · 06/06/2011 14:03

nokissy the selectivity at the point of entry to a school appears to be the single most important factor in determining the quality of leavers destinations.

Numbers from a school going to Oxford and Cambridge is a frequently cited measure of the quality of the school, rather like numbers of pupils on FSM being used as a measure to judge other characteristics of a school.

It's broad brush but it's clearly a useful tool and there's a clear correlation between those schools considered 'the best' and those sending large numbers, or a large percentage, off to those two universities.

ICT (or Computer Science) is a subject a student can opt for at Oxford and it's extremely competitive, with the independent sector having a far, far higher success rate than the maintained..

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.