Eton College

Eton College
Eton College

Eton, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Coordinates 51°29′31″N 0°36′29″W / 51.49187°N 0.60792°W / 51.49187; -0.60792Coordinates: 51°29′31″N 0°36′29″W / 51.49187°N 0.60792°W / 51.49187; -0.60792
School type Independent school
Motto Floreat Etona
(Let Eton Flourish)
Religious affiliation(s) Anglican
Patron saint(s) Saint Nicholas
Founded 1440
Founder Henry VI
LEA Windsor and Maidenhead
Ofsted number SC011265
Headmaster Tony Little
Provost William Waldegrave
Staff 135 (approx.)
Gender Boys
Age 13 to 18
Enrollment c. 1,300
Houses 25
Colour(s)      Eton blue
  • The Chronicle
  • The Spectrum
  • The Arts Review
Former pupils Old Etonians

Eton College, often referred to simply as Eton, is a British independent school for boys aged 13 to 18. It was founded in 1440 by King Henry VI as "The King's College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor".[1]

It is located in Eton, near Windsor in England, north of Windsor Castle, and is one of the original nine English public schools as defined by the Public Schools Act 1868.

Eton has a long list of distinguished former pupils. David Cameron is the nineteenth British Prime Minister to have attended Eton.[2][3]

Eton has traditionally been referred to as "the chief nurse of England's statesmen",[4] and has been described as the most famous public school in the world.[5] Early in the 20th century, a historian of Eton wrote, "No other school can claim to have sent forth such a cohort of distinguished figures to make their mark on the world".[6]

The Good Schools Guide called the school "the number one boys' public school," adding, "The teaching and facilities are second to none."[7] The school is a member of the G20 Schools Group.



The school is headed by a Provost and Fellows (Board of Governors), who appoint the Head Master. It contains 25 boys' houses, each headed by a housemaster, selected from the more senior members of the teaching staff, who number some 160.[citation needed] Almost all the school's pupils go on to universities, about a third of them to Oxford or Cambridge.[8]

The present Head Master, Anthony Little MA, is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and the school is a member of the Eton Group of independent schools in the United Kingdom.

Eton today is a larger school than it has been for much of its history. In 1678, there were 207 boys. In the late 18th century, there were about 300 boys, while in the modern era, the total has risen to over 1,300.[9]


The Courts, Eton College

Eton College was founded by Henry VI as a charity school to provide free education to seventy poor boys who would then go on to King's College, Cambridge, founded by the same King in 1441. Henry took Winchester College as his model, visiting on many occasions, borrowing its Statutes and removing its Headmaster and some of the Scholars to start his new school.

When Henry VI founded the school, he granted it a large number of endowments, including much valuable land, a plan for formidable buildings (Henry intended the nave of the College Chapel to be the longest in Europe) and several religious relics, supposedly including a part of the True Cross and the Crown of Thorns. He persuaded the then Pope, Eugene IV, to grant him a privilege unparalleled anywhere in England: the right to grant Indulgences to penitents on the Feast of the Assumption.

However, when Henry was deposed by Edward IV in 1461, the new king annulled all grants to the school and removed most of its assets and treasures to St George's Chapel, Windsor, on the other side of the River Thames. Legend has it that Edward's mistress, Jane Shore, intervened on the school's behalf. She was able to save a good part of the school,[10] although the royal bequest and the number of staff were much reduced.

Construction of the chapel, originally intended to be slightly over twice as long,[11] with eighteen - or possibly seventeen - bays (there are eight today) was stopped when Henry VI was deposed. Only the Quire of the intended building was completed. Eton's first Provost, William Waynflete, founder of Magdalen College, Oxford and previously Head Master of Winchester College,[12] built the ante-chapel that finishes the Chapel today.

As the school suffered reduced income while still under construction, the completion and further development of the school has since depended on wealthy benefactors. Many of these are honoured with school buildings in their name. They include Bishop William Waynflete and Roger Lupton, whose name is borne by the central tower, perhaps the most famous image of the school.

In the 19th century, the architect John Shaw Jr (1803–1870) became surveyor to Eton. He designed new parts of the college which helped provide better pupil accommodation.

The Duke of Wellington is often quoted as saying that "The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing-fields of Eton".[13] Wellington was at Eton from 1781 to 1784 and was to send his sons there. According to Nevill (citing the historian Sir Edward Creasy), what Wellington said, while passing an Eton cricket match many decades later, was, "There grows the stuff that won Waterloo",[14] a remark Nevill construes as a reference to "the manly character induced by games and sport" amongst English youth generally, not a comment about Eton specifically.

In 1959, the college constructed a nuclear bunker to house the College's Provost and Fellows. The facility is now used for storage.[15]

In 2005, the school was one of fifty of the country's leading independent schools found guilty of running an illegal price-fixing cartel, which had allowed them to drive up fees for thousands of parents. The schools made clear that they had not realised that the change to the law (which had happened only a few months earlier) about the sharing of information had subsequently made it an offence.[16] Each school was required to pay a nominal penalty of £10,000; and all agreed to make ex-gratia payments totalling £3,000,000 into a trust designed to benefit pupils who attended the schools during the period when fee information was shared.[17]
In 2011, plans to attack Eton were found on the body of a senior al-Queda leader shot dead in Somalia.[18]

School terms

There are three academic terms[19] (known as halves)[20] in the year,

  • The Michaelmas Half, from early September to mid December. New boys are now admitted only at the start of the Michaelmas Half, unless in exceptional circumstances.
  • The Lent Half, from mid-January to late March.
  • The Summer Half, from late April to late June or early July.

They are called halves because the school year was once split into two halves, between which the boys went home.

Boys' houses

King's Scholars

One boarding house, College, is reserved for seventy King's Scholars, who attend Eton on scholarships provided by the original foundation and awarded by examination each year; they pay up to 90% of full fees, depending on their means. Of the other pupils, up to a third receive some kind of bursary or scholarship. The name "King's Scholars" derives from the fact that the school was founded by King Henry VI in 1440 and was, therefore, granted royal favour. The original school consisted of only seventy scholars, half of whom had previously been educated at Winchester College, and all of these boys were educated at the King's expense.

King's Scholars are entitled to use the letters "KS" after their name and they can be identified by a black gown worn over the top of their tailcoats, giving them the nickname tugs (Latin: togati, wearers of gowns); and occasionally by a surplice in Chapel. The house is looked after by the Master in College.


As the school grew, more students were allowed to attend provided that they paid their own fees and lived in the town, outside the college's original buildings. These students became known as Oppidans, from the Latin word oppidum, meaning town.[21] The Houses developed over time as a means of providing residence for the Oppidans in a more congenial manner, and typically contain about fifty boys. Although classes are organised on a school basis, most boys spend a large proportion of their time in their House. Each House has a formal name, mainly used for post and people outside the Eton community. It is generally known by the boys by the initials or surname of the House Master, the teacher who lives in the house and manages the pupils in it.

Not all boys who pass the College election examination choose to become King's Scholars. If they choose instead to belong to one of the 24 Oppidan Houses, they are known as Oppidan Scholars.[22] Oppidan scholarships may also be awarded for consistently performing with distinction in school and external examinations. To gain an Oppidan Scholarship, a boy must have either three distinctions in a row or four throughout his career. An Oppidan Scholar is entitled to use the letters OS after his name.

The Oppidan Houses are named The Hopgarden, South Lawn, Waynflete, Evans', Keate House, Warre House, De Villiers House, Godolphin House, Common Lane House, Penn House, Walpole House, Hawtrey House, Cotton Hall, Wotton House, Holland House, Mustians, Jourdelay's, Angelo's, Manor House, Durnford House, Farrer House, Baldwin's Bec, The Timbralls, and Westbury. As noted above, they are almost always referred to by the initials of their occupying housemaster, such as "RPDF", which refers to Hawtrey House.

House structure

In addition to the housemaster, each house has a House Captain and a House Captain of Games. Some Houses choose to elect more than one. House prefects were once elected from the oldest year, but this no longer happens. The old term, Library, survives in the name of the room set aside for the oldest year's use, where boys have their own kitchen. The situation is similar with the boys in their penultimate year, who have a similar room known as Debate.

There are entire house gatherings every evening, usually around 8:05-8:30 p.m. These are known as Prayers, due to their original nature. The housemaster and boys have an opportunity to make announcements, and sometimes the boys provide light entertainment. Many inter-house competitions occur, mostly in the field of sport.

For much of Eton's history, junior boys had to act as fags, or servants, to older boys. Their duties included cleaning, cooking, and running errands. A Library member was entitled to yell at any time and without notice, "Boy, Up!" or "Boy, Queue!", and all first-year boys had to come running. The last boy to arrive was given the task. These practices, known as fagging, were partially phased out of most houses in 1970s. Captains of House and Games give yet more tasks to first-year boys, such as collecting the mail.

Head Masters of Eton College (1442 - Present day)


Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in Eton dress in 1914

The school is known for its traditions, including a uniform of black tailcoat (or morning coat) and waistcoat, false-collar and pinstriped trousers. Most pupils wear a white tie that is effectively a strip of cloth folded over into a starched, detachable collar, but some senior boys are entitled to wear a white bow tie and winged collar ("Stick-Ups"). There are some variations in the school dress worn by boys in authority, see School Prefects and King's scholars sections.

The long-standing claim that the present uniform was first worn as mourning for the death of George III[23] is unfounded. "Eton dress" has undergone significant changes since its standardisation in the 19th century. Originally (along with a top-hat and walking-cane), Etonian dress was reserved for formal occasions, but boys wear it today for classes, which are referred to as "schools". As stated above, King's Scholars wear a black gown over the top of their tailcoats, and occasionally a surplice in Chapel. Members of the teaching staff (known as Beaks) are required to wear a form of school dress when teaching.

From 1820[24] until 1967, boys under the height of 5'4" were required to wear the 'Eton suit', which replaced the tailcoat with the cropped 'Eton jacket' (known colloquially as a "bum-freezer" or "arse-chiller") and included an 'Eton collar', a large, stiff-starched, white collar. The Eton suit was copied by other schools and has remained in use in some, particularly choir schools.[25]

Tutors and teaching

The pupil to teacher ratio is 10:1,[26] which is low by general school standards. Class sizes start at around twenty to twenty-five in the first year and are often below ten by the final year.

The original curriculum concentrated on prayers, Latin and devotion, and "as late as 1530 no Greek was taught".[27]

Later the emphasis was on classical studies, dominated by Latin and Ancient History, and, for boys with sufficient ability, Classical Greek. In recent times this curriculum has radically changed: for example, there are now more than 100 students of Chinese (non-curriculum course).[28] In the 1970s, there was just one school computer, in a small room attached to the science buildings. It used rolls of paper with punch-holes to store programs. Today, all boys must have laptop computers, and the school fibre-optic network connects all classrooms and all boys' bedrooms to the internet.[29]

The primary responsibility for a boy's studies lies with his House Master, but he is often assisted by an additional director of studies, known as a tutor.[30] Classes, colloquially known as "divs" (divisions), are organised on a school basis; the classrooms are separate from the houses. New school buildings have appeared in recent times but, despite the introduction of modern technology, the external appearance and locations of many of the classrooms have remained unchanged for a long time.

Every evening, about an hour and a quarter, known as Quiet Hour, is set aside during which boys are expected to study or prepare work for their teachers if not otherwise engaged.[31] Some houses, on the discretion of the House Master, may observe a second Quiet Hour after prayers in the evening. This is less formal, with boys being allowed to visit each others' rooms to socialise if neither boy has outstanding work.

The Independent Schools Inspectorate's latest report says, "Eton College provides an exceptionally good quality of education for all its pupils. They achieve high academic standards as a result of stimulating teaching, challenging expectations and first-class resources."[8]


At Eton, there are dozens of organisations known as 'societies', in many of which pupils come together to discuss a particular topic, presided over by a master, and often including a guest speaker.[32] Some societies are dedicated solely to music, some to religion, some to languages, and so on. Among past guest speakers are Andrew Lloyd Webber, J. K. Rowling, Vivienne Westwood, Ian McKellen, Kevin Warwick, Boris Johnson, Rowan Atkinson, Ralph Fiennes, Terry Wogan and King Constantine II of Greece.[33][34][35][36][37]

Incentives and sanctions

Eton has a well-established system for encouraging boys to produce a high standard of work. An excellent piece of work may be rewarded with a "Show Up", to be shown to the boy's tutors as evidence of progress.[38] If, in any particular term, a pupil makes a particularly good effort in any subject, he may be "Commended for Good Effort" to the Head Master (or Lower Master).

If any boy produces an outstanding piece of work, it may be "Sent Up For Good",[38] storing the effort in the College Archives for posterity. This award has been around since the 18th century. As Sending Up For Good is fairly infrequent, the process is rather mysterious to many of Eton's boys. First, the master wishing to Send Up For Good must gain the permission of the relevant Head of Department. Upon receiving his or her approval, the piece of work will be marked with Sent Up For Good and the student will receive a card to be signed by House Master, tutor and division master.

The opposite of a Show Up is a "Rip".[39] This is for sub-standard work, which is sometimes torn at the top of the page/sheet and must be submitted to the boy's housemaster for signature. Boys who accumulate rips are liable to be given a "White Ticket", which must be signed by all his teachers and may be accompanied by other punishments, usually involving doing domestic chores or writing lines. In recent times, a milder form of the rip, 'sign for information', colloquially known as an "info-rip", has been introduced, which must also be signed by the boy's housemaster and tutor.

Internal examinations are held at the end of the Michaelmas term for all pupils, and in the Summer term for those in the first year and those in the second year. These internal examinations are called "Trials".[40]

A boy who is late for any division or other appointment may be required to sign "Tardy Book", a register kept in the School Office, between 7.35am and 7.45am, every morning for the duration of his sentence (typically three days).[41] Tardy Book may also be issued for late work. For more serious misdeeds, a boy is summoned from his lessons to the Head Master, or Lower Master if the boy is in the lower two years, to talk personally about his misdeeds. This is known as the "Bill".[42] The most serious misdeeds may result in expulsion, or rustication (suspension). The term derives from the Latin word 'rus', countryside, to indicate that a boy has been sent back to his family in the country, and is also traditionally used at Oxford and Cambridge. Conversely, should a master be more than 15 minutes late for a class, traditionally the pupils might claim it as a "run" and absent themselves for the rest of its duration.

A traditional form of punishment took the form of being made to copy, by hand, Latin hexameters. Miscreants were frequently set 100 hexameters by library members, or, for more serious offences, Georgics (more than 500 hexameters) by their House Masters or the Head Master.[43] The giving of a Georgic is now extremely rare, but still occasionally occurs.

Corporal punishment

Eton used to be renowned for its use of corporal punishment, generally known as "beating". In the 16th century, Friday was set aside as "flogging day".[44]

Beating was phased out in the 1980s, the last recorded caning being administered by then Lower Master Jack Anderson to Sebastian Doggart, in January 1984.[45] Until 1964, offending boys could be summoned to the Head Master or the Lower Master, as appropriate, to receive a birching on the bare posterior, in a semi-public ceremony held in the Library, where there was a special wooden birching block over which the offender was held. John Keate, Head Master from 1809 to 1834, took over at a time when discipline was poor. He restored order by vigorous and frequent use of the birch. He is supposed to have flogged 80 boys publicly on one day.

Anthony Chenevix-Trench, Head Master from 1964 to 1970, abolished the birch and replaced it with caning, also applied to the bare posterior, which he administered privately in his office.[46] Chenevix-Trench also abolished corporal punishment administered by senior boys. Previously, House Captains were permitted to cane miscreants over the seat of the trousers. This was a routine occurrence, carried out privately with the boy bending over with his head under the edge of a table. Less common but more severe were the canings administered by Pop (see Eton Society below) in the form of a "Pop-Tanning", in which a large number of hard strokes were inflicted by the President of Pop in the presence of all Pop members. The culprit was summoned to appear in a pair of old trousers, as the caning would cut the cloth to shreds and leave the boy's buttocks bleeding. This was the most severe form of physical punishment at Eton.[47]

Chenevix-Trench's successor from 1970, Michael McCrum, retained private corporal punishment by masters, but ended the practice of requiring boys to take their trousers and underwear down when bending over to be caned by the Head Master. By the mid-1970s, the only people allowed to administer caning were the Head Master and the Lower Master.[48]


In addition to the masters, the following three categories of senior boys are entitled to exercise school discipline. Boys who belong to any of these categories, in addition to a limited number of other boy office holders, are entitled to wear winged collars with bow ties.

  • Eton Society:, commonly known as Pop.[49] Over the years its power and privileges have grown. Pop is the oldest self-electing society at Eton. The rules were altered in 1987 and again in 2005 so that the new intake are not elected solely by the existing year and a committee of masters. Members of Pop are entitled to wear checked spongebag trousers, and a waistcoat designed as they wish. Historically, only members of Pop were entitled to furl their umbrellas[50] or sit the wall on the Long Walk, in front of the main building. However, this tradition has died out. They perform roles at many of the routine events of the school year, including School Plays, parents' evenings and other official events. Notable ex-members of Pop include Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Boris Johnson.
  • Sixth Form Select: an academically selected prefectorial group consisting, by custom, of the 10 senior King's Scholars and the 10 senior Oppidan Scholars.[51] Members of Sixth Form Select are entitled to wear silver buttons on their waistcoats. They also act as Praepostors: they enter classrooms and ask, "Is (family name) in this division?" followed by "He's to see the Head Master at (time)" (the Bill, see above).[42] Members of Sixth Form Select maintain dress codes, and perform "Speeches", a formal event held five times a year.
  • House Captains: The captains of each of the 25 boys' houses (see above) have disciplinary powers at school level.[52] House Captains are entitled to wear a mottled-grey waistcoat.

In the era of Elizabeth I, there were two praepostors in every form, who noted down the names of absentees. Until the late 19th century, there was a praepostor for every division of the school.[44]


Sport is a major feature of Eton. There is an extensive network of playing fields. Their names include Agar's Plough, Dutchman's, Upper Club, Lower Club, Sixpenny/The Field, and Mesopotamia (situated between two streams and often shortened to "Mespots").

  • During the Michaelmas Half, the sport curriculum is dominated by football (called Association) and rugby union.
  • During the Lent Half it is dominated by the Field Game a code of football, but this is unique to Eton and cannot be played against other schools. Aided by AstroTurf facilities on Masters' field, Field Hockey has become a major Lent Half sport. Elite rowing also exists.
  • During the Summer Half, there is a division between wet bobs, who row on the River Thames, and dry bobs, who play cricket, tennis or athletics.

Dorney Lake, in Buckinghamshire, is owned by the college and will host the rowing events at the 2012 Summer Olympics and the World Junior Rowing Championships.[53]

The annual cricket match against Harrow at Lord's Cricket Ground is the oldest fixture of the cricketing calendar, having been played there since 1805. A staple of the London society calendar since the 1800s,[54] in 1914, its importance was such that over 38,000 people attended the two days' play, and in 1910 the match made national headlines.[55][56] But interest has since declined considerably, and the match is now a one-day limited overs contest.

There is a running track at the Thames Valley Athletics Centre and an annual steeplechase.

The Eton wall game is still played, and was given national publicity when it was taken up by Prince Harry. Notable among the many other sports played at Eton is Eton Fives.

The college famously invented The Roof Game, an invasion sport similar to basketball. Whose pitch markings, consisting of a wide starting area, a long, narrow 'shaft' and a circular goal area, were painted by students on the roof of a college building in 1894.[57] Teams took it in turn to dribble the ball down the shaft and into the goal area, while the defending team attempted to knock the ball out of the pitch. In 1919 an amateur balloonist photographed the pitch, having noticed that it looked phallic from above.[58] The game was immediately banned, and the pitch markings removed. In 2009 two students were expelled for attempting to recreate the pitch.[59]

In 1815, Eton College documented its football rules, the first football code to be written down anywhere in the world.[60]

Music and drama


The current "Precentor" (Head of Music) is Tim Johnson, and the school boasts eight organs and an entire building for music (performance spaces include the School Hall, the Farrer Theatre and two halls dedicated to music, the Parry Hall and the Concert Hall). Many instruments are taught, including obscure ones such as the didgeridoo. The school participates in many national competitions; many pupils are part of the National Youth Orchestra, and the school gives scholarships for dedicated and talented musicians.

The school's musical protégés recently came to wider notice when featured in a TV documentary A Boy Called Alex. The film followed an Etonian, Alex Stobbs, a musician with cystic fibrosis, as he worked toward conducting the difficult Magnificat by Johann Sebastian Bach.[61][62]


The exterior of Eton's main theatre, the Farrer.

Many plays are put on every year at Eton; there is one main theatre, called the Farrer (Seating 400) and 2 Studio theatres, called the Caccia and Empty Space (Seating 80 and 60 respectively). There are about 8 or 9 house productions each year, around 3 or 4 "Independent" plays (not confined solely to one house, produced, directed and funded by Etonians) and three School Plays, one specifically for boys in the first two years, and two open to all years. The School Play in the Summer Half has such a high reputation that it is normally fully booked every night. Productions also take place in varying locations around the school, varying from the sports fields to more historic buildings such as Upper School and College Chapel.

Most recently, the school has put on a musical version of The Bacchae as well as a production of "The Cherry Orchard" and "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum". In the Michaelmas term, it will be putting on a production of "Joseph K". Often girls from surrounding schools, such as St George's, Ascot, St Mary's School Ascot, Windsor Girls' School and Heathfield St Mary's School, come in to play female roles. Boys from the school are also responsible for the Lighting, Sound and Stage Management of all the productions, under the guidance of several professional full-time theatre staff.

The drama department is headed by Hailz-Emily Osborne, Simon Dormandy and several other teachers. The school offers GCSE drama as well as A-level "English with Theatre Studies."[citation needed]


Eton's best-known holiday takes place on the so-called "Fourth of June", a celebration of the birthday of King George III, Eton's greatest patron.[63] This day is celebrated with the Procession of Boats, in which the top rowing crews from the top four years row past in vintage wooden rowing boats. Similar to the Queen's Official Birthday, the "Fourth of June" is no longer celebrated on 4 June, but on the Wednesday before the first weekend of June. Eton also observes St. Andrew's Day, on which the Eton wall game is played.[citation needed]

School magazines

The Junior Chronicle and The Chronicle are the official school magazines, the latter having been founded in 1863.[64] Both are edited by boys at the school. Although liable to censorship, the latter has a tradition of satirising and attacking school policies, as well as documenting recent events. The Oppidan, founded in 1828,[64] was published once a Half; it covered all sport in Eton and some professional events as well, but no longer exists.

Other school magazines, including The Eton Zeitgeist, Spectrum and The Arts Review, have been published, as well as publications produced by individual departments such as The Cave (Philosophy), Etonomics (Economics) and Scientific Etonian (Science).

Charitable status and fees

Until 18 December 2010, Eton College was an exempt charity under English law (Charities Act 1993, Schedule 2). Under the provisions of the Charities Act 2006, it is now an excepted charity, and fully registered with the Charities Commission,[65] and is now one of the 100 largest charities in the UK.[66] As a charity, it benefits from substantial tax breaks. It was calculated by David Jewell, master of Haileybury, that in 1992 such tax breaks saved the school about £1,945 per pupil per year, although he has no direct connection with the school. This subsidy has declined since the 2001 abolition by the Labour Government of state-funded scholarships (formerly known as "assisted places") to independent schools. However, no child attended Eton on this scheme, meaning that the actual level of state assistance to the school has always been lower. Eton's headmaster, Tony Little, has claimed that the benefits that Eton provides to the local community free of charge (use of its facilities, etc.) have a higher value than the tax breaks it receives as a result of its charitable status. The fee for the academic year 2010-2011 is £29,862 (approximately US$48,600 or 35,100 as of March 2011),[67] although the sum is considerably lower for those pupils on bursaries and scholarships.

Eton runs a number of courses for pupils from the maintained sector (state schools), most of them in the summer holidays (July and August). Started in 1982, the Universities Summer School is an intensive residential course open to boys and girls throughout the UK who attend maintained schools, are at the end of their first year in the Sixth Form, and are about to begin their final year of schooling. The Brent-Eton Summer School, started in 1994, offers 40-50 young people from the London Borough of Brent a one-week programme, free of charge, designed to bridge the gap between GCSE and A-level.[68] The school also runs a number of choral courses during the summer months.


Lottery grant (1995)

In 1995 the National Lottery granted money for a £4.6m sports complex, to add to Eton's existing facilities of two swimming pools, 30 cricket squares, 24 football, rugby and hockey pitches and a gym.[69] The College paid £200,000 and contributed 4.5 hectares of land in return for exclusive use of the facilities during the daytime only.[69] The UK Sports Council defended the deal on the grounds that the whole community would benefit, while the bursar claimed that Windsor, Slough and Eton Athletic Club was "deprived" because local people (who were not pupils at the College) did not have a world-class running track and facilities to train with.[69] Steve Osborn, director of the Safe Neighbourhoods Unit, described the decision as "staggering" given the background of a substantial reduction in youth services by councils across the country, a matter over which, however, neither the College nor the UK Sports Council, had any control.[69] The facility, which became the Thames Valley Athletics Centre, opened in April 1999.[70]

Unfair dismissal of an art teacher (2004)

In October 2004, Sarah Forsyth claimed that she had been dismissed unfairly by Eton College and had been bullied by senior staff. She also claimed she was instructed to do some of Prince Harry's coursework to enable him to pass AS Art.[71] As evidence, Forsyth provided secretly recorded conversations with both Prince Harry and her head of department Ian Burke. An employment tribunal in July 2005 found that she had been unfairly dismissed and criticised Burke for bullying her and for repeatedly changing his story.[71] It also criticised the school for failing to produce its capability procedures and criticised the headmaster for not reviewing the case independently.[71]
It criticised Forsyth’s decision to record a conversation with Harry as an abuse of teacher-student confidentiality and said ”it was not convinced events had occurred exactly as ..described”.[71] In response to the tribunal's ruling concerning the allegations about Prince Harry, the school issued a statement, saying Forsyth's claims "were dismissed for what they always have been - unfounded and irrelevant."[72] A spokesperson from Clarence House said, "We are delighted that Harry has been totally cleared of cheating."

School fees cartel (2005)

In 2005, the Office of Fair Trading found fifty independent schools, including Eton, to have breached the Competition Act by "regularly and systematically" exchanging information about planned increases in school fees, which was collated and distributed among the schools by the bursar at Sevenoaks School.[73] Following the investigation by the OFT, each school was required to pay around £70,000, totalling around £3.5 million, significantly less than the maximum possible fine. In addition, the schools together agreed to contribute another £3m to a new charitable educational fund. The incident raised concerns over whether the charitable status of independent schools such as Eton should be reconsidered, and perhaps revoked.[74] However, Jean Scott, the head of the Independent Schools Council, said that independent schools had always been exempt from anti-cartel rules applied to business, were following a long-established procedure in sharing the information with each other, and that they were unaware of the change to the law (on which they had not been consulted). She wrote to John Vickers, the OFT director-general, saying, "They are not a group of businessmen meeting behind closed doors to fix the price of their products to the disadvantage of the consumer. They are schools that have quite openly continued to follow a long-established practice because they were unaware that the law had changed."[75]

Unproven allegations of an assault of a girl on the playing fields (2008)

In March 2008, four Etonians aged 13–14 were suspended by the school after allegedly assaulting and robbing a girl aged 13 on the school playing fields. The girl allegedly suffered from at least one broken rib, and allegedly had her handbag stolen by the boys, who were suspected of having consumed drugs and alcohol shortly before the attack.[76] She also claimed that one of the four boys had dropped his trousers and threatened to perform a sex act.[77]

University admissions (2010, 2011)

Figures obtained by The Daily Telegraph had revealed that, in 2010, 37 applicants from Eton alone were accepted by Oxford.[78] According to The Economist, Oxford and Cambridge admit more Etonians each year than applicants from the whole country who qualify for free school meals.[79] In April 2011 the Labour MP David Lammy described as unfair and 'indefensible' the fact that Oxford University had organised nine 'outreach events' at Eton in 2010, although he admitted that it had, in fact, held fewer such events for Eton than for another independent school, Wellington College. [80]

Historical relations with other schools

Eton College has links with some private schools in India today, maintained from the days of the British Raj, such as Mayo College in the state of Rajasthan and Doon School in Uttarakhand.[81] Eton College is also a member of the G20 Schools Group, a collection of college preparatory boarding schools from around the world, including South Africa's Diocesan College, the United States's Phillips Exeter Academy, Australia's Melbourne Grammar School and Scotch College, and Switzerland's International School of Geneva. Eton has recently fostered a relationship with the Roxbury Latin School, a traditional all-boys private school in Boston, USA. Former Eton headmaster and provost Sir Eric Anderson shares a close friendship with Roxbury Latin Headmaster emeritus F. Washington Jarvis; Anderson has visited Roxbury Latin on numerous occasions,[82] while Jarvis briefly taught theology at Eton after retiring from his headmaster post at Roxbury Latin. The headmasters' close friendship spawned the Hennessy Scholarship,[82] an annual prize established in 2005 and awarded to a graduating RL senior for a year of study at Eton. Hennessy Scholars generally reside in Wotton house.

Old Etonians

Past pupils of Eton College are known as Old Etonians. In recent years, the school has become popular with the British Royal Family; Princes William and Harry are Old Etonians. Eton has also produced nineteen British Prime Ministers, including William Ewart Gladstone, Sir Robert Walpole, the first Duke of Wellington, and the current Prime Minister, David Cameron. A rising number of pupils come to Eton from overseas, including members of royal families from Africa and Asia, some of whom have been sending their sons to Eton for generations. One of them, King Prajadhipok or Rama VII (1893–1941) of Siam, donated a garden to Eton.[83] The mediaevalist and ghost story writer M. R. James was provost of Eton from 1918 until his death in 1936. The English Antarctic explorer Lawrence Oates attended the school. The jazz trumpeter and radio broadcaster Humphrey Lyttelton attended Eton. Actors educated at Eton include Max Pirkis, Eddie Redmayne, Simon Woods, Damian Lewis, Dominic West, Jeremy Brett, Hugh Laurie, and Patrick Macnee. Musician Frank Turner also was at Eton. Other Old Etonians include Guy Burgess, George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, John Maynard Keynes and Henry More.

Fictional old Etonians

Many fictional characters have been described as Old Etonians. These include:

Partially filmed at Eton

Here follows a list of films partially filmed at Eton.[84]

In popular culture

  • A 1962 novel The Fourth of June by David Benedictus[85] (who attended Eton) was controversial, as it was considered an attack on cruelty and snobbery at the school in the 1950s.[86]
  • In the Harry Potter series, Justin Finch-Fletchley was going to go to Eton College.[87]
  • In Anthony Horowitz's book Point Blanc, the teenage spy Alex Rider pretends to have been expelled from Eton to gain access to the Point Blanc Academy.[88]
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's short story "William Wilson", the main character attended Eton College.
  • British punk/new wave group The Jam have a song entitled "The Eton Rifles".[89]
  • Head Master A R M Little's homemade video to the LL Cool J song Big Ole Butt became a popular viral video in January 2005.[90]
  • In Aldous Huxley's novel Brave New World, the main characters visit a school named Eton.[91] Huxley was an old Etonian who taught there.
  • The tag "where ignorance is bliss, ’Tis folly to be wise" is a quotation from Thomas Gray's Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.[92]
  • In the U.S. TV show The West Wing, the Interim Deputy Director of Communications Will Bailey notes that he was an Eton valedictorian: "I'll take my hazing like the Eton valedictorian that I am." [93]
  • Captain Hook from the novel Peter Pan went to Eton before turning to piracy.[94]
  • James bond from the Young Bond series went to Eton
  • The film Another Country is an interpretation of the experiences of Guy Burgess, the Soviet spy, during his student days at Eton. The climactic event of the film is a Pop-Tanning, represented as crystallizing the main character ('Guy Bennett')'s antipathy to the British class system which he considered the school's traditions to exemplify.


See also


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  6. ^ Nevill, p.1.
  7. ^ "Eton College | Windsor | LEA:Windsor & Maidenhead | Berkshire". The Good Schools Guide. Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
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  9. ^ Nevill, p.15, p.23.
  10. ^ Nevill. p.5.
  11. ^ Nevill, p.5.
  12. ^ Nevill, p.4.
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  14. ^ Nevill, p.125.
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  21. ^ McConnell, pp.19-20
  22. ^ McConnell, p.177
  23. ^ Nevill, p.33.
  24. ^ Nevill, p.34.
  25. ^ The Eton Suit at British Schoolboy Uniforms.
  26. ^ McConnell, p.70
  27. ^ Nevill, p.6.
  28. ^ "Departments and Available Qualifications". Eton College. 2008. 
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  32. ^ "Societies". Eton College. 2008. 
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  42. ^ a b McConnell, pp.83-84
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  50. ^ Nevill, p.35.
  51. ^ McConnell, pp.57,129-137
  52. ^ McConnell, pp.59-62
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  54. ^ Dunton, Larkin (1896). The World and Its People. Boston, MA: Silver, Burdett. p. 41. OCLC 4352850. 
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  65. ^ [ Eton College Registration with Charity Commission] Document creation date: 18 December 2010. Access date: 21 December 2011.
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  76. ^ Brown, David (14 March 2008). "Four pupils suspended over assault on playing fields of Eton". The Times (London).
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  80. ^ Chapman, James; Harris, Sarah (13 April 2011). "After PM's race row, Clegg wades into Oxbridge admissions row as he accuses them of being biased against poor students". Daily Mail (London). 
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  82. ^ a b "Jarvis Fund Lecture Welcomes Sir Eric Anderson". The Roxbury Latin School. Retrieved 17 June 2011. 
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  87. ^ Rowling, J.K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Vancouver: Raincoast Books. p. 73. ISBN 978-1-55192-244-7. 
  88. ^ "Alex Friend - Disguises - Alex Rider". Retrieved 24 June 2008. 
  89. ^ "Classic Tracks: The Jam 'The Eton Rifles'". Sound On Sound. Retrieved 26 November 2009. 
  90. ^ "Russell Brand Radio Show Collection : 2008". Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  91. ^ Pearce, David (2008). "Who's Who in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932)". Retrieved 24 June 2009. 
  92. ^ "''Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College''". Retrieved 2011-09-03. 
  93. ^ The West Wing, Season four, episode twelve "Guns not Butter", written by Eli Attie, Kevin Falls and Aaron Sorkin
  94. ^ McGinnis, Rachel. "The Real Life and Fictional Characters Who Inspired J.M. Barrie's Captain Hook". Retrieved 24 June 2009. 
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  • Nevill, Ralph (1911). Floreat Etona: Anecdotes and Memories of Eton College. London: Macmillan. OCLC 1347225
  • McConnell, J.D.R. (1967). Eton - How It Works. London: Faber and Faber. OCLC 251359076

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