Eton College was founded by King 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.
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 thenave 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.
There are around 1,300 boys in the school aged between 13 and 18. Most boys are resident in the United Kingdom and the vast majority arrive at age 13 and remain in the school for five years. Financial assistance is available, currently 20% of boys receive support through scholarships and bursaries.
A central feature of Eton is that all boys are full-time boarders and live within small communities of about 50 boys in a house, where they each have their own room. Boarding requires boys to take responsibility for organising their own lives and to learn to live within a small and cohesive community. The house provides them with a secure base and a focus of loyalty within the larger school. The house system provides excellent opportunities for boys to discover their leadership skills in their final two years in the school.
Each house is supervised by a house master, appointed from the experienced masters at the school. His role is to oversee and guide the development of each boy in his charge. The house master is the immediate point of contact for parents, facilitating quick and efficient communication. He is assisted by a dame , and domestic staff. The dame is responsible for overseeing the health and physical wellbeing of the boys and is supported by a comprehensive medical team at the Sanatorium. She provides another strand to the pastoral care system and another point of direct contact for parents.
Most of Eton’s 1300 students enter the school at age 13. An old system under which boys could be registered at birth with a future house master was abolished some years ago, and virtually all candidates now go through a pre-assessment at age 11. The assessment consists of an interview, a reasoning test and a report from the boy’s current school. Those offered conditional places must then pass the qualifying examination (Common Entrance) at age 13 to secure their place, or do at least reasonably well in the more challenging King’s Scholarship examination.
We are usually able to offer conditional places to about one third of the candidates at age 11. Others are placed on a waiting list to replace any who may withdraw later.
In order to take the assessment boys must be registered by the age of 10 years 6 months at the latest. This is a firm deadline.
Introductory tours can be arranged through the Admissions Office. This is best done when a boy is aged 10.
Boys are placed in houses by mutual agreement between families and house masters, after a series of meetings following the award of a conditional place. A contract is then signed with the school, and an entry fee (currently £1600) is paid to secure the place. £1100 of that deposit is returned when the boy leaves the school at age 18 with all fees settled. Both the registration fee and the entrance fee may be waived in case of parental need.
A small number of boys who have not secured conditional places may enter at age 13 by winning a King’s Scholarship or Music Scholarship. Both scholarships are highly competitive.
Entry at age 16 : we have a Sixth Form Scholarship scheme for boys at UK schools, and in some years we can also take a small number of fee-paying Sixth Form Entrants.
The entry system is managed by the tutor for admissions on the Head Master’s behalf. The Head Master reserves the right to refuse to admit any boy.
It is essential that the Admissions Office is kept up to date with any change of address, guardianship or preparatory school. Eton cannot accept responsibility for correspondence which goes astray.