Beauchamp College has maintained a successful partnership with the prestigious Eton College for several years. We have run a joint exchange project where six students from Eton College have spent a week with us to experience college life and have been hosted by Beauchamp students and their families. During the same week six of our students have spent a week at Eton College and have been immersed into life in a boarding school.
Diary extracts from the Spring 2018 exchange
Today we arrived at Eton at just after 12pm and we were given a short tour of the centre of Eton by Mr Noland, the Eton teacher in charge of the exchange. This included a bit of background about the two libraries at Eton, the main library for study and the College Library for rare manuscripts, a tour of the main court and the Eton College Chapel. We found out from this tour that the organ in the Eton College chapel is/has been the largest organ in Europe and that the murals on the wall had only been discovered in the last few years because they were catholic and had thus been hidden during protestant rule.
After this tour, I met up with Josh, the boy who I would be exchanging with, and he showed me to my room in Waynflete House and took me to the dame and the house head. I immediately felt really welcome as Josh was really chatty and both the dame and the house head (JMOB) were really nice. After taking me to the rooms of some of the other boys in the house in order to introduce me, Josh left for Beauchamp and I was then taken to lunch by Jeremy, where we ate roast chicken (although there was a large selection of choices including a vegetarian option and some cold food such as couscous) and lemon cake and where I was introduced to many of the other boys staying in the house. They were again really welcoming and helped to make me feel part of the school almost immediately.
After being shown Eton High Street by Jeremy after lunch, during which time I had the opportunity to ask many questions, we played some table tennis in the Games Room and then I returned to my room to do some work. After about an hour, Ollie came into my room to introduce himself, since I was to shadow him for the remaining two lessons of the day, and then we went to a café called “Tudors” which is renowned throughout Eton. Ollie very kindly bought me a Terry’s Chocolate Orange Milkshake and we immediately got on very well as we had many similar interests and aspirations. I then shadowed him to a lesson of “History of Art” which, although difficult to follow due to my lack of experience in the subject of Dada and its portrayal of revolution in art, was very interesting as it was a subject not taught at Beauchamp and I was aware that it was one of the A levels taken by Prince William.
I then followed Ollie to French where I felt able to hold my own despite being put on the spot a few times by the teacher, and was able to learn some good phrases. There was then a lecture on drugs given by a professor of Imperial College London which was again really fascinating. I then returned for dinner, had “Prayers” (a daily meeting in the Assembly Room for everyone in the house where the days sports results are read out) and then I went out to Global Society to listen to a talk given by Merlin Swine, the leader of a company with 35,000 employees, speak on the past and present economic relations of Britain and China. This was interesting as it showed the shifts in the balance of power between the two countries – China was dominant in 1793 when they first met as the Chinese emperor viewed the English emissary as the servant of an inferior king, but Britain became dominant in 1841 when it thoroughly defeated China in the Opium Wars and which also led to many concessions on the side of the Chinese including giving Hong Kong to England. By the late 1900s the relationship seemed quite balanced with Britain giving Hong Kong back to China; however now it seems that China is dominant as it is the much stronger economy, following its entry to the WTO in 2001.
On the Tuesday after breakfast, there was the “School Hall Challenge” which essentially was University Challenge but with houses competing against each other. This really opened my eyes because the difficulty of the questions that were asked was as hard, if not harder than the actual programme University Challenge and the boys still managed to get the majority of the questions correct. It wasn’t just the people who were partaking in the quiz who had this level of general knowledge, because every Etonian I met had a similar level of knowledge. I asked a teacher how the boys manage to be so well informed, and he accredited to them having a few lessons a week that are timetabled that they are not assessed in, but are there just to broaden their own understanding of the world. The School Hall Challenge was very interesting to see especially seeing how passionate the boys got behind their own houses. Attending more lessons eventually led to some reoccurring teaching styles which were that the lessons were very fast paced and discussion based. The teachers could do this because all the students are well behaved and all very capable academically. Furthermore, the notes the students took, were almost all done from a laptop/Ipad. Having said this, because the lessons were discussion based, there often wasn’t enough time for note taking so the teachers ended up emailing the notes to all the class. The lessons were also very interactive which I thought was very good.
We had another assembly today in the school hall where students were promoting the annual Etonian social enterprise challenge. I had to find my own way to my first lesson, I was given a map, but I read it wrong so ended up in the wrong place before correcting my course to get to the right building. I had another theology lesson where we planned our projects on globalisation. As my group was tasked with the impact on the environment, we chose to focus on plastic littering causing plastic islands in the sea and its effect on wildlife. This lesson was just a research lesson. My next lesson was a double maths where we covered logarithms something I had already done, Eton was on a different syllabus to Beauchamp, but Eton studies the maths syllabus from both year 1 and 2 books simultaneously, whereas Beauchamp doesn’t. During my readers (what Eton calls free periods) I and some Beauchamp friends went to look around Eton’s facilities and we were given a tour of the Eton student library by the student library keeper. In the games period, I went to play squash this time, which is slightly harder than racquetball as the rackets are smaller and the ball is less bouncy. After games, I had another economics lesson where we played a card game for the majority of the lesson. After dinner, during the play/society school, I went to the maths society with a group of friends. The students were going through the years maths Olympiad questions and their own solutions. The questions were very complex, but the younger students at Eton at the society were very bright.
For my first lesson I managed to organise a one-to-one talk with the head of Russian as I am considering taking Russian as an ab initio language at university. This was really helpful as he gave me lots of advice about different universities, he gave me two free grammar books to help me if I decided to study Russian (which was very generous as this would amount to £35) and he gave me lots of Eton resources on learning Russian vocab, grammar and the Russian alphabet. He then helped to teach me the alphabet, and after using my reader to continue learning the alphabet after finding it really rewarding, I was able to learn half of the alphabet including the written and printed forms of the letters and the sounds of the letters when spoken. I then attended a philosophy lesson which detailed a case of psycho-analysis carried out by Freud, and I then went to a Portuguese lesson as this is another language which I am considering as an ab initio language at university. After lunch, the Dame arranged a tour of Windsor Castle for me and two others from the house, one of whom was on exchange at Eton from a boarding school in South Africa and the other being a student new to Eton in Year 12 (C Block), and whilst we were there the queen arrived and the flag changed from the Union Jack to the Royal Standard (we didn’t see the queen but we saw the car in which she arrived). In the evening, I was very fortunate as I managed to see David Cameron speak live before he then answered a number of questions. He spoke about how there were a number of challenges which came with being Prime Minister, such as the fact that everything that he said was constantly in the media and that Prime Minister’s Questions were very difficult as he had to know everything that went on in every one of his departments. He then proceeded to talk about globalisation and that Britain’s policy of globalisation would have to change as it is leading to a loss of local cultures. He did say however that it shouldn’t be stopped completely as it has brought much advancement, such as the near elimination of illnesses like Polio. In his question and answers, he said that, like Churchill, one way in which he was going to try and establish a positive legacy was that he was going to write the first chapter of his legacy by publishing a book in which he outlines his successes (namely to bring the Conservative Party to office after it had failed in three elections, to massively reduce the unemployment rate and to reduce public debt) and the reasons for his decisions. He then said that Boris Johnson had texted him to say that, during the campaign, he didn’t believe that the “Leave” campaign would win. Overall, it was really inspirational and we were really fortunate as he was the first Prime Minister/ former Prime Minister to speak at Eton since 1993.