Episode

The Documentary

BBC World Service

News & Politics, Society & Culture, History

Chart Positions

History 20
Society & Culture 65

The best of BBC World Service documentaries and other factual programmes.

Website

An Eton Experience

March 9th, 2016

Episode 1210 of 1365 episodes

Edit .Each year some of the poorest pupils in the country enter the hallowed corridors of Eton on full scholarships. Penny Marshall meets some of those applying for places and follows them and those they inspire as they prepare for exams that could change the course of their lives. Andrew Isama reflects on the move from one of Liverpool’s toughest comprehensives to the cobbled square, 15th century chapel and Olympic rowing lake at Eton. He says that preconceptions about the school get turned on their head when scholarship pupils like him arrive: far from being with boys who eat pate and listen to classical music he was surprised to find out just how normal his fellow pupils were: “People had the same interests as me.” The Headmaster at Eton, Simon Henderson, wants more bursaries for boys from disadvantaged backgrounds, so that anyone with the necessary talent can be financially supported at the 35,000-a-year school. Penny joins him and some of the pupils to find out what they hope to gain from the experience. The transition can be a difficult one and some struggle with the move to an institution which has educated 19 British prime ministers, including the present incumbent. But Andrew Isama believes that the influx of scholarship pupils like him also helps those who have come from privileged backgrounds - “A lot of them have never been exposed to anything else. They want to be successful but to do that they have to know how to get on with a range of people.”

Featured Podcast

Listen