Page last updated at 10:28 GMT, Monday, 4 July 2005 11:28 UK

What is it like at Eton College?

Eton College
Eton charges annual fees of more than 20,000

Eton College has been teaching the sons of the great, good and plain rich for the past 565 years.

Founded by King Henry VI, it has grown to a school of 1,290 boys aged 13 to 18, charging fees of more than 20,000 a year.

It has 18 British prime ministers, including the Duke of Wellington, Horace Walpole and Harold MacMillan, among its former pupils.

Writers George Orwell, Henry Fielding, Aldous Huxley, Percy Shelley and Ian Fleming also attended.

High grades

Eton, near Windsor Castle in Berkshire, sets the highest academic standards, with almost all of its pupils going on to university, around a third of them to Oxford or Cambridge.

Boys, selected by competitive examination, get their own study-bedroom and join a "house" with about 50 other members.

Class sizes range from 10 to 20 and students spend time discussing their studies with personal tutors.

Last year, 91.5% of A-level entries were awarded grades A and B.

Prince Harry playing the Eton Wall Game
Harry scored in the Eton Wall Game in 2002

Previously, Prince Harry gained B and D grades in art and geography, while Prince William achieved an A in geography, a B in history of art and a C in biology.

In a recent report, the Independent Schools Inspectorate notes: "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.

"The boarding houses and tutorial arrangements provide excellent pastoral care and the range of intellectual, cultural and sporting activities helps pupils to develop into thoughtful, confident and responsible young adults."

But Eton's quirky jargon is virtually indecipherable to the outsider.

Cricketers are known as "dry bobs", rowers as "wet bobs", while "slack bobs" do neither.

Lessons are officially called "schools" - "divs" to the boys, who call teachers "beaks".

Waistcoats and buttons

The uniform is no easier to understand.

Pupils wear a white tie that is effectively a strip of cloth folded over into the collar, apart from those appointed to positions of responsibility, who wear a white bow-tie.

Their status is indicated by different colours of waistcoat, trousers or buttons.

Societies range from astronomy to Scottish dancing to stamp-collecting.

Indeed, Eton's pupils benefit from facilities rarely seen in other schools.

Nearby Dorney rowing lake is recognised as one of the best in the world, while dramatic productions are put on in a 400-seat theatre.

The famous Eton Wall Game is an aggressive form of football in which hardly anyone ever scores. In fact, Harry distinguished himself by doing so in 2002.

Sandhurst tradition

The school has a long-established military tradition.

The Combined Cadet Force (CCF) started life in 1860 as the famous Eton Rifle Corps (better known as the "Eton Rifles", which also became the title of a song by The Jam).

Harry was himself a prominent member during his time at the school.

Some 13 boys entered Sandhurst for training as army officers last year, including Harry, while the army is the biggest single employer of Old Etonians.

William, having graduated from St Andrews University, is due to follow in his younger brother's footsteps.

Prince Harry's A-level results
14 Aug 03 |  Education
Pupils play Eton at its own game
03 Dec 04 |  Berkshire
Eton head attacks 'bully' parents
24 Sep 04 |  Education

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