The great tradition of independent schools is our tradition. We got here first. We started the ball rolling. In 1382, to be exact. Every other boarding school in the world is probably based on Winchester. All those of you who think Eton is the mutt's nuts (boo! hiss!) are definitively wrong. anyway, back to the story:

Once upon a time there was a man, named William of Wykeham, who was both the Bishop of Winchester and the High Chancellor. He was also excruciatingly rich (which had nothing to do with the fact that all the nation's taxes came through his hands). He created a school for:

"Seventy poor and needy scholars"

These scholars were to have their entire school fees paid by William, himself. However, a scholar now only gets half price fees (although when you consider that we're talking £17,000 to £20,000 per year, thats quite a lot). As, of course, now, Winchester has commercialised itself somewhat, rather than 70 there are now 700 boys, culled from the richest families of England and the World. It is as much a status symbol as an education. It can also be so for parents: to have multiple children attending offensively expensive schools is indicative of the kind of wealth that could... do something really useful if properly re-directed.

In order to make room for the large size increase (which happened only about 150 years ago), new boarding houses were built. Unfortunately, they have not been in any way refurbished for those 150 years. Some of them could really use a coat of paint! The boarding houses all have three names: a house letter (A to I, K, and X for college), a postal address which is typically the surname of the first ever housemaster, and a common name, which tends to be either the first housemaster's nickname, or the name of the second housemaster. This will likely be an unsuspecting parent's first run-in with the dreadful Winchester Notions. This is a language which Wykehamists (boys at Winchester) use to make themselves feel superior to the rest of the world. Notions are nearly as beloved as sarcasm, which unfortunately is so overused here that it has almost lost its value as verbal currency.

Winchester's superiority over the other schools of its ilk is its superior exam performance. Invariably coming in the top five of all major league tables of British secondary schools, it is normally only beaten by St Paul's. Less snobby than Radley, less bound by tradition that Eton, and formerly run by a man who is the former head of the QCA (Dr Nicholas Tate), exams have become quite a focus recently. However, with the appointment of the new headmaster, Mr Thomas Cookson, himself an Old Wykehamist, it is hoped that education may be pursued beyond the simple goals of exams.

The college's exam performance, however, not been to the detriment of the education received, due to the wide variety of non-examined subjects available in the curriculum, and the huge selection of extra-curricular activities. We play football, Winchester College Football and cricket as out main sports, have consistently strong athletics, hockey, fencing, judo, karate, aikido and squash teams, and more others than I could name if I tried.

We also have extremely strong showings in Art, Music, and D&T, with large, modern, extensive buildings dedicated to each.

All this obsequious propagandising is making me sick, so I will come back to this node when I have something sensible to say, or if I negotiate getting paid for sucking up to the school.

Winchester College was founded in 1382 by William of Whykeham, who was bishop of Winchester and high chancellor of England, and therefore was very rich. Being religious and rich presented him with a few theological difficulties, so he set up Winchester College and New College, Oxford to try to do something useful before he died. The school was originally intended to train men for priesthood and taught a range of subjects including Latin and maths. It originally comprised of 70 scholars who paid no school fees, the money for the running of the school being provided by William of Whykeham's estate.

Nowdays the school has changed greatly since its original creation. In order to make ends meet it took on fee-paying pupils forming 10 new boarding houses in addition to the original scholars house, now called College. The general intake of the school has changed from poor but intelligent boys to the children of the middle classes, although the entrance process is still demanding. Although the scholars still exist, and receive a substantial reduction in fees, they are no longer as “poor and needy” as their predecessors. The 600 or so pupils (all boys, at least for the moment) sleep and work in their boarding houses and share lessons with pupils from the other houses. Although it has worse facilities than many private schools in the same price range, it has one of the best academic records in England and one of the highest rates of entry to Oxford and Cambridge

Winchester college has developed a number of obscure traditions, the most important of these are notions and Winchester college football. Notions are an extensive slang language that has developed at Winchester college over the years, from simple abbreviations such as Win: Coll for Winchester College, to bizarre words such as toyetime for homework. This language is said to have been so incomprehensible that Whykehamists were said to have conversed freely over enemy monitored radio during World War Two. Winchester college football is best explained be the highly detailed description at its own node, but is essentially a combination of football (soccer) and rugby.

Winchester is an extraordinary place to learn; I will leave this year having spent five years both loving and hating it. On one side it offers the best education money can buy: not just exams and tests but the freedom to work at your own pace and to explore concepts that interest you, taught by some of the best teachers in the country. On the other it suffers from the problem that it continues to perpetuate a stereotype rich kid attitude,is not co-ed, and thus screws up many people's ability to relate to the opposite sex, and it suffers from the universal school problem that intellectuals are unappreciated when compared to sportsmen. For £18,000 it represents the best chance of getting into an Oxbridge college of almost anywhere in the UK, but it will affect you for the rest of your life.

Pupils/ex-pupils of Winchester (Wykehamists) now have their own user group: e2Wykehamists. We may also have the highest percentage population of noders of any educational establishment in the world: over 1%

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