Will the next Chinese prime minister be educated ‘at’ Eton?
When King Henry VI of England founded Eton College in 1440 as “The King’s College of Our Lady of Eton besides Wyndsor”, he could scarcely have imagined that 578 years later it would be attended by students from all over the world, and least of all that they would not even need to leave their home countries to study there. But modern witchcraft (the internet) has made it so in the form of Eton’s online teaching arm, EtonX.
England’s most famous boys-only independent boarding school has educated 19 British prime ministers, who all lived there full-time during their education. As a producer of leaders, Eton has always emphasised soft skills like assertiveness, public speaking, critical thinking and social adroitness equally alongside academic prowess, and now anyone suitable between the ages of 14 and 20 can get a slice of Eton pie by signing up for an course with its online extension, EtonX. They must reside outside the UK and have a good level of English. And it is not a requirement to be a member of the aristocracy (it never was really, but Eton fees are historically beyond the reach of ordinary people).
EtonX works in the same way as many other extension programmes: students are granted access to the learning platform, engage in self-study and regularly log in to live classrooms for group lessons. The principal attractions of EtonX will be the cachet of association with England’s most famous school, and hopefully the quality of the teaching.
EtonX aims to facilitate the development of soft skills that students may not have the opportunity to work on during their normal studies and activities. Courses last seven weeks and have a final assignment or assessment. EtonX estimate that each course requires about two hours per week, which includes an hour of live online classes. This light workload makes it possible for students to slot the courses into their existing schedules.
At the time of writing the courses are: Making an Impact, Public Speaking, Verbal Communication, Interview Skills, Critical Thinking, Entrepreneurship, Writing Skills and CV Writing.
The main market at launch was China. “There’s absolutely plans to expand this to other territories and other courses,” said EtonX CEO Simon Walsh, referring to the initial course, the Modern Leadership Programme. “The reason we have started in China is that this particular course is particularly valuable for students who are going through the Chinese education system where the focus is on knowledge and rote learning.”
Class size is capped at eight students and fees are around £700 per term, which is an awful lot less than the maximum of £12,910 charged by the college proper for boarding pupils (though there is a surprising amount of financial assistance available.)