And so on Saturday it was off to Christ’s Hospital, for an open day. Christ’s is an independent school in West Sussex, somewhere near Horsham. I’d never heard of it before the summer, but friends of ours told us in passing that their son had been invited to apply on the basis of his musical ability. Our eldest is ten now, and so we need to choose her secondary school fairly soon. While we have some fantastic schools in Worthing, Christ’s has a fantastic bursary scheme, and some children do get their fees paid for by the school; we would need that, or as close to it as makes no difference, and it is good to see how the other half live every once in a while.
Christ’s is so large it must have its own postcode. It certainly is signposted as if it is a village, and as we drove in, it looked like a village. Considering there are only 900 pupils, it was massive. We were told at one stage that they have 19 rugby pitches. The buildings were impressive and old without looking old, if that’s possible; the campus had an air of timelessness. And that was of course helped by the fact that the pupils, who were having Saturday morning lessons, were wandering around in their uniforms, which have only changed once since the 1500s, apparently.
It was a very slick operation, we were guided in and handed off to two Year 9s who were our guides for the entire morning. We saw the maths block, the music buildings, pretty much everything that was open. We had a tour of the boarding houses and asked what questions we had. The girls who were our tour guides were confident, pleasant and outgoing, and were a brilliant advert for the school in themselves.
Apparently the selection process is very rigorous: for the eighty places available, there are five hundred applicants. If that was a cross-section of the general public, I would like those odds, but we are talking about naturally bright kids and the output from prep schools, so there has already been some pre-selection. We’ll have to see how that goes. We need to go back in October for some IQ tests, and then if she passes that she will be one of two hundred invited back for the residential in January. We’ve had to pay a £50 fee for the experience, but even after just the open day, it may already be worth it. And if she gets as far as the residential, that will definitely be money well spent.
The only concern really is that the fees are £33k a year. That’s more than my annual salary, after tax. Take into account our mortgage payments and living costs, etc., and we don’t have any money left to pay for an education. I suppose TW could get a full-time, 35 hours a week job type job, but then she’d actually be paying out quite a lot on childcare for the other two and they would suffer from the lack of “Mum” time.
One thing they did say was that they aimed to have no more than 20 pupils in a class. Davisons can offer that at the moment, as an all-girl state school.
The eldest knows that it is unlikely that she will go there, but it will be a good experience for her, and nothing they said on the day dissuaded her from wanting to go there. So she will sit the exams and take the tests, and we’ll see.
The most impressive thing was the marching band. At 12:30 the band appeared, it must have been 70 strong, they were all kitted out in their finest, and marched really crisply. They paraded up and down, twirling their batons and playing some lively marching music, and then they stood still and played as the individual houses marched in to lunch, each in a separate squad, led by a standard-bearer. Apparently that happens every day, even when there are no spectators. It was very impressive and must be unique to Christ’s.
All in all, it was an interesting day. We had a McDonald’s for lunch on the way home, so everyone was a winner.

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