Monday, October 11

Tiffen School

Eitan and I check out the Tiffen School in Kingston - chemistry lab pictured (do note the flames originating from the boy's hands). Tiffen the best grammar school in our area and, indeed, one of the country's very best schools: the Head Teacher tells us Tiffen "inside Britain's Top-5 state schools" based on test scores while sending a fifth of its kids to "Oxbridge." Tiffen is also free, making it very dear: 1,400 applications chase 140 spots. We enjoy our grounds tour led by a confident 8th grader named "Kush" whose parents immigrated from some obscure part of India. Kush's dream is to read maths at Oxford or Cambridge and Eitan mortified when I ask Kush if he knows 8 x 7. Just testing. I notice that there are plenty of Indian students while all the kids delightfully awkward and goofy with bad skin, untucked shirts and unpolished shoes (I tell Eitan that if he goes to Tiffen he doesn't have to comb his hair). This nothing like St Paul's or the Hampton School where those boys blue blood and polished. Eitan and I discuss the differences between public and state schools and I note that while the publics might have better facilities and teacher-student ratios, they may fail to offer a fair cross section of society and could miss the most interesting people. This my experience at Berkeley High School anyway - my friends from then generally more interesting than the Ivy League. To hand, the "Head Boy" who addresses the auditorium remarkable - poised, confident, white and a strong jawline. We are all relieved I am sure.

While Eitan duly impressed by Tiffen he notes that it lacks one critical ingredient: football. This is a rowing and rugby place.