Also I know the house competitions are also important at these schools as well.
Not at all of them. The houses are not made a big deal out of at STR, which suits my lot rather well. The biggest impact seems to be on rugby shirt colour - houses have barely been mentioned in our association with the school. At Pates they are rather a big deal - a bit of a culture shock for anyone moving there for sixth form to find house music, house drama etc competitions all the time. No idea about SHS but can't imagine this would be a very big issue for many children would it? I find houses a bit odd to be honest - a very English thing and I have never really got the point of it all, but I know lots of people think them wonderful at fostering competitive spirit etc.