Eton v's Winchester
Hi Tipsy, I saw the old thread was locked but just wanted to put in my to cents! Eton is simply the better school all round IMHO.
You don't have to decide 2 years in advance, you could accept both for now and so long as you pull out of the school you don't want with a decent full term or more notice of withdrawal in the year of entry, you won't lose anything beyond your acceptance deposit.
Winchester actually easier to get into as their pre-selection tests assess a boy's acquired knowledge, whereas Eton pre-selection also tests natural intelligence, so I think it follows that the future experience at the school will be on the same lines.
Look at the curriculums followed in the stuff that's NOT examined and you'll see what I mean.... and the Eton subject expansion trips are just amazing. to enjoy Eton though your boy needs to be bright and energetic and just interested in everything around him, basically secure in himself. Winchester might be a more comfortable place for a shyer boy.
Facilities at Eton far better, and being a larger school, there is a greater chance of a boy finding like minded boys to be friends with.
Winchester is also a fantastic school for the right sort of boy, usually the ones that like it are quietly confident rather than chirpily gregarious types that like Eton, especially if you are good at a few things but not necessarily achieving over 80% at everything, as their 13+ pass rate will overlook a lowish (60%) mark in one area if others are high, but if your son also takes his sport seriously then he might not be satisfied at Winchester although he will do very well academically and come out as more of an individual.
The common denominator these days at both schools is brains, not family standing or wealth.
Is your boy doing the King's scholarships / Winchester Elections or the regular 13+ Common Entrance and/or Winchester Entrance? Sure you know that the preparation is quite different for these two schools at the point of 13+ entry even for very clever boys... the exams are quite different from each other.
Let his own strengths, personality, and likes and dislikes guide you... Choice of housemaster actually more important than choice of school in the case of both Eton and Winchester.