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Cradles of Success: Britain's Premier Public Schools Paperback – 6 Sep 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • Parent Power: The complete guide to getting the best education for your child
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Product details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Buckingham Press; 2nd Revised edition edition (6 Sept. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1908684062
  • ISBN-13: 978-1908684066
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.1 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 225,083 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


...the best British independent schools continue to show themselves as truly world class. Mario di Monaco gives his readers an insight into the nature of that success. --Tony Little, Headmaster of Eton

A guide to Britain's premier public schools. It features 39 schools, contains articles by head teachers as well as parents and provides a forthright and idiosyncratic snapshot of the sector... So why did the author spend years researching what he describes as Britain's top-drawer public schools? The answer lies, it turns out, partly in his own background. A child of Italian immigrants (he describes his background as lower middle class&, Di Monaco realised at medical school that his own education did not match that of most of his privately educated peers. 'I am the product of a state school and an inexpensive sixth-form education. I read medicine at University College London alongside Etonians. I could see what the privately educated students had that I did not', he admits. 'They came with grade 8 violin. They could put on a play standing on their heads. They were confident and charming and had done so much already. I felt, 'Gosh, there is another world out there'.' ...By contrast, Di Monaco won his place at medical school after overcoming many hurdles. 'I remember the chemistry teacher at school nearly falling off his chair when I said that I would like to study medicine at Cambridge,' he recalls. 'He said, 'Do you realise that Cambridge is the ultimate educational achievement?' When I said that UCL was my second choice my teacher said, 'It's elitist and public-school dominated. Why not turn your attention to the lesser schools?'' 'Those are the kind of hoops you don't get at a public school, where going into medicine is not seen as a big deal.' Now a senior partner in a GP practice in northwest London, the doctor is determined to make life easier for [his sons], currently pupils at a prep school in Hertfordshire. To this end he has toured public schools, quizzed families and headmasters and researched exam results and university destinations... He admits that 'designer-label schools' are eye-wateringy expensive but he is prepared to pay the the required £30,000 a year for each of his sons. As he points out, privately educated pupils have a far better chance of winning a place at a leading university than do their state-school counterparts. 'When I went to university only 11% of the cohort went to university. Now it is 50%. The competition is more severe and I want to make sure we give to our children the best opportunities,' he says. 'The yardstick is still to go to a good university, get a respectable degree and a glittering career will follow.' '...I have met loads of boys who went to places like Radley; they are absolutely charming, whether they are barristers or boxers. At the end of the day that is why Russians and Chinese families choose British schools. They can get a good education anywhere but the traditional English values that come with the premier English public schools - that is what they want to buy into.' It may sound snobbish or old-fashioned but Di Monaco has no doubts at all. 'I know some people think premier public schools should be razed to the ground and they are divisive but that is left-wing nonsense,' he says. 'Why destroy a model that is working so well?' --Sian Griffiths, Sunday Times

About the Author

Mario di Monaco is a medical doctor whose interest in private education is borne out of the need to make the difficult choice between the best of schools.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
We both had a state school education and, whilst it satisfied many of the academic ambitions we had, we can see that the opportunities available at many independent schools are vastly superior. Well, they have to justify those "eye-watering" fees. Therefore we have chosen to invest in our children's education for as long as we can. Goodbye to foreign holidays and shiny new cars!

The marvellous thing about Dr Di Monaco's book is that it gets under the surface of the prospectus-style facts and figures; there's a feel you get from looking round any school, which is a hunch or even a visceral experience (I once visited a school and I couldn't escape fast enough!). So much is readily available about A-level results, sports facilities, art accomplishments, etc. But any parent knows that you come away from visiting a school with a very definite "yes" or "no" inclination, often borne out of no more than a warm welcome or an impressive child tourguide.

I can honestly say that this book comes closer to having a chat with an insider than any other independent schools guide currently available. If you are new to British public schools, and certainly if you are looking to send your child here from another country, this is essential reading. That said, even those who went to public school themselves will find that things have changed out of all recognition since their schooldays, so even for them this is a "must read".

Clearly written and highly informative, I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in what traditional British public schools can offer in the modern world.
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As a direct result of reading Mario di Monacos first edition of 'Cradles of Success' and having attended presentations from a number of schools at the launch of the book, we have found what we feel is the school offering the perfect fit for our LVI form daughter. The new, expanded edition offers even more in the way of advice on choosing between A level and I.B., single sex and co educational environments and the nature and character of some of the top independent schools in the U.K. No school open day can offer this. The author has in this updated book, summed up the essence of each school, enabling the reader to be selective and cross compare their own post school open day vibe with his own sense of what the school has to offer. Crucially, it also helps parents to gauge whether their child will 'fit in', a point that should not be underestimated.
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Format: Paperback
If you are the parent of a child whom you are considering sending away to boarding school you owe it to that child to go to boardingschoolsurvivors.co.uk and/or look up "boarding school syndrome" on Google. There is growing and convincing evidence that sending children away from their families to boarding school, and especially children under the age of 13, can do lasting psychological damage.

How do I know? I am one of those damaged children still struggling with issues of trust and intimacy at the age of 50. Many boarding school survivors are loath to admit to their problems, but their spouses or ex-spouses will confirm the symptoms.
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