The Eton Tie: One School, 20 Prime Ministers

Sir Robert Walpole (1721-1742 )was the first of the Eton graduates to serve as Prime Minister, while Boris Johnson elected in 2019 is the 20th Eton graduate to become PM. Others have included the Duke of Wellington (1828-1830, 1834), William Gladstone (1868-74, 1880-1886) and Antony Eden (1955-1957). It is an extraordinary record for any school especially as it was originally founded in the 15th c by King Henry VI for 70 poor boys known as “king’s scholars” and not for sons of the royal family or the aristocracy.

This class will be delivered face-to-face at WEA Sydney. Enrolling students need to ensure they have read the current COVID-19 Safety Guidance that WEA Sydney has put in place before enrolling.


  • Robert Verkaik, Posh Boys : How English Public Schools Ruin Britain, Oneword publishing, 2018
  • Nick Fraser, The Importance of Being Eton, Short Books, 2009


  • Origins of Eton School in the 15th century and its development to the 18th century
  • Key public figures who have attended Eton School, including Prime Ministers, and their significance from 18th c to 2020 and its association with Oxford University
  • Eton in 2020, current circumstances and its legacy an institution for 580 years


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Gain an appreciation of the history of Eton over the last 580 years.
  2. Consider its importance or significance in British politics and society over that period.
  3. Comment on the legacy of the school in national and international terms over time.

This course has no current classes. Please join the waiting list by clicking .