Private schools support “Open Access” scheme for poor students
Independent schools announced they will be admitting non-privileged students under the Open Access scheme if the state pays part of their fees.
A total of 80 independent day schools are in support of a state-funded Open Access scheme that would see them match financial support of fees from the government with money from their own bursary funds.
The programme, where parents end up paying for fees beyond their means, has been piloted at the Belvedere School in Liverpool over a seven year period.
The high-performing institutions said they would like to admit bright children regardless of their family income, arguing that the Open Access scheme would be the “single biggest policy step” towards boosting social mobility.
Headmasters from 44 independent schools today publicly announced their backing of the scheme in a letter to The Times, stating: “As heads of some of the most successful independent day schools in the country, we would like to admit pupils on merit alone, irrespective of whether their families can afford fees.”
They added: “Supporting Open Access is the single biggest policy step the government could take to boost social mobility at the top of society and bridge the divide between the state and independent sectors.”
The heads, including those of City of London School, Dulwich College and the Grammar School at Leeds, said the pilot showed “entry on merit to independent day schools costs less than a state school place”.
Sir Peter Lampl, the chairman of the Sutton Trust, which has championed the idea, claims more than 30,000 bright children who cannot currently afford to go to independent school would now be able to, if the Open Access scheme was introduced.