Building on the success of the seven year pilot at the Belvedere School in Liverpool, the Trust is continuing to develop its Open Access programme as a means of democratising access to the country’s leading independent day schools. All places in the schools would be available on merit alone, with parents paying a sliding scale of fees according to means. Under the Belvedere pilot, academic standards went up and the social mix of the school became more diverse: 30% of pupils were on free places, 40% paid partial fees and the rest paid full fees. It was also a happy place to teach and learn.
The Trust proposes that this model be extended to 100 or more leading academic day schools, with state funding, as a means of boosting mobility at the top and opening the pipeline of talent to leading universities and the professions. Because of the partnership with parents, the cost per head to the state for Open Access would be less than the cost of the average state school place. Over 80 independent day schools – half of the leading independent day schools in the country – have backed Open Access and we are working with a number of Heads on their further development.
As well as discussions with government, we are working with a number of policy experts on positioning Open Access with a view to it being included in party manifestos.