80 top independent day schools have called on the Government to support the Sutton Trust’s Open Access scheme, which would enable talented pupils from all backgrounds to enter the country’s highest performing independent day schools.  The call comes as the Trust publishes a report making the case for the extension of Open Access under a state-backed programme.

The scheme would transform social mobility at the top end of society, as leading independent day schools dominate admissions to the country’s elite universities and most prestigious professions. Up until 1976, 70 percent of these schools were principally state funded – in what was the golden age of social mobility.

The Open Access scheme would once again democratise entry to the schools, opening them up to tens of thousands of talented children from non-privileged backgrounds. Parents would pay a sliding scale of fees according to means and – because of this partnership with parents – the scheme would cost the government less per head than a state school place.

So far 80 schools have supported Open Access, including such well known schools as Westminster, City of London Boys’, King Edward’s, Birmingham, Lady Eleanor Holles, Manchester Grammar, The Grammar School at Leeds and the Royal Grammar School, Newcastle.

Open Access has been successfully trialled at the Belvedere School, Liverpool over a 7 year period by the Sutton Trust together with the Girls’ Day School Trust. Under Open Access the social mix of the school became much more diverse, with 30 per cent of pupils on free places, 40 per cant paying partial fees and 30 per cent paying full fees.  Academic standards soared and the school was a happy place.  Extending Open Access on a voluntary basis to 100 leading private day schools would have a total net cost of less than £200m when fully up and running.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust, said:

“We are delighted that 80 leading independent day schools have backed Open Access.  Opening up these schools would result in over 30,000 children attending them based on merit who now cannot afford to do so.  This would transform social mobility at the top.”

David Levin, Headmaster of City of London Boys’ School and former Chairman of HMC, said:

“Despite our extensive bursary programme, we have to turn away many highly able students from low and middle income homes who would thrive in our school.  Open Access would allow us to be truly needs blind in our admissions.  That is why the City of London Boys’ School is fully behind the scheme and why so many other leading day schools support it too: like us, they want to educate the brightest pupils, irrespective of family background.”

Notes to editors

The Sutton Trust is a charity founded in 1997 by Sir Peter Lampl with the aim of providing educational opportunities for young people from non-privileged backgrounds and improving social mobility through education. Last year, the Government announced it had awarded £125 million to the Sutton Trust as the lead charity with the support from Impetus, to establish the Education Endowment Foundation to boost the attainment of some of the country’s most disadvantaged children.

Media enquiries

If you're a journalist with a question about our work, get in touch with Ruby. If it's out of office hours, you can call or text 07834 461299.

E: [email protected] T: 020 7802 1660

Keep up to date with the latest news