Open access

Most pupils attending independent schools come from wealthy backgrounds and tend to earn more than their state-educated peers later in life, dominating top professions.

Open access is a policy proposal developed and piloted by the Sutton Trust to improve access to independent day schools. Under our proposal, independent day schools would be opened to all on a means-tested basis. Schools would join voluntarily and maintain their independence. Admission would be competitive but fair, and fees would be charged on a sliding scale.

The Trust has put this policy to the test with a successful pilot scheme at the Belvedere School in Liverpool. We have also assessed the financial impact of the proposal, where the cost of each place would be shared between the school, paying parents, and the government. We have found that the cost to the Government would be less than a state school place.

In this section, you will find reports setting out our proposals for the scheme, assessing the impact of the pilot project, and investigating further policy options for improving access to the independent schools sector.