Eton teams up with academy trust to fund three new sixth form colleges
Eton of the north: Prestigious school will fund three new sixth form colleges aimed at young people who live in deprived parts of northern England
- Eton College signed agreement with Star Academies to open three sixth forms
- The selective colleges will fast-track young people to UK academic universities
- Recruitment will focus on pupils living in deprived areas or on free school meals
- They will open in next five years and be located in Midlands and North of England
- Eton College will make ‘significant and ongoing contribution’ to the partnership
Eton College has signed an agreement with an academy trust to open three selective state sixth form colleges for young people who live in deprived northern areas.
The landmark agreement, which was signed this month, has seen the 581-year-old independent boarding school form a partnership with Star Academies to open three highly selective sixth forms.
Star Academies, which specialises in helping young people from deprived areas to achieve outstanding academic results, started off as a small community of Muslim schools but now includes more than 30 schools.
It gained recognition this month after the leading state school provider’s chief executive, Sir Hamid Patel, was knighted for services to education.
The three selective sixth forms, the first of which is set to open in 2024, will fast-track young people, often from deprived communities, to the UK’s most academic universities.
A landmark agreement, which was signed this month, has seen the 581-year-old Eton College (pictured) form a partnership with Star Academies to open three new sixth form colleges
Eton will make a ‘significant and ongoing contribution’ to the partnership, which is thought to be hundreds of thousands of pounds each year, according to The Times.
The recruitment of students will be highly selective but the process will focus on young people who who live in deprived areas or are on free school meals.
The exact location of the three colleges is yet to be decided but plans currently suggest all of the schools will open across the West Midlands and North of England.
The colleges will each admit 240 students each year and will offer virtual teaching from Eton’s own staff, including teaching from the country’s most respected subject-specialists, talks from high-profile teachers.
The schools aim to blend Eton’s educational philosophy and rigorous curriculum with the ethos of Star Academies, according to the multi-agency trust’s website.
Students will be able to take part in academic essay prizes, debate clubs and Oxbridge-style tutorial sessions, as well as being given the chance to learn Latin and attend Eton College each year for a summer school.
Star Academies, which specialises in helping people from deprived areas, gained recognition as its chief executive, Sir Hamid Patel (pictured), was knighted for services to education
The three new colleges have been inspired by the selective academic sixth form London Academy of Excellence, of which Eton College is a partner.
Eton and Star will be bidding through the much-anticipated next wave of the Government’s Free Schools programme to set up the colleges and, if approved, the first college will open in September 2024, with the others following shortly after.
The colleges, whose names are yet to be decided, will be overseen by a partnership board, which will be chaired by Eton’s Vice-Provost and will operate as a sub-committee of Star’s board of trustees.
Eton’s fees currently stand at £44,000 a year but the school’s provost Lord William Waldegrave pointed out that the college was originally founded in 1440 to provide free education to poor boys.
The former cabinet minister added: ‘Since King Henry VI founded Eton in 1440 to provide free education to 70 poor boys, Eton has long sought out ways to broaden our reach, to ensure that as many young people as possible can enjoy the benefits of our educational philosophy.
‘I believe firmly that this partnership with Star is simply a new and exciting development in this long and proud history.’
While Star Academies’ chief executive Sir Hamid Patel, 42, said: ‘This is a fantastically exciting moment for both our organisations.
‘Eton bringing its approach to education to disadvantaged communities, allied to our own successful ethos, has the potential to be transformative for both the students who will attend but also the wider civic lives of the towns and cities in which our new colleges will open.
The three selective sixth forms will fast-track young people, often from deprived communities, to the UK’s most academic universities. Pictured: Eton’s headmaster Simon Henderson
The location of the three colleges is yet to be decided but plans suggest all of the schools will open across the Midlands and North of England. Pictured: Star’s chief executive Hamid Patel
‘Our mission has always been to change lives for the better and give young people the best opportunities – this partnership will further help us achieve that.’
Eton have been planning to open three new sixth forms since May 2020, and headmaster Simon Henderson said they now have decided to do so in partnership with Star as they have a ‘shared educational ethos’.
He continued: ‘When speaking to Star it became immediately clear that, while our contexts may be different, we have a shared educational ethos and vision and I am confident that by working together we can deliver outstanding educational opportunities and outcomes to young people in these communities, which will surpass what either organisation could have achieved on our own.’
Star and Eton said their unprecedented partnership is a ground-breaking example of state and independent sector collaboration, which they insisted will benefit all the students and teachers involved.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said: ‘I’m delighted to see Star Academies join forces with Eton College to focus on providing exciting opportunities for pupils.
‘Our best schools can lead the way in driving up standards across the country, and it’s fantastic to see a leading trust like Star working to expand its reach even further into local communities, supported by the resources and expertise of one of the world’s top independent schools, to transform the life chances of young people.’
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