Eton's sponsorship of state school 'a coup for Cameron'

Jan 31, 2013

Dubbed a 'mini Eton', the free state school will offer private school's ethos without the big fees

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A FREE state-funded academy sponsored solely by the elite private school Eton is to open near Windsor in September next year.

Holyport College will be located six miles from Eton on the outskirts of the Berkshire village of Holyport. It will be a non-selective co-educational school that is free to day pupils. About 45 per cent of its 500 students will be boarders, says The Times, with local authorities and bursaries covering the £11,500-a-year boarding fees.

Some education commentators said today's announcement of what is already being called the "mini-Eton" is "a coup" for David Cameron and his push to bring the "independent school ethos" to the state school system.

But the National Union of Teachers said the plans are simply a way to provide state funding for elite boarding schools, proving that the government's priorities have "gone badly wrong".

The Times says both Cameron - an Old Etonian – and Education Secretary Michael Gove have long wanted an "Eton of the state sector" as a flagship for their academy and free school reforms.

The Daily Telegraph describes the announcement as a "publicity boost to the Government's campaign to bring the independent sector ethos to comprehensive schools".

Holyport College will accept pupils aged 11-19. About 100 of its students will be children who are in care or at risk of being taken into care.

The Daily Mail says the new school will offer "Eton-style boarding and academic standards", but students won't have to pay the eye-watering £30,000 a year fees charged by the PM's alma mater. Eton's headmaster Tony Little said it was possible the private school could offer "staffing and other resources" to the new state institution.

The Times Education Supplement blog TES points out that Holyport College will in effect be Eton's second free school – it already co-sponsors the London Academy of Excellence, a sixth-form college in Newham, East London.

TES says it remains to be seen whether Holyport College "flourishes" thanks to Eton's imprimatur or if the new school "simply makes Eton look a bit less exclusive by reaching out to the impoverished state sector?"

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And said school will lead to a massive boost in house prices in the catchment area thus leading to no poor children actually attending there