An East London sixth-form free school is appealing to parents of pupils at Eton College and other fee-paying schools to give up to £3,000 to support each of its 450 students.
The London Academy of Excellence (LAE) in Stratford was founded in 2012. It receives support from six independent school partners: Brighton College, Caterham School, Eton, Forest School, Highgate School and University College School.
The LAE has now asked families at some of its six sponsoring private schools to make donations to make up for real-terms cuts to its government funding.
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Extra funding required
In December, it was announced that the amount of funding given to colleges, schools and sixth forms to deliver education for 16- to 18-year-olds would be frozen for the seventh year running.
Dozens of families of students at the LAE's independent partner schools have already pledged money to help fund extras that contribute to its success in transforming the lives of pupils from difficult backgrounds, The Sunday Times has reported today.
“We cannot run the school in the same way on what we are being given,” said head master Scott Baker.
The move comes as the school has announced that a record 34 sixth-formers have won places at medical, dental or veterinary schools this summer.
'Compare that to Eton'
The school has tough entry requirements: applicants must have at least five 9-7 GCSE grades, including the subjects they want to study in sixth form, as well as a grade 6 or higher in English and maths.
Mr Baker said: “We get more than £4,000 per student [a year] from the government but we need an extra £1,500 to emulate the teaching of a private school sixth form.
“Compare that to Eton – it’s around 10 times less. Sixth-form college funding has been cut by 20 per cent and we cannot run the school on what we are being given. We can’t offer four A levels and all the advice and guidance that gives our teenagers a fair shot at top universities, that is the crux of it.”
'Right thing to do'
About 80 parents at Brighton College have agreed to the request, The Sunday Times reports. One parent, barrister Kassie Smith, said she had paid £3,000 to the LAE. “The best children should be able to go to the best universities. I do not want my child to have an unfair advantage in any competition for the best universities,” she said.
Brighton College’s headmaster, Richard Cairns, said that the success of schools such as the LAE would keep some private school pupils out of top universities, but that it was the right thing to do.
“I think private school children on the margins are no longer going to get in [to Oxbridge]. I think that is perfectly fine, even if you are a pupil at my own school. My parents do not see this as dog eat dog. It is the right thing to do.”