The first state boarding school for children as young as four will open in September in a bid to cater for working families who have been priced out of the private sector, but struggle to fit in with typical school hours.
Wymondham College Prep School which will charge £11,000 a year for accommodation and food – roughly a third of fees in the private sector – will open in Norfolk for 450 boys and girls aged 4-11. Children of eight and over will be able to board in its 32-bedroom boarding house, Underwood Hall, which, The Sunday Times reports today, will be run “in a homely style”, with teddy bears in dormitories, tuckboxes at tea-time, bedtime stories and Mabel, a golden Labrador, to cuddle if children get homesick.
The school is being opened under the government’s free schools programme.
Jonathan Taylor, chief executive of the Sapientia Education Trust, which manages 15 state schools and will run Wymondham College Prep, said: “Families feel boarding supports their working patterns. We offer 70 activities a week after school, from cookery to Mandarin, all on tap. We have a high number of highly aspirant families opting into this state boarding option – who might have been able to afford private boarding 30 years ago but can no longer afford it because the fees have risen so sharply.”
Wymondham College Prep will charge £11,000 a year for accommodation and food but there will be no payment for teaching.
At present there are 33 state boarding schools for children aged 11-18 in the UK.
Research published last year found that private school fees had risen by almost twice the rate of inflation to a record level, with London seeing the biggest increase.