Tories to redraw assisted place plan

10th March 2000 at 00:00
A SCHEME to permit highly-able pupils from poor backgrounds to attend leading independent schools is being drawn up by the Conservatives.

Shadow education secretary Theresa May MP told independent school heads she was looking at alternatives to the Assisted Places Scheme, introduced by the Tories under the 1980 Education Act and abolished by Labour when it came to power in 1997.

"We are developing proposals where the pupil would receive the equivalent funding for a place in a state school, with th difference between that and the cost of the independent school made up by a bursary from the school or a business scholarship, or both," she told the annual conference of the Society of Headmasters and Headmistresses of Independent Schools, near Chester.

Average spending on a state secondary place is pound;2,500 and average fees for an independent day school are pound;6,000 a year. But Mrs May said she had not ruled out the idea of offering boarding places, which could cost more than pound;15,000 a year.

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