Eton and Harrow to offer free places to up 2,000 disadvantaged children

Up to 2,000 disadvantaged children will be allowed to attend leading private and state boarding schools, a new charity has promised.

Places at Eton, Harrow, Marlborough College, Roedean, Wellington College, Rugby School and Benenden School will be on offer, says the Springboard Bursary Foundation, which claims to have secured funding from private and business sponsors.

Charity chief executive Ian Davenport said: ‘Today marks an important moment for social mobility in the country.’

Until now, private schools have run their own bursary schemes but they rarely cover the full £30,000 a year or more costs.

The charity will start with just 30 bursaries next year but hopes to have 60 schools, offering places to 2,000 pupils, by 2023.  Applicants will need to show they are from a disadvantaged background but would benefit from a boarding education.

Mr Davenport said: ‘Boarding schools have helped transform thousands of children’s lives but have too often been perceived to be a preserve of a social elite.’

But education campaign group the Sutton Trust said it would be better if the government provided funding for poorer pupils at independent day schools.

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