Eton to open selective sixth forms in ‘cold spots’ as part of levelling up

Three sixth forms are to open in Dudley, Middlesbrough and Oldham.

10 March 2022

Eton College will open three selective sixth form free schools in education “cold spots” identified by the Levelling Up paper, it was announced on Thursday.

The schools will be opened in Dudley, Middlesbrough and Oldham, areas included in the list of 55 education “cold spots” targeted for additional support by the Government’s levelling up agenda.

The post-16 colleges will be modelled on selective sixth forms in the capital such as the London Academy of Excellence. High-achieving pupils at GCSE from poorer backgrounds will be encouraged to gain top A-level grades, enabling them to study at Oxbridge and other elite universities.

The £44,000-a-year private school has partnered with Star Academies for the scheme, and will bid in the next wave of the Government’s free school programme, with the colleges expected to welcome their first pupils by 2025.

Education Select Committee
Headmaster of Eton College Simon Henderson is ‘delighted to open these colleges’ (PA)

The colleges will form part of multi-academy trust Star Academies, with access to Eton’s teachers as well as extracurricular clubs and speaker events.

Eton will also assist pupils during the university application process, as well as with interview preparation, and they will be able to take part in summer residential programmes at Eton.

A statement from Eton and Star Academies said that the small size of the colleges “will allow them to target a very specific academic education and will ensure that they do not disrupt the existing pattern of local post-16 education”.

“The admissions policies – designed in conjunction with University College London’s Centre for Education Policy and Equalising Opportunities – will be developed to specifically target young people who would most benefit on an ongoing basis,” the statement said.

Each college will admit 240 students a year with Eton making a financial commitment “in perpetuity” to fund the colleges.

Star Academies chief executive Sir Hamid Patel said: “By harnessing our combined wealth of educational and operational expertise, we are confident that our colleges will produce extraordinary, transformative outcomes, not only for their students but for the wider communities, too.”

He said that the colleges would have a “wider, positive impact throughout the communities of Dudley, Middlesbrough and Oldham”.

“They will become anchor institutions that make a significant contribution by playing a leading role in addressing skills shortages and helping to drive up standards in education.”

Simon Henderson, Head Master of Eton, said: “We are delighted to be bidding to open these colleges in Dudley, Middlesbrough and Oldham. Our partnership with Star Academies is intended to ensure that the success of the project is greater than the sum of its parts.

“While our contexts may be different, our values are aligned and together we are committed, for the long-term, to sharing our educational vision and delivering outstanding educational opportunities to young people in these areas.”

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said the news was an “exciting step forward” for the area which would give the “brightest Black Country students an accelerator to the top universities such as Oxford and Cambridge”.

Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston said: “Eton College in Middlesbrough. It’s incredible to win the support and backing of the world’s most famous school – a phenomenal result.”

Councillor Arooj Shah, Leader of Oldham Council, said: “My first and foremost responsibility is to fight for Oldham and draw in support and investment from every corner. I’ll work across political and ideological divides to make that happen.”

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