Governors at a top private school are weighing up plans whether to scrap charges and instead get funding directly from the government, as part of the ‘academy’ or ‘free school’ programmes. St Ambrose Preparatory School could enter the state sector in a move likely to trigger a massive scramble for places.
The boys-only school in Hale Barns currently teaches around 140 pupils whose families currently pay thousands of pounds for their education. The Catholic prep school, which teaches boys aged 3-11, was part of nearby St Ambrose College until 1990 when it became a separate independent school. However, earlier this year parents received letters asking for their views on a possible change of status, which could potentially include joining forces again with the state-funded grammar school.
But senior staff insist a decision is far from confirmed – and no formal request had yet been made to the Department for Education. Headmaster Frank Driscoll said: “It is just a proposal at this stage and there is no formal consultation at the present moment. The decision will ultimately be made by governors at the school.”
The school currently charges annual fees of up to £6,636.
Is this going to be part of a growing trend? What if more private schools start doing the same thing? Well it sure would be a shift in the way the education system works, particularly as this school is a top school. It would certainly break down the obvious class gap that exists between the extremes of family incomes from the top right through to the bottom end. Nothing frustrates me more than money defining entry into a school. Everyone has the right to top quality education, no matter how much money families have. We’re not in the Victorian era anymore.