A leading headmistriss has said private schools should stop trying to compete for the best students by luring them with scholarships and instead spend the money on bursaries. Emma Hattersley, head at the £32,000-a-year Godolphin School in Salisbury, said that scholarships for exceptionally talented pupils should be “phased out” in favour of fee assistance for pupils from less-well off families.
During the last five years as headmistress at Godolphin School, Ms Hattersley said she has made a “conscious decision” to slash the fee discount for music, drama or academic scholars from over 20 per cent to ten per cent.
Swapping merit-based scholarships for means-tested bursaries is something that all private schools should consider, Ms Hattersley said. Her comments come amid mounting pressure on the country’s most prestigious private schools to step up their efforts to help less well-off pupils. Three quarters of independent schools in England are registered as charities, earning them favourable business rates and VAT exemptions on fees.
Independent schools could allow state educated pupils to join their classes in subjects such as languages and Classics, it suggests. Private schools could also share facilities such as science laboratories with nearby state schools, it adds, while teachers from fee-paying institutions could share lesson plans and resources.