Prestigious boys’ public school Eton College is set to open three selective sixth forms in towns chosen from across the UK. The college is working on the scheme alongside Star Academies, a non-profit trust that runs 28 free schools and academies in England, mainly in the West Midlands, Lancashire, West Yorkshire, and Greater Manchester, with 19 secondary schools and nine primary schools under their jurisdiction.
The three new colleges are set to be founded in Dudley in the West Midlands, Middlesbrough in North Yorkshire, and Oldham, Greater Manchester. They hope to admit 240 pupils per year, and plan to be opening in 2025, focusing on students on free school meals and those from “disadvantaged” postcodes.
Additionally, the new colleges hope to admit students who would be the first in their families to attend university, and plan to assist pupils in the daunting university application process with advice, interview preparation, and residential summer programmes at the main Eton College in Berkshire.
‘A phenomenal result’
The three towns – Oldham, Middlesbrough, and Dudley – were chosen for their “need for a college to stretch high-achieving young people” with a selective application process for prospective students. Despite fears that the new institutions could draw students away from existing schools in the area, Eton has said that the smaller size of these new colleges would “target a very special academic education” that they claim will not disrupt local education.
This announcement has been widely welcomed, with local politicians from the three towns celebrating the news. the leader of Oldham Council, Councillor Arooj Shah, stated; “My first and foremost responsibility is to fight for Oldham and draw in support and investment from every corner.
Patrick Harvey, leader of Dudley Council, echoed his words, noting that this scheme would be “an accelerator to the top universities”, with Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston describing it as “a phenomenal result. Eton College in Middlesbrough – it’s incredible to win the support and backing of the world’s most famous school.”