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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
Paul Britton

Private Eton College to launch sixth-form centre in Oldham and 'open up world-class academic opportunities'

Eton College has unveiled plans to open a sixth-form centre in Oldham in a move designed to open up Oxbridge and other elite universities to the town's students.

The famous boarding school for boys, where Princes William and Harry studied, will bid to open three selective sixth-form free schools in education 'cold spots' identified in the Government's Levelling Up paper, it was announced tonight.

Two other post-16 Eton colleges are being proposed in Dudley and Middlesbrough. Those two towns and Oldham are included in a list of 55 education areas targeted for additional support by the Government.

The 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.

Council bosses in Oldham tonight welcomed the move.

The £44,000-a-year private school in Windsor, Berkshire, 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. They will form part of multi-academy trust Star Academies, with access to Eton's teachers as well as extracurricular clubs and speaker events.

Eton College (PA)

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."

Prince Harry studies at his desk in 2003 (Getty Images)

Simon Henderson, headmaster 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 Arooj Shah, leader of Oldham Council, said: "For a young person growing up in Oldham, this is really exciting news, and comes after a lot of hard work behind the scenes with Eton, and with Star, to make this fantastic idea a reality.

"Eton and Star both have an outstanding reputation in providing the very best education - and that’s why I’m delighted that we can bring this incredible opportunity here to Oldham. This new sixth form will open up world-class academic opportunities for Oldham’s young people – providing an unrivalled educational experience that will enable every child, wherever they live and whatever their background, to fulfil their potential.

"Together with the outstanding Sixth Form College, school sixth forms and Oldham College, we are a family which recognises we have a generational responsibility to invest in young people so they realise their full potential.

"This project will improve opportunities and education outcomes for not just the families who live here now, but for generations to come."

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