13/11/2012 11:02 GMT

Boarding School Bursary Boost For Children From Poor Backgrounds

Hundreds of children from poor backgrounds are set to be offered places at top boarding schools such as Eton and Harrow, it has been announced.

A new charity, the SpringBoard Bursary Foundation, aims to send 2,000 of the UK's disadvantaged youngsters to leading state and private boarding schools by 2023.

The first 30 pupils are due to start next September with Eton College, Harrow School, Benenden School, Marlborough College, Roedean, Rugby School, Wellington Academy and Wellington College among those providing bursary places.

Eventually, more than 60 boarding schools from the private and state sectors are expected to be involved, the foundation said.

harrow school

The plan will see 2,000 disadvantaged pupils in top schools such as Harrow

To be eligible to apply for a bursary, candidates must come from disadvantaged backgrounds and have the potential to gain from a boarding school education, a spokesman said.

The foundation closely follows the idea of a scheme run by Rugby School - a fee-paying boarding school for 11 to 18-year-olds - called the Arnold Foundation.

The Arnold Foundation, which was set up 10 years ago and is funded through voluntary donations, provides bursaries for pupils to take up boarding places at Rugby School.

rugby boarding school

The new scheme is modelled on Rugby's Arnold Foundation

Ian Davenport, SpringBoard chief executive and former headmaster of Blundell's, a private boarding school in Devon, said: "Boarding schools have helped transform thousands of children's lives but have too often been perceived to be the preserve of a social elite; so today marks an important moment for social mobility in this country.

"Alongside business and the third sector, the schools party to the SpringBoard Bursary Foundation will offer major opportunities to young people from communities that suffer from a poverty of educational ambition."

The foundation said that a number of individuals and trusts have already pledged funding for the bursaries.