14/11/2012 08:16 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Poorer Pupils To Be Offered Free Places At Eton And Harrow

Poorer pupils to be offered free places at Eton and Harrow Getty

Up to 2,000 children from poor backgrounds are to be offered places at Britain's top boarding schools such as Eton and Harrow.

Springboard Bursary Foundation says it has secured funding from private and business sponsors to send hundreds of disadvantaged youngsters to leading private schools.

As well as Eton and Harrow, places will also be on offer at Marlborough College, Roedean, Wellington College, Rugby School and Benenden School.

Charity chief executive Ian Davenport said: "Today marks an important moment for social mobility in the country."

Until now, private schools have run their own bursary schemes but they rarely cover the full £30,000 a year or more costs.

The charity will start with just 30 bursaries next year but hopes to have 60 schools, offering places to 2,000 pupils, by 2023.

Applicants will need to show they are from a disadvantaged background but would benefit from a boarding education.

Mr Davenport said: "Boarding schools have helped transform thousands of children's lives but have too often been perceived to be a preserve of a social elite."

But education campaign group the Sutton Trust said it would be better to provide funding for poorer pupils at independent day schools.

Would you want your child to attend a boarding school?