A PRESTIGIOUS fee-paying Merseyside school is set to offer more free places to children from low income backgrounds.
Crosby-based Merchant Taylors’ Girls’ School is behind plans to widen its intake.
A fifth of pupils in its £9,800 a-year senior schools already receive some form of assistance with fees through its own means-tested assisted place scheme. But headmistress of the girls’ school Louise Robinson, who is also this year’s President of the Girls' School Association said talks were underway so more pupils have a realistic chance of attending the table topping school.
Speaking ahead of her school hosting a 200-plus delegation of independent girls’ school heads and big names from the world of education next week, Mrs Robinson said although in its infancy the idea would be that the housing group matched the school’s contribution to cover successful pupils’ places – possibly as early as next September.
She added: “We recognise there are a good number of students who feel this is the right place to come but their parents just cannot afford it.
“Although we do a great deal with bursaries already it is not limitless and we would love to be able to offer more.”
Next week’s conference will open on Monday with an address from Mrs Robinson followed by University of Liverpool Vice Chancellor Sir Howard Newby and is entitled ‘Think Future’.
And Mrs Robinson said she is particularly concerned about a government overhaul which from 2015 will see GCSEs in English, maths and science – replaced by a English Baccalaureate certificate in a bid to return to a more traditional style of schooling.
She said: “I believe the changes by Michael Gove (education secretary) ignore the technical world our students now live in.
“They also ignore the creative subjects. A lot of our technical advances stem from the creativity of the people behind them.”
She is also sceptical of the growth of centrally funded free schools which, out of town hall control set their own curriculum.
The Hawthorne’s free school in Bootle has led to a wrangle between Sefton council and trustees over who should pay the redundancies of staff at its predecessor schools.
Mrs Robinson said: “These academies and free schools are branded independent schools. But unlike schools like ours they are still accountable to the government.”