Private school bursaries are being used to top up the fees of middle class children, a leading headmaster has said.
Dr Anthony Wallersteiner, head of the £36,000-a-year Stowe School in Buckinghamshire, said that independent schools are not doing enough to reach out to children from deprived households.
He said that a large proportion of bursaries are handed out to the “squeezed middle” – children of doctors, lawyers and owners of small businesses – who can no longer afford to pay fees in full.
“The majority of means tested bursaries will be topping up the squeezed middle who can’t afford £40,000-a-year fees,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“We are going back to the demographic profile that used to send their children to the local independent schools when I started in teaching – local solicitors, GPs, people who run family businesses, local farmers, people in the armed forces from the rank of, say, major upwards – the middle classes. They are being squeezed out of private education because of affordability.”
Last year there were 5,657 children whose places were fully funded by bursaries, which is one per cent of the total number of children at private schools, according to figures published by the Independent Schools Council (ISC).
Meanwhile 22,757 pupils (four per cent) were handed bursaries that paid for up to half of the fees, and 66,327 bursaries (12 per cent) went to children of staff, clergy or armed forces.