Boarding schools should offer bursaries to “squeezed middle” families with incomes of £60-80,000 so they are not left out of the sector and begin to “resent” it, the headmaster of Eton College has said.
Speaking at the Boarding Schools Assocation (BSA) annual conference, association president and boarding school head Tony Little said that something “imaginative” needed to be done to ensure that parents with middle incomes did not find themselves priced out of the sector.
He said parents who were GPs, airline pilots and senior police officers were among the group unable to afford to send their children to boarding schools.
Mr Little said: “In the past, such families would be able to afford to send two children to boarding school. Costs are rising faster than inflation and disposable income.”
He said boarding school fees had risen by 1 per cent more than inflation since the 2008 recession.
He added: “It is important and a wonderful thing, to support children from disadvantaged backgrounds by helping them gain access to our schools.
“Many boarding schools spend a great deal of time and energy in creating significant bursary opportunities.
“The tendency is to divert this money to where it is perceived to be most needed. Yet the more one is involved in the difficult business of allocating bursary money, the trickier it is.
“It seems odd to be considering to offer financial support to the squeezed middle on combined salaries of £60,000 £80,000 but unless something imaginative is done, the sons and daughters of the traditional professional who have supported boarding schools for generations will be left behind and join those that resent or oppose the institutions that developed them.”
Mr Little will step down as headteacher of Eton this summer.