Page last updated at 13:27 GMT, Monday, 19 May 2008 14:27 UK

Eton to enter state partnership

Eton College
Eton will join a partnership to "raise aspirations" for university applications

Eton College, the flagship independent school, is to enter into a partnership with local state schools.

This will be one of 23 projects in a 4m link-up between state and private education sectors, announced by Schools Secretary Ed Balls.

The partnerships are intended to improve provision for the most able pupils and to increase the numbers applying to university.

Mr Balls said this would help more children "reach their full potential".

The Independent State Schools Partnerships have already linked 330 schools, in an initiative supported by 10m government funding.

Building bridges

The latest partnerships, involving 145 state and 37 independent schools, mark a widening of efforts to build bridges between the sectors - and to allow state pupils to access specialist facilities and teaching.

They will focus on gifted pupils and improving standards in maths, science and languages.

Eton College will be involved in a four-year partnership with local schools including Langleywood, St Joseph's Catholic High School, Beechwood School, Windsor Boys' School and Heston Community School.

Langleywood is set to become the Langley Academy, opening this autumn.

Eton, where Conservative leader David Cameron went to school, will be in a partnership which will share sixth form expertise, including "raising aspirations" about university applications.

The fees for the school, in Windsor, Berkshire, are currently 26,490 per year.

Schools Minister Andrew Adonis described this next phase of partnerships as a "new era for independent/state schools partnerships. They have been a success to date, helping provide thousands of children with academic and pastoral opportunities".

The widening of access to the private sector is also being driven by the increased scrutiny of the Charity Commission, which wants independent schools to show that they are not "exclusive clubs".

Fee-paying private schools will be expected to show that they offer public benefit to retain their charitable status.

A number of high-profile independent schools have announced plans to support a wider range of pupils - such as supporting an academy or increasing the number of bursaries.

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