Eton College and its state partner Star Academies reveal plans 

  • 28th February 2024

Simon Henderson and Hamid Patel at Eton College

Eton College and its state school trust partner Star Academies have published their first joint research report, which focuses on high achievers failing to meet their potential.

They have agreed to open an education think tank to pool the expertise of both organisations to dismantle barriers to achievement.

Their first research report, undertaken by Public First and the Education Policy Institute, found that more than 5,000 young people a year achieved excellent GCSE results (at least an A or A* in English and maths) in 2013, but didn’t progress to get a university degree by the age of 25 – representing 9% of the high-achieving cohort.

The study recognises that a university education isn’t the sole measure of success, with other opportunities available, including degree apprenticeships, higher technical qualifications and specialist vocational courses. It concludes that whatever options are pursued by young people, developing their academic talent improves life chances and brings wider social and economic benefit.

Star Academies chief executive Sir Hamid Patel said: “Our partnership is an incredibly strong one, with foundations in both a shared vision for education and in tangible delivery. This can be seen in the work we are already doing together – developing our plans for three new sixth form colleges and working with partner schools – and in what we plan to achieve in the future with our new ‘think and do tank’.”

The Eton Star Partnership’s think tank, also branded as a ‘do tank’, will specifically focus on ways to ensure that as many high-achieving young people as possible access courses and qualifications allowing them to fulfil their potential.

It will commission academically rigorous research, conducted within and beyond its own organisations. Initially much of the work will be focused on the three towns that will be home to the new sixth form colleges being opened by the Eton Star Partnership in the next few years: Dudley, Oldham and Middlesbrough.

The Eton Star Partnership will have three pillars:

  • Undertaking research generating insights on the barriers holding young people back from realising their potential. It will work with schools, colleges, universities, sector organisations and international partners to ensure its findings inform policy, investment and school practice.
  • A comprehensive learning exchange to stimulate best practice and spur growth and development of the sector. The Eton Star Partnership will gather influential school system leaders and educational thinkers to explore current issues and influence policy. A network of ‘lighthouse institutions’ will be created to enrich the country’s educational continuing professional development and research, and play an important role in shaping national policy.
  • An innovation hub that puts research into practice on the ground and incubates high-ambition, high-impact initiatives and can be scaled up. At its core will be the three Eton Star sixth form colleges, which will become sub-regional institutions, providing opportunities and improved life chances for academically gifted young people. Developing the EtonX platform, already accessed remotely by thousands of young people worldwide, will be another cornerstone of this work.

Eton College head master Simon Henderson said: “The Eton Star Partnership will be a wonderful example of leading players in the state sector and the independent sector working together to increase educational opportunities for young people.”

Eton College announced: “The Eton Star Partnership is already working with a network of more than 100 secondaries in Oldham, Dudley and Middlesbrough. It will be a foundational principle of the new organisation that its research base includes practice that is incubated on the ground. As such, its distinctive feature will be its ‘top-down bottom-up’ approach – the new ideas and interventions developed and implemented within networks of schools and colleges will be evaluated, refined and developed to enable the education sector to achieve more. It will therefore have an unprecedented level of both rigour and credibility.”

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