With a widening gap between the UK's private and state education sector, Master of Marlborough college, Jonathan Leigh, announced that more must be done to bridge the gap and reduce "isolated enclaves of privilege." In October last year, Sir Michael Wilshaw, Head of Ofsted, addressed a conference with public school heads demanding that these schools offer the state sector more than just "crumbs off your table." With fees of £33,000 per year, Marlborough College encourages well-rounded pupils by acknowledging the importance of the arts and sports alongside the more traditional academic pursuits, says Leigh. Recognising the college's ability to provide the facilities for pupils to do this, Leigh stated that there is a lot to be done in order to "demystify the difference between state and private education." Currently, the college engages with Swindon Academy by allowing academy pupils to utilise the college's facilities for extra curricular activities. Plans are underway for a new relationship with another comprehensive school in the area, Pewsey Vale. Leigh reveals that the college's pupils "teach youngsters to read in local primary schools and others who travel to nearby schools to help with multiple learning difficulties." He argues the importance for independent schools to engage with the local community, as the partnerships will be mutually beneficial.
The Independent Schools Council (ISC) released analysis taken from last year that showed even though less than 3% of private schools currently sponsor academies, 92% have developed relationships with neighbouring state schools and offer their facilities as well as sharing classes and clubs. According to reports, last week the Sutton Trust released its new "mobility manifesto" that asked for support and funding with its new project that aims to open up private schools by admitting students based upon academic ability and not financial stability. Barnaby Lenon, chairman of ISC, said the council had a "strong commitment to social mobility" and strongly argued that private schools contribute significantly to try to break down this private-state barrier. However, critics are still stating that there is still not enough being done.