THE principal of Stamford Endowed Schools has pledged to maintain the number of subsidised school places once the county council-funded scholarship scheme ends.
Stephen Roberts says the schools will make more money available for bursaries once Lincolnshire County Council stops funding places for high-achieving pupils.
Fees at the boys-only Stamford School and at Stamford High School, for girls, are £12,000 a year but the council receives a 40 per cent discount.
Mr Roberts says the money the schools use to subsidise the scholarship scheme places will be used to fund bursaries instead.
The bursaries will be means-tested so some pupils could still get a fully-funded place, although most will pay a reduced rate.
Mr Roberts said: “We hope that through the steps we are trying to take we can continue to offer a good academic education to children whose parents could not necessarily afford the full fees.
“I hope the schools will help about the same number of pupils although there won’t be as many fully-funded places.”
Until 2006 the county funded 50 places a year at the school. Then it announced it was axing the scheme, which it described as “not viable” and has been gradually decreasing the number of pupils it funds since.
In September, the last 24 pupils will start at the endowed schools under the council scholarship scheme.
But Mr Roberts said he hoped to maintain the number of pupils with subsidised places at about 420, which amounts to a third of pupils, even after the last funded pupils leave in 2018.
He said the withdrawal of the county scholarship scheme was “detrimental to Stamford” because parents would have to take more steps to get their children into the schools.
Mr Roberts said: “The difficulty with losing the county scholarship scheme is that the situation will no longer be as black and white.
“With the county scholarship scheme, it was a case of the children having the qualifications. But with the bursary scheme, it is means-tested so I think there is a worry with parents because it is a little bit intrusive.”
From September there will be 274 pupils on county council-funded places. There will also be 25 pupils funded through the school’s foundation, which it set up in response to the withdrawal of the scheme.
The endowed schools have a foundation card offering anyone who subscribes to it discounts to a range of shops and services in Stamford. It costs £10 a month to subscribe to the card, which goes towards funding places.
Mr Roberts said it had already been a huge success.
He said: “It is growing steadily because I think people recognise the importance of offering a good education to pupils in Stamford but they’re also getting something in return.”