Private schools chase inner-city ‘drive’

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Ambitious pupils from poorer backgrounds are lifting standards.

She did not want to board and nor did her parents, a school lunchtime supervisor and a lorry driver, want her to leave home. Still, when Ella Wellingbrook, 15, first visited her new school, she did concede it was “very pretty and looks historic”.

Francis Holland, a day school in Chelsea, however, did want Ella, which meant she could take up a fully-funded sixth-form place and work towards her dream of becoming a child psychologist, without leaving her home in Newham, east London. Like a growing number of leading private schools, it is welcoming state school pupils not as an act of charity but because of the benefit of having their academic brilliance in its sixth form.