Holyport College - Educational Sponsorship

Partner: Holyport College, Holyport
Partner type: Maintained School
Project category: Sponsorship

Eton College is the sole educational sponsor of Holyport College. Following the decision of Eton's Governing Body to sponsor Holyport College in December 2012, a number of senior Eton staff were appointed as Governors in early 2013 and, with the founders, took responsibility for steering the school to opening. This involved the recruitment of the first Head Master and key staff and also overseeing the construction and procurement projects required to enable the school to open in September 2014.

Since the school opened, Eton's role as educational sponsor is developing but involves involvement in governance, a visible and meaningful collaboration among staff and pupils, and the provision of advice and expertise. The minimum commitment is set out in the Heads of Terms available here.

Aims of the project

The aim of the project is to establish a successful, co-educational state boarding school in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead as part of the Government's Free Schools programme, to meet the need for more secondary school places and to provide more choice of state school offering to parents. Eton believes in the beneficial, even transformative, influence of good boarding schools and that through its sponsorship of Holyport it can contribute its pastoral expertise and educational ethos for the benefit of its local community. 

Background and goals

The founder group (which included two Eton masters in a personal capacity) approached the College to act as educational sponsor. The original opportunity to establish a new free school within RBWM was identified by local councillor, Simon Dudley, who led the founder group and discussions with the DfE and EFA. The application to found a free school was granted in late 2012 and the school opened in September 2014.


In the initial period from January 2013 to September 2014, members of Eton's senior staff - five from the senior academic staff and the Bursar, Legal Advisor and Buildings Director - devoted a substantial amount of time to ensuring the new school had in place a governing body, staff and pupils and took responsibility for the strands of work (planning; construction; funding agreements) required to get the school ready to open in 2014.

Since opening, Eton staff time is still critical given that six sernior members of Eton staff (including the Head Master and Lower Master) are governors but, more importantly and directly impacting on Holyport pupils, Eton provides the Latin teaching (2014/15 and 2015/16), chaplaincy support, and staff mentoring for the NQT in Art and the newly appointed Head of Expressive Arts.

Joint INSET training on educating the most able has been provided and workshops on differentiation for Heads of Department in both Colleges have been held. Technology Enrichment days have been run at Eton for Holyport Year 7s.  In addition there is a programme of collaboration between pupils at both schools (see below).

Holyport use Eton's sports facilities both for regular sessions and matches, along with the rowing lake at Eton Dorney. Where possible, they also use Eton's musical facilities for concerts.

Although Eton's sponsorship is in kind, it has (with assistance from the Old Etonian Association) made financial contributions towards the MUGA, Boarding House furniture and mock inspection and has provided (second hand) a minibus, music tech computers, two pianos, and a set of timpani.


The respective Head Masters discuss each term the activities undertaken and their value. It is proposed that more formal strategic review and assessment is undertaken as the collaboration develops and Holyport grows to full capacity.

It is anticipated that pupils of both Colleges should benefit directly from the collaboration in terms of their own personal development, educationally and emotionally.

Pupil involvement

The following activities involve pupils from both Eton and Holyport:

Joint Choir Rehearsals (Autumn term): Holyport Choir (Yrs 7 - 10),  Eton Concert Choir (Yrs 9 - 11) and Eton Jazz Ensemble (Yrs 9 - 11). A joint concert was held in November 2015.

Debating Forum (involving pupils from Heathfield as well)

Yr 12 Eton Boys attending Holyport on Monday afternoons as part of their community service programme

Yr 11 and 12 Boys mentoring Holyport students in numeracy and literacy on Tuesday and Thursday evenings

Weekly Junior Investment Club run by Yr 12 Eton boys for Yrs 9-10 at Holyport.

Frequency and duration

This is intended to be an ongoing, long-term collaboration.