I heard a passionate debate on Any Questions and Any Answers this week on the latest proposal from some private schools that they could provide free places to lower income pupils if the state paid them the average sum the state pays public sector schools for their places.
Those against argued that the fee paying schools do well out of their charitable status, and should not be given additional state cash. They saw the fee paying schools as seeking talent and money from the state sector to improve their own budgets and talent pools. They argued that everyone needing state support should use the comprehensive places that can be made available, though most fell short of demanding the closure of all fee charging schools for the rich.
Those who favoured the move thought it was a win win. Able pupils from low income backgrounds could receive excellent academic educations in the fee paying sector alongside children from rich parents. The school would subsidise the place, and the state would be spared any above average cost and additional capital cost of providing more places by putting pupils into private sector settings that already have their buildings and equipment. This could represent a decent saving in parts of the country needing to expand provision.
I myself won a scholarship providing a free place at a Direct Grant school. I also had the offer of a grammar school place, so either way would have received an academic education capable of helping me to university. It worked for me, and I saw no harm in it at the time. I would be interested in your thoughts on this suggestion from some fee charging schools.