From next year, around £1 million of funding will be made available each year to boys entering the school via the new Scholarship and Access Award Scheme.

To be considered, boys will first sit tests that are being developed especially for the school, by the curriculum, Evaluation and Management Centre at Durham University’s Department of Education.

These secure tests, which will be taken on line at Bedford School, will measure true academic potential and are designed to be taken by pupils from any background. These awards will also be rigorously means tested.

Dr Evans (pictured) said “This radical new scheme is a challenge to the independent sector as a whole in making our schools more accessible to all pupils of ability. What we are seeking to achieve at Bedford is ready access to a high-quality academic education at a major independent boarding/day school for those students who have the raw talent to benefit fully from what we have to offer.

“We will be working closely with Durham University in our aim to make this new scheme as fair a test of academic potential as modern educational ideas can deliver.”

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