Read the report

Today, the Eton Star Partnership published its first research report, which explores the number of high-achievers who don’t fulfil their potential.  

Eton College and Star Academies have announced plans to jointly open a major new education think tank that will bring together the expertise of both organisations to develop and deliver solutions that dismantle barriers to achievement. 

The Eton Star Partnership will unite two of the highest performing educational organisations in the country in a bid to incubate ideas, expertise, and fresh perspectives that will galvanise educational transformation. 

Their first research report, which was jointly undertaken by Public First and the Education Policy Institute, found that more than 5,000 young people per year achieved excellent GCSE results (at least an A or A* in English and maths) in 2013 but did not then go on to get a university degree by the age of 25. This represented 9 per cent of the high-achieving cohort.  

The study recognises that, of course, a university education is not the sole measure of success and that many new opportunities have emerged in recent years, including degree apprenticeships, higher technical qualifications and specialist vocational courses. It concludes that whatever options are pursued by young people developing their academic talent not only improve their own life chances, but also bring wider social and economic benefit.  

Star Academies chief executive Sir Hamid Patel CBE said, “We are incredibly excited to be working with Eton on this project. Our partnership is an incredibly strong one, with foundations in both a shared vision for education and in tangible delivery. This can be seen in the work we are already doing together – developing our plans for three new sixth form colleges and working with partner schools – and in what we plan to achieve in the future with our new ‘think and do tank’.” 

The new Eton Star Partnership think tank – which will also, importantly, be a “do tank” -– will specifically focus on ways to ensure that as many high-achieving young people as possible access courses and qualifications that allow them to fulfil their potential. 

It will commission academically rigorous research, to be conducted within and beyond its own organisations. Initially much of the work will be focussed on the three towns that will be home to the new sixth form colleges being opened by the Eton Star Partnership in the next few years, Dudley, Oldham and Middlesbrough. 

The Eton Star Partnership will have three pillars: 

  1. Commissioning and publishing research that generates new insight on the key barriers that hold young people back from realising their potential. Importantly, it will work with schools, colleges, universities, sector organisations and international partners to ensure that its findings inform policy, investment and school practice. Currently, the Eton Star Partnership is working on three research projects, of which today’s publication is the first. There will be two more published this year. 
  1. A comprehensive learning exchange to stimulate best practice and spur growth and development of the sector. The Eton Star Partnership will gather the most influential school system leaders and solution-focussed educational thinkers in the country to explore current issues and influence policy. Today’s conference at Eton College’s Dorney Lake is the first of this conference programme. A network of Lighthouse Institutions will be created to enrich the country’s architecture of educational CPD and research, and play an important role in shaping national policy. 
  1. An innovation hub that puts research into practice on the ground and incubates high ambition, high impact initiatives and can be scaled up. At its core will be the three Eton Star sixth form colleges, which will become exceptional sub-regional institutions, providing enriching opportunities and improved life chances for academically gifted young people. Developing the groundbreaking EtonX platform, already accessed remotely by thousands of young people across the world, will be another cornerstone of this work. 

Eton College Head Master Simon Henderson said, “The Eton Star Partnership will be a wonderful example of leading players in the state sector and the independent sector working together to increase educational opportunities for young people.” 

The Eton Star Partnership is already working with a network of more than 100 secondaries in Oldham, Dudley and Middlesbrough. It will be a foundational principle of the new organisation that its research base includes practice that is incubated on the ground. As such, its distinctive feature will be its ‘top-down bottom-up’ approach: the new ideas and interventions developed and implemented within networks of schools and colleges will be evaluated, refined and developed to enable the education sector to achieve more. It will therefore have an unprecedented level of both rigour and credibility. 

Sir Hamid Patel CBE added, “Today’s research points the way to the kind of projects we will work on in the future.”