Secondary school charging £22,500 a year opens in Mayfair

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One of Britain's most exclusive secondary schools has opened its doors, offering a "traditional British education in the heart of the capital" to wealthy children from around the world.

The Grade I-listed Eaton Square Upper School, which charges fees of up to £22,500 a year, boasts an art class with a domed ceiling, while a chandelier hangs in the stairwell and a corridor is lined with stained glass windows.

School assemblies will be held in a state-room hung with original 1761 green silk wallpaper, while the headmaster's office features the original wood panelling from Lady Coventry's dressing room when the building served as the Earl of Coventry's 18th Century home.

The Mayfair townhouse has undergone a £5.25 million renovation to restore its interiors to their former grandeur, as originally designed by British neoclassical architect Robert Adam.

The school has welcomed 106 pupils, aged between 11 and 14, from around the globe, having proved particularly popular with families from the Arab states, Russia, China and South Korea.

Upper school headteacher Philip Williams said: "Eaton Square Upper School is the only senior school in Mayfair and the only school offering a traditional British education in the heart of the capital."

Philip Williams
Upper School headteacher Philip Williams (Lauren Hurley/PA)

He added: "We do have a number of children from well-known families around the globe. We don't yet have Prince George at the upper school. I'm sure we'll be having many children of good repute in due course."

But the lucky students' salubrious surroundings highlight the gap between a wealthy private education and the student experience in cash-strapped state schools.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust, an educational charity which aims to improve social mobility, said: "Access to a good education and facilities should not be the preserve of those who can afford high school fees.

Eaton Square Upper School
A state-room hung with original 1761 green silk wallpaper will be used as a school assembly room (Lauren Hurley/PA)

"At a time when London state schools face significant real funding cuts, it is important that we do all we can to ensure that good teaching is available to students of all backgrounds.

"London's state schools have improved their academic results, but their pupils should also be able to access the life skills and networks, as well as the sporting and cultural facilities, that so often give private pupils the edge in life."