Two independent schools have committed to awarding a record amount of financial aid during the 2021-22 academic year to help students whose families could not otherwise afford to send them to the schools.

The families of 161 students at Haberdashers' Boys and Girls schools in Elstree will share £3.2 million of financial support.

A record 84 students have been awarded full bursaries meaning their families pay no school fees at all.

The schools have confirmed this support is part of a long-term strategy to ensure students are drawn from a wide range of economic, ethnic and social backgrounds, representing the broader society they will join when they leave the schools, which have more than 2,500 pupils collectively.

Simon Cartmell, chairman of the school's governing body, said: "We want to attract bright and capable students who would thrive here, even if their families have limited financial means. That’s what Habs has always been about."

When students apply for admission to the schools, their families can apply for means-tested bursaries at the same time. A family’s income, assets and financial obligations are all considered in determining whether they qualify for assistance, and how much.

As a guide, though, families this year were eligible for a free place if their total household income was £40,000 or less. Families who earn £85,000 or more are not eligible for financial assistance.

Borehamwood Times: Headmaster and headmistress Gus Lock and Rose Hardy Headmaster and headmistress Gus Lock and Rose Hardy

Headmistress at Habs Girls, Rose Hardy said: "Both schools have fantastic teachers, facilities and, of course, students. But given our location, there’s a risk of becoming isolated from the communities that surround us.

"One way we aim to prevent that is by building partnerships with neighbouring schools and community organisation. Another is by widening access to high-achieving local students whose families couldn’t afford a Habs education without financial assistance."

Habs Boys head master Gus Lock added: "We know there are many local families who don’t consider Habs because they think they can’t afford it.

"We are trying to get the word out locally that if you’re a well-rounded student with a curious mind and a love of learning, Habs might be the place for you, and your family might be eligible for financial support."