Taxpayers spend £250m sending army officers’ children to elite public schools including Eton and Harrow

TAXPAYERS spent £246 million in the last three years subsidising the private education of officers’ children attending elite schools such as Eton, Harrow and Gordonstoun. In the last year alone just eight leading public schools received nearly £2 million under the Ministry of Defence scheme which helps servicemen and women pay school fees. Tony Blair‘s old school Fettes was paid £441,027 and Eton, which has educated nineteen prime ministers including David Cameron, was given nearly £270,000. While the overall annual figure of £80 million remains almost unchanged, Eton, Harrow (£183,000), Marlborough College (£346,000) and Shrewsbury School (£231,000) all enjoyed bumper years, seeing increased MoD payments.

Read more at:

LIST OF TOP SCHOOLS AND FEES PAID BY MOD (from my Freedom of Information Request).

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Author: robertverkaik1

I'm a journalist and author writing about security, law and education. My first book, Jihadi John, the Making of a Terrorist, was published in 2016 by Oneworld. My second book is on private education and public schools and will be published in 2018.

11 thoughts on “Taxpayers spend £250m sending army officers’ children to elite public schools including Eton and Harrow”

  1. Mr Verkaik, can you say if you went to a public school yourself? You’re damned if you did or if you didn’t, so might as well tell. Looking forward to your book.


    1. Hi Estel. It’s a question I’m sure I am going to be asked quite a lot. So I may as well get used to answering it! And of course you are right, people will draw conclusions that suit their own prejudices about private education. I was hoping to try to get people to focus on the topic rather than individual education backgrounds. But having said all that, the answer is in the book!


      1. That’s very kind of you Mr Verkaik. It’s just the author’s background is bound to affect the view of the subject. It’s difficult to remain objective. I just finished reading The History of Harrow School by Tyerman, an Oxford don who did an authorised history. Most books on the subject are apologias for the schools, but Tyerman seems genuinely appalled by what he found!


      2. I was very conscious of how my own background would influence the book and so went out of my way to interview as many public school headmasters as possible as well as those in government who have been privately educated. I too found Tyerman’s book very good, especially on Charles Merivale and the Harrow’s woeful interpretation of its charitable purpose in the 1800s and treatment of its ‘charity boys’.


      3. I went through the Harrow Registers, and the snobbery was appalling, in the descriptions of father’s trade and social position. There is a great video on the net of a debate on the subject of Public schools, with David Aaronovitch and Francis Wheen – and awful, smug Harrow HM Barnaby Lenon. From him, doesn’t look as though attitudes there (or abuse for that matter) have changed much. Just the rationalisations for these things. Hope your book has an effect!


  2. Sorry if he is a close friend! Mine is a long-term project, part fascination part horror as I am from a very poor background. I hope to quote your book!


    1. I interviewed him for the book and I have to say he was very open and helpful. Good luck with your project and I’d be flattered if you get round to quoting from the book. There’s plenty in it you should like!


  3. Your book’s out! The excitement! I’ve been going through old copies of Cherwell in the Bod, this is 1979-81. Awful stuff! Unversity and public school students from the stone age. Plus there are some public schools with direct connections to Oxford colleges, who get a certain number of their own pupils into these colleges every year, no questions asked! Apparently it’s well known. Ian Hislop’s school, Ardingly is one, they have a connection with Magdalen. Naughty old Ian said the reason why he went to Magdalen was because he liked the buildings!


    1. Thanks Estel. It would be interesting to know how much this still goes on. So while Eton and Winchester may say that their ancient connections to respectively Kings College, Cambridge and New College, Oxford, hold no advantage today I wonder how many of their pupils still win places there? Be interesting to see what you’ve come up with.
      Best, Robert.


      1. Here’s what a long-time librarian at the Bodleian told me,
        ‘There were similar tie-ups between King’s Cambridge and Eton and New College and Winchester. I was told that in the 18th or 19th centuries when students graduated from King’s, the Provost would get in his coach, drive down to Eton and come back with replacements – no exams, of course. AND in those days King’s would present students for degrees .without them having to sit exams’
        Should be easy to find out if these connections are still there. Personally I am getting angrier the more I find out about how these things work….. Feel free to use my email direct on


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