“Tristram Hunt does not have the Full Picture”…

Private Schools Save the Taxpayer £3 Billion on Top of Fulfilling their Charitable Status, says President of the Girls’ Schools Association

President of the Girls’ Schools Association, Alice Phillips, says that Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt’s plans to refuse private schools tax cuts – based on their lack of charitable involvement with the state sector – just don’t add up:

“I don’t think Tristram Hunt can have the full picture. Partnership work goes on in every charitable school in the country and any attempts to impose a narrow criteria on schools could very well jeopardise the excellent work that’s already in progress.

“The danger is that implementing this policy idea will waste more taxpayers’ money setting up yet another quango to police what is already being done. It’s ridiculous. As Tristram Hunt should know, because he went to one, independent schools come in all shapes and sizes and their contribution to the government’s coffers, and the amount they spend on bursaries, far outweighs any cost.”

Dr Hunt says that he wants to save the taxpayer £700 million on independent schools business relief. But independent schools generate £3.6 billion in tax, five times more than they get in terms of business rate relief. They save the taxpayer £3 billion in educating children at our schools rather than in the state sector, which is the equivalent of about 100,000 teachers. And they contribute £9.5 billion to the economy.

In terms of managing partnerships with the state sector, Dr Hunt talks about partnerships in a way we certainly do not. We don’t want paternalistic and patronising partnerships. What’s the point of that? The partnerships that already exist are all about getting on and doing things together, locally, where there is a will and a need between both partners, state and independent.

Independent schools are already working with maintained schools in all sorts of ways. Examples of the partnerships that already exist include:

  • providing qualified teachers in specialist subjects such as classics or opening up our own classes to state school pupils
  • sharing expertise to help state school students get into top universities
  • running joint extra-curricular programmes where the state school is an equal partner
  • providing GCSE or A-level revision classes – some boarding schools run residential revision classes
  • coaching for music, drama and sport and use of facilities
  • providing Saturday schools for local state schools

And that doesn’t even touch on the bursary provision the sector makes, which is rising all the time.

At the end of the day, school leaders in either sector do not need politicians telling them what’s best for their school or their pupils. We’ve already identified that we work well together and we’re already doing it, some of us for several decades.”

This article appears in Independent School Parent  25/11/2014

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