22 November 2019
Julie Robinson, chief executive of the ISC, responds to the Labour Party’s manifesto, which outlines the Party’s plan to “close the tax loopholes enjoyed by elite private schools” and seek advice on “integrating” them into the state sector.
Chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), Julie Robinson said:
It is deeply concerning that the Labour Party is prioritising ideology over improving education for our children and young people. We should be working together to improve outcomes for all children. Abolishing independent schools through integration/nationalisation would be an attack on the rights and freedoms of parents to make choices over the education of their children, while punitive financial measures will harm families as well as school staff and communities, heap more pressure on the state sector, swell class sizes and result in higher costs. We all want to see a well-funded state school system. We share an ambition to improve the lives of all children – but imposing VAT on school fees will make this harder, not easier. Research shows a VAT on fees policy would cost the Government at least £416m in its fifth year once pupil displacement and VAT recovery is taken into account. It would significantly affect smaller independent schools, leading to closures. European law currently exempts education from VAT because of the value of learning to society and independent schools are not treated as a special case in this respect. Imposing VAT on school fees would penalise parents who are choosing to do the best for their children. It would be a tax on learning.