Wishing ill on the independent sector is offensive and will not help pupils in the state sector says the director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools
5th March 2019
John Edward believes that ‘Decrying the independent sector doesn't help any child’.
The binary Scottish school system is a reality, and the independent sector has been part of it for centuries. Government can, and does, seek to challenge them by calling for “parity” between their treatment and that of state schools – the current justification for a proposed five-fold increase in business rates. The increase has not been asked of any of the other 10,000 educational charities in Scotland (even those that also charge fees) or the remaining 14,000 bodies that receive relief. The charity regulator does not like it either. However, that same political debate will never support parity working both ways, for instance by extending full VAT exemption to education in independent schools, or requiring that public funding “follows the child” between the years of five and 18, just as it does both before and after.
Independent schools are not isolated from the chill winds of the economy, or from the inexcusable uncertainties of EU withdrawal. They, like all other educators, are braced for a powerful punch from the hike in employer contributions to teacher pensions (money which, once again, is derived from parental income, not from taxation). They will do their best to weather these blows, deliver the biggest per capita means-tested widening participation of any UK schools, meet additional support needs, and deliver the best individual outcomes for young people in a country that aspires to high attainment.
Wishing them ill in doing so, or treating them as a source of (non-existent) endless funds, can only load more costs on the taxpayer, and will not improve the life chances of a single pupil. The idea that independent school pupils' and parents’ absence from the state sector is a drain on the latter’s progress is more offensive to the 95 per cent committed to the state sector even than it is to the 5 per cent that have chosen the alternative.
A country like ours would be better placed making the most of the social capital it has – rather than letting the ideologically pure be the enemy of the educationally good.
Nearly half of London parents would ‘seriously consider sending children to boarding school in the country’
With parents across the country turning their attention to where their children go to secondary school, 40% of London parents say they’d seriously consider sending their children to boarding school in the countryside. The findings come from new research commissioned by coeducational Catholic school, Ampleforth College, which has unveiled its first ever pupils’ online prospectus. Students worked with a production team to ‘showcase what life at a rural school is really like today’.
The study found Londoners are spending more than £11million a year on extracurricular activities for their children, including breakfast clubs, after-school activities, and tutoring. Nearly half of parents in the capital (47.3%) also said that arguments over screen time and homework cause the most tension at home.