Private schools only look after themselves

blogschoolboyThere has always been a perceived gap between independent and state schools, with the privately educated seen to be given greater opportunities to succeed.

Tristram Hunt however wants to look into closing this gap in opportunity, giving state school pupils equal opportunities. “If we are to prosper as a country, we need to be a more equal country. If we are to make the most of the wealth of talent that exists in every school and every community, we need to give every child a chance.”

Mr Hunts plans to make independent and state schools to work together by forcing the private sector’s hand, threatening to strip independent schools of their tax breaks if they don’t cooperate. Independent schools currently claim £140 million in business rate tax relief, as well as receiving huge tax discounts given their charity status. Is this right though?  Mr Hunt stated how he believes it to be wrong that schools designed for the most privileged people in society are classed as charities and have charitable status.

Taking away charitable status and stripping independent schools of tax benefits is a bold move. What must be considered is whether with these changes, would the state sector be able to cope? Independent schools generate £4.7billion in tax, and apparently save tax payers a further £4billion by educating children in independent schools. The proposed changes potentially stop independent schools from being able to run effectively, and may result in larger class sizes in state schools, adding considerable pressure to an already stretched system.

Could Mr Hunt be forcing too strong a hand when all he wants is for private schools to work with state schools in helping bring the two closer together? Mr Hunt has stated if private schools wish to keep their current status they must:

  • Provide qualified teachers in specialist subjects to stat schools
  • Share expertise to help state school students getting into universities
  • Run joint extra-curricular programmes where the state school is an equal partner


Yet some independent schools already do all of these things. It must be taken into consideration as well that some state schools feel they do not need help. It has been recorded that just over half of Oxford universities students come from a state school background and an even higher percentage at Cambridge, so could Mr Hunt be underestimating the state sector?

Do you believe that private schools should be forced to work in tandem with state schools? Or do you believe they should be able to work together to find mutual ground in building partnerships? Have your say.

2 thoughts on “Private schools only look after themselves

  1. No private school should be forced to work with state schools, that should be at the discretion of the private institutions if they want to. It is a fact of life that within all societies there will be those who are financially better off then others, whether it is through hard work or inherited wealth etc, and if they want to send their children to a private school then good luck to them. Education should be made available to every child but there will always be sectors of society that will want the best and also want their offspring to be mixing with members of a particular class rather than be associating with the lower classes who have very little in common with them. I am afraid that is real life where competition, ambition and the desire to get ahead in life is what certain people want and are willing to pay for it through hard work and a certain amount of sacrifice.

    We are all dealt a different hand in life and there are those, no matter what their background is, who will get ahead and those who won’t but expect the state to pay for everything and their very presence sometimes is a drain on society, that is why we have free education, free healthcare and social welfare to cater for their lower aspirations,lack of money etc. Those that want to close the gap can do so through hard work, willpower and the desire to succeed.

  2. I agree with Paul. The fourth paragraph of the above blog makes a strong case for laissez faire. Private schools, like our universities, also receive substantial income from foreign students. Our balance of payments would be further worsened if the parents of potential foreign students felt that the fees they paid were being diverted to assisting state schools.

    An earlier blog raised the question of teacher shortages. Any further closures of private schools, because of additional pressures, will only put further pressures on the state sector.

    Private schools provide a huge financial benefit to the state because some of the taxes paid by the parents of private school students are essentially a gift to the state. I have read that it costs about £5,000 to educate a students in the state sector so, over seven years, this amounts to £35,000 that the state can spend elsewhere.

    With increased scottish and welsh devolution any pressure on private schools may well provide an opportunity for these two parts of the UK to benefit financially from England’s mistakes, as private schools move across the border. Universities abroad are already seeing increased numbers of students who are looking for cheaper alternatives to our own higher education.

    How parents choose to spend their money should not be interfered with by the state, especially as our private schools are non profit making and bring in valuable foreign income.

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