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.