Today a prospective parent told us that the reason they have to consider a private school is because there isn’t a single primary school within 3.6 miles of Stafford with a place for a child to go into Year 1.
In a few months’ time, the picture will most likely be worse if Labour enact their punitive policies on the independent sector.
Labour’s policies to supposedly fix state education all centre around punitive action towards the independent sector. There will be VAT on school fees, withdrawal of business rates relief, the inability of independent schools to claim back VAT on projects in the last seven years and now there is further proposed legislation to prevent parents taking advantage of legitimate “fees in advance” schemes.
Sir Keir Starmer and his pack have said that the parents and schools can afford it. They can’t and this is now becoming a mendacious and pernicious attack on a sector that is trying to give children the best start in life. Surely this has to be a worry for us all, whether or not our children are privately educated?
“Is it wrong to spend an inheritance on your children’s future?”
It is a minority of parents who can afford the fees in advance schemes – the latest area to come under attack. Within my school we are talking 1-2 per cent of families.
Those who are able to pay into such a scheme are not flush with money in the way that many may assume but have chosen to invest an inheritance in their children’s futures. My own family is one such example.
Is that wrong? According to Labour it is not an acceptable use of the inheritance. We could have spent it on an amazing holiday, a new car or paid off some of our mortgage. We chose to spend it on our children’s future.
It was also said by Sir Keir on LBC radio recently that the VAT is “paid by schools, they don’t have to pass this onto the parents, they can do it in other ways.”
“It is a minority of parents who can afford the fees in advance schemes.”
This is evidently a new interpretation of the tax rules; VAT has never been a tax on the businesses, it has always been a tax on the consumer. It is worrying that our future Prime Minister is unaware of this (and I say that with the recognition that a Labour victory seems pretty much inevitable).
As a headmaster, I would be very grateful if Labour would explain to us how we don’t have to pass this onto our parents? As a school we run on the finest of margins. We are a not-for-profit school and if there is any surplus it is immediately reinvested to benefit our pupils.
With the further loss of business rates relief, any VAT we will be able to reclaim is immediately wiped out. Bear in mind schools’ larger cost is always its staff, on which VAT is not recoverable, so VAT relief for schools does not present the windfall many are suggesting.
“The independent sector is taking on many children that the state sector can’t support.”
Sadly, I can see all that Labour is looking to do, having a hugely detrimental impact on the education landscape. There will be increased pressure on state schools and a reduction in partnership work that has taken a long time to develop.
The independent sector is taking on many children that the state sector can’t support – why can’t they see this and support us rather than try to pull us down?
In a recent post I put on LinkedIn the CEO of Co-Op Academy Trust said that what was being proposed by Labour was fair and equitable and that the independent sector should pay its way.
I am afraid I was unable to bite my tongue and I did reply to say “do you really think independent schools are not paying their own way?! They receive absolutely no financial support except from the fees.”
In their most recent report (2022) it makes it very clear that his own academy trust is “significantly dependent on government funding to meet salary costs.” We would be thrilled to receive any support from the government and the best we have, for which we are very grateful, is the charitable status and the VAT relief and reduced business rates.
“There is no logic in what Labour is proposing.”
Our parents have already paid for a state education and the fees they pay are out of taxed income.
What has motivated this vitriolic attack on the independent sector that is simply trying to give children the best start in life?
There is no logic in what Labour is proposing and I sincerely hope people will take the time to look honestly at their claims.
Just as Boris’ Brexit bus heralded a falsehood, so are the claims being made by Labour. Are we really going to fall for it again when it’s our children’s future at stake?