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Labour propose to abolish fee paying schools

Discussion in 'Speaker's Corner' started by jsmoke, Nov 23, 2019.

  1. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,471

    Politicians they are disappointing creatures.

    Theresa May, her first statement setting out the aims of her administration, further illustrating the issue.




    Move on to spring 2019, 39% of the cabinet are privately educated in contrast to 9% of the shadow cabinet and the Lords has actually declined in terms of representing the wider public with an 8% rise in privately educated members under Cameron's and May's administration.

    Labour's populist rhetoric is little better than the Conservatives empty rhetoric here.

    The worst of it is, all parties know we have an issue and know that the unequal society we live in is not good for the long term health of the country. Yet the situation grows worse despite the hot air and rhetoric from all the main parties.
     
  2. MichaelAwkward

    Mobster

    Joined: Jul 22, 2014

    Posts: 3,189

    Location: Oxon

    You do realise it takes more than just teachers to run schools?

    And the shortage of teachers applies to the private sector too!
     
  3. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,471

    The academic successes of private schools demonstrates the importance of teachers to the system. Fees have doubled in the last couple of decades, in large part to lower the pupil teacher ratio. Private schools are able to employ better qualified teachers and a bigger share of teachers in shortage subjects like maths.

    Private sector is highly dependent on teachers trained at state expense and for initial work experience.

    Clearly the fact the private sector has expanded its teacher share rapidly over the last 20 years and those teachers are trained at state expense; suggests it contributes to a loss in the state sector of better qualified teachers and may be more apparent in shortage subjects like math's and sciences.
     
  4. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

    Posts: 47,573

    Location: Plymouth

    The solution to the state being a bad employer isn't to remove the employee's choice.
     
  5. garnett

    Soldato

    Joined: Mar 25, 2008

    Posts: 5,547

    This thread could have been closed here.
     
  6. RDM

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 1, 2007

    Posts: 20,232

    While bursaries are available for some subjects most teachers pay for their training.
     
  7. efish

    Wise Guy

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    Its true that you do pay but their is a cost met by the taxpayer. It varies between £18, 200 to £38, 200 per teacher, depending on the qualifying route.

    One billion payed in bursaries for shortage subjects.

    To be cost effective you want a high degree of retention in the system clearly, particularly if you want to further invest and improve numbers and quality of training.

    On the job training is a vital aspect of learning to teach and private schools can let the state do the heavy lifting here as well. Also a direct cost to individual schools here, and further indirect costs (time more experienced staff have to spend training/ observing those training).

    Lack of staff in schools impacts on its ability to train further teachers. The private sector would be particularly well placed here to train teachers (very high teacher to pupil ratio): but as its a time and money aspect and the private sector can use the state and the tax payer to pick up the bill it does not do so.

    Private system benefits considerable from a range of direct and indirect subsidy from the state which has contributed enormously to its rapid expansion of teacher numbers over the last 20 years.

    Cost here and its a cost the rest of society pays to ensure a small wealthy minority receive a top class education and competitive advantage later in life.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
  8. MichaelAwkward

    Mobster

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    ^If you're suggesting that private schools don't hire trainee teachers and invest heavily in their professional development, you couldn't be further from the truth.

    You seem to be painting the sector as a succubus that just steals valuable qualified teachers from the poor state schools.
     
  9. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,471

    From an article by Francis Green who is a Professor of Education at U.C.L the other source I used was the Institute for Fiscal Studies long term cost for Teacher Training.

    Drawing a perspective based on research and taking the time to read the research, rather than opinion mixed with melodramatic supposition.

    I don't think private schools should be banned but I do not think they should be subsidized and exempt for tax. For the reasons outlined above.

    p.s I am also not suggesting that this is an intentional strategy or that private schools are not good employers who support staff with further vocational training.

    Decisions here should be made on the basis of evidence rather than an emotive hatred of the system or conversely blind support for the way things are.

    Complex world and the systems we deploy are general far from perfect.

    The idea that everything is perfect here is either naive or something of a suspect political device.
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2019
  10. RDM

    Capodecina

    Joined: Feb 1, 2007

    Posts: 20,232


    Interestingly the article you quoted mentioned that private schools don’t have a significant impact on the supply of new recruits in the state sector. They do also take trainees (I work in a city with a university that does the PGCE, 5 state secondaries and 3 independent schools). All three independent schools take trainees. Somthey aren’t completely”freeloading” off the state.

    I have no real issue with them being tax exempt, the bursaries and scholarships they offer are charitable, they are non-profit organisations and there are plenty of other targets that could do with tax exemption going first.
     
  11. dowie

    Caporegime

    Joined: Jan 29, 2008

    Posts: 44,783

    Well yeah it is more of a side effect where the state has almost a monopoly. I mean you'll see the same in private detective agencies, private military companies, private healthcare etc... the state is the biggest provided by far of policing, education, the military, healthcare etc.. that people entering those professions will tend to enter the role via the state (and in part some of that is down to legal requirements, regulation of the relevant profession etc..).

    As for tax, it depends what you're talking about. I don't see why parents should be paying VAT on the fees - education (especially given its compulsory nature) seems like the sort of thing that ought to be VAT exempt.

    For example though they receive government funding UK universities are essentially private entities by US standards AFAIK - you wouldn't expect university students to pay VAT on top of their tuition fees would you? And university is entirely optional and something those individuals can profit from rather well - in fact if we're looking at the wealth divide or make up of professions you'll find that people who went to university (and these days paid for it) make up a much higher portion than those of their peers who didn't.

    With regards to business rates - there ought to be a level playing field there - I believe private schools get a tax break due to their status, IIRC state schools pay the full rate but also receive some sort of funding or rebate in return - if this does cause an anomaly whereby private and state schools are are paying different (net) rates overall then I do think that is unfair, though I don't necessarily believe that the automatic solution to that is to then immediately penalise private schools - why not adjust things on the state school side to bring them in line?

    What other tax exemptions are you referring to? I mean private schools are generally not run for a profit - they're usually charities.

    I guess some of the companies offering revision sessions over easter or offering some intense year of study for A-Level retakes etc... could be considered to be schools too, clearly offer an advantage (or at least claim to) and could be privately run - but AFAIK they do pay tax.
     
  12. efish

    Wise Guy

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    Private school is a massive educational successes. Its pupil base has remained static for decades as it is so expensive/ socially exclusive. Clearly the state and state educated kids would see a significant boost in regard to educational attainment if more resources came its way.

    Private schools are granted charitable status on the grounds that they serve 'the public good.'

    Clearly that's something of a political call and one that divides opinion.
     
  13. Dolph

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 17, 2002

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    Location: Plymouth

    Opinion should be largely irrelevant though when it comes to lawmaking and taxation. Those are things that should be managed and established on evidence and reason, not opinion, because opinion does not require valid justification.
     
  14. dowie

    Caporegime

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    Posts: 44,783

    Right but you’re replying to a point being made about rates.

    Firstly are you sure there is a discrepancy there in the first place?

    Secondly why penalise the private school - if you slash rates for the state school then they have more funds so why reference resources - if there currently is a difference in favour of private schools then surely slashing the rates for state schools is a more direct benefit than and slight increase in tax revenue gained from charging private schools slightly more.

    You haven’t really addressed the point made there but instead have just given an answer noting that private schools do well etc...

    I’m not sure that there is much of a difference in this respect tbh... state schools get a rebate currently.
     
  15. efish

    Wise Guy

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    In regard to charitable status the law is clear.

    Independent schools have to demonstrate that they are of public benefit. Specifically they have to demonstrate that they are more than of 'token' and 'minimal' benefit to the poor.

    In 2018 the government concluded independent schools were not doing enough but made no legislative move in regard to charitable status.

    That's a political statement. Made by a Conservative prime minister, the first speech of her office.

    Its strongly backed by the research in regard to the effect of independent schools on social mobility and inequality.

    The conclusion of the government from its own research in 2018 that independent schools were not doing enough to ensure greater inclusion ( the condition its required to meet to hold charitable status) is a further indication that issues exist.

    As far as I am aware no one in the thread has demonstrate that independent schools met the legal requirements to hold charitable status. Range of opinions as to why any contrary perspective must be untrue and any attempt to alter the system is based on envy or the desire to punish but little else.

    Number of pupils in the independent sector has remained static for decades. It retains position and is able to command high fees and provide excellent benefits to pupils because it is social exclusive and provides significant benefits for those with the means to pay.

    That is entirely at odds with the status it maintians as a charity as it is required under these terms to be a vehicle for social mobility and of benefit to all sections of society.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
  16. Brookert

    Mobster

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    Here's a thought. What happens to all those historical buildings up and down the country that become vacant with no private schools to maintain them?

    Many private schools occupy listed buildings or buildings of special interest. Public money cannot afford to take those on, and it would be a travesty to allow those buildings to fall into disrepair.
     
  17. efish

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jan 11, 2014

    Posts: 1,471

    Already significant subsidies paid to keep these buildings in tip top condition.

    At the moment £200m in direct subsidies and £2.5 billion in tax breaks that the independent sector benefits from.

    Bursary schemes in place have a tendency to benefit middle class children (many older students receiving bursary have already been put through prep school at parental expense) , the amount of money spent on bursaries is low and their is no evidence to suggest that the situation has changed or is changing.

    Independent schools receive significant amounts of money directly in state hand outs and further savings in tax breaks.

    That's been in place through years of austerity.

    It would seem that significant sums of public money can be funneled into the system at the moment.

    Although you seem more concerned with an unlikely and hypothetical future expense rather than the one tax payers are already paying for.

    If resources are as scarce as you correctly point out is it unreasonable to examine the tax/ handouts at the moment and ensure the money is properly spent and targeted to ensure greater accessibility?
     
  18. Meridian

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Oct 18, 2002

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    Location: Vvardenfell


    I don't know? Sell them? Put the raised funds into education? As you point out, they are valuable.
     
  19. efish

    Wise Guy

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    Posts: 1,471

    My kids 19th century listed, secondary school in a conservation area was sold and a new state of the art one built with the profits. It is a spectacular building but designed for the 19th century not the 21st.

    The new one is equally impressive. As with many older schools it was located in prime expensive real estate so sale for an eye watering sum was not exactly difficult and as its listed in a historical conservation area it's historical features have to remain.

    Unfortunate it went to a private housing developer rather than the mix of independent retailers/ community arts center and social housing development proposed. But that's the way of things.

    Redevelopment to a social public space seems fitting for such locations but expensive upmarket flats was where the biggest profit was to be found.
     
  20. MissChief

    Capodecina

    Joined: Jul 17, 2010

    Posts: 16,926

    I don't think they should be abolished, but they should be more tightly regulated. If they want to keep their charitable status then they can't be run for profit. If they want to be run as a business then they should have to report accounts and be registered as a company at Companies House.