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May 23, 2005

Hattersley and Class Politics.

Roy Hattersley shows his socialist colours here.

Christopher Price - ex-MP, sometime vice-chancellor and perpetual educationist - is leading a one-man campaign to improve the charities bill. His anxieties, naturally enough, concern its application to "independent schools", for which "charitable status" provides a tax exemption that amounts to a government subsidy.

But there is no reason in law or logic why fee-paying education cannot be reduced - with the removal of charity status as a first step - to a level at which its products are no longer influential in society.

So the hope of equity lies with elected MPs. They have to decide whether or not they want their constituents to subsidise public schools - with the schools doing nothing in return.

Of course, he proclaims himself a socialist so there’s nothing wrong in his seeking socialist goals. I do worry a little about the equation of "tax break" with "subsidy".  Not taking money from people is not quite the same thing as giving money to them.

My own, slightly odd, I agree, argument for the existence of private schools is that they do serve a huge public purpose, provide quite massive benefits to society in general. The show us quite how crap the State system is. Current costs for private day schools are within spitting distance of the costs of State day schools. The results from the private sector are vastly better. The embarassment this engenders in those who have to defend the State system is worth, to me, every penny of whatever taxes the private schools are not paying.

One might also ask what the hell he means by the private schools offering nothing in return. You mean education is nothing these days?

There’s also the elephant in the room, the thing determinedly ignored. Those parents who send their children to private schools have already paid the tax to fund the State system. They also then pay extra to educate their children. Currently the budget for education and skills is around 30 billion a year. Some 10% are privately educated. So the State saves 3 billion odd a year by not educating those who are so privately.

Yes, sure, those numbers are very sketchy, but does anyone think that the "tax break" of charitable status is worth more than that? Even a significant fraction of that? The Government makes a huge profit out of the existence of private schools....and Roy ignores that, stating that they provide nothing to the wider society.

Bollocks, to put it kindly.

May 23, 2005 in Academia | Permalink


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» DK's schooldays... from The Devil's Kitchen
I meant to write a post about private schools when I saw this post by Tim but, as usual, never quite got around to it. Tim was commenting on this article by the fat, unpleasant Roy Hattersley. [Read More]

Tracked on Aug 18, 2005 8:15:40 PM


Well Parents that do not use coercion funded state education should get a tax break, and economically free schools should pay tax.

I'd just prefer it if we loaned parents the money for their childrens education. Someone should pay, and that's the parents.

Posted by: Rob Read | May 23, 2005 12:35:57 PM

I wonder why Fattersley didn't write an article arguing for withdrawal of charitable status from, say, animal welfare charities that do nothing for the public good (if we assume that animals don't count as part of the public)?

Of course, the only independent school he mentions is Eton. Anti-independent schools campaigners only ever mention boarding fees because this makes them sound like they're only for the very rich. many independent schools have fees around one-third of those of Eton.

My daughter's independent school certainly serves a charitable purpose - only because my daughter receives an assisted place can we afford to avoid the only, and unsuitable, local state school we would have to put up with otherwise.

Posted by: HJHJ | May 23, 2005 12:41:06 PM

I was once in a taxi going past a local Independent girls school. The cabbie asked if I'd family there. "Yes". "What's it cost, guv?" "£5000 a year" (back then). "Is that all? I've got a daughter that's bright....". I hope she got in.

Posted by: dearieme | May 23, 2005 2:22:53 PM

As I've said before in another place, the private schools would be much better advised to give this one up without a fight.

If they take the state's shilling (whether they see it what way or not) they will sooner or later have to do the state's bidding. We see this already in pressure to open facilities to non-customers, etc etc.

REAL independence is better.

Posted by: Andrew Duffin | May 23, 2005 3:33:41 PM