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March 14, 2006

Polly on Schools

A slight, err, misstatement, here:

...for what makes private schools excellent? They spend nearly three times more per capita than state schools,...

Spending on a private day school is within a whisker, the odd hundreds of pounds per year, of the State’s spending on a State day school. There is one major difference in that in the latter case the LEA takes 30% to feed the bureaucrats.

But to get to 3 times per capita? Ah, then you’ll need to add in the fees for private boarding schools. Clearly and obviously these have higher costs. As, in fact, do those small number of State boarding schools.

If we’re going to throw statistics around don’t you think we should be comparing like with like? Polly’s email is at the bottom of the article if anyone wishes to ask her about this. I’ve given up.

On the larger point she says that Labour MPs are making their decisions about the Education Bill in the following manner:

Talk to MPs who will now grudgingly vote for the bill, and you hear aggravation and outright anger. Freighted with unspoken meaning and pent-up frustration, this bill always tapped deeper questions than school governance.

As unsavoury revelations lap around the leadership, more is stirring than No 10 seems to notice. Peerages for anyone paying £1m? Do many cabinet ministers salt their family money away in offshore tax havens? How many more fat lecture fees for those proximate to power? Good grief, does "New" mean aspirational tax avoidance? Some notes in a brown envelope for asking questions for Harrods was less shocking: that was just Tories. That's what sensible Labour MPs are saying, and the cabinet had better open its ears.

So decisions about how millions of children are educated are not going to be taken on the basis of the evidence. What would or could be the best for that education. No, not at all, the evidence to be weighed is in fact whether fifty or a hundred people are pissed off about bribery.

This is an argument for the State running education in what manner?

March 14, 2006 in Politics | Permalink


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"Spending on a private day school is within a whisker, the odd hundreds of pounds per year, of the State’s spending on a State day school."

This is just not true. State spending per pupil last year was under £5,000 per year, whereas the average for day pupils at private schools was £8,388. Boarding schools day pupils are better funded, suggesting if you did a total for all pupils (adjusting for costs of board) spending would be nearer £9,000.

If you're right about your 30% goes to the LEA - a claim you have made many times but never provided supporting evidence - then spending per pupil by the schools (her claim) will be under £3,500, which is not far off being only a third of private spending.

Tim adds: Links please?

Posted by: Matthew | Mar 14, 2006 11:01:52 AM

For independent schools:


For state schools:

(this is not a brilliant source but it's right (though note date is 2004), and the DES website is a nightmare)


For LEA taking 30%:

Tim Worstall

Tim adds: Matthew. Those numbers on private schools are only for those members of the ISC. About half of the total number of private schools. (c. 1200 out of 2,500).

Posted by: Matthew | Mar 14, 2006 11:23:13 AM

Well Ok, one can only find out what is available (the government doesn't keep statistics). Wouldn't it be easier if you just provide the link for your thing about them being a whisker apart?

Tim adds: I got it from a couple of newspaper reports: which as we know don’t count as primary sources any more.

Posted by: Matthew | Mar 14, 2006 11:54:22 AM

Also the ISC claims to have 80% of privately-educated pupils attending its schools. So even if (and we have no reason to believe this) the other 20% were in schools with half the level that would only be a 10% reduction.

Posted by: Matthew | Mar 14, 2006 11:57:13 AM

The MOST important variable regarding outcomes for children is that the parents care about their childrens education.

Making parents responsible for funding their own childrens education would be a good first step to making sure they

Extortion funding of the education sector is especially morally wrong.

Posted by: Rob Read | Mar 14, 2006 1:51:34 PM

Private schools deliver good results because they have an excellent intake, surely? Education is seriously overrated.

Posted by: Kimmitt | Mar 14, 2006 4:14:04 PM

Matthew, that's extremely funny to read. Well done.

Tim: a lot of newspapers nowadays put their articles online. Links? Even though they're not primary sources in this case?

Here, let me help you out. Essex LEA - to take the easiest one to find - published its inspectors' report online for 2004. The numbers fall into three categories - individual schools budget (£2764 per pupil); total schools budget, which includes indiviudal schools budget as well as special needs costs and under-five education, and a few other costs, and comes to £3168 per pupil; and LEA budget, which includes "strategic management", "access" and a few other items, and comes to £328 per pupil.

So, in fact, on the worst possible interpretation, the "LEA bureaucrats" take 9% of the budget, and spend roughly half of that on "access", which, as far as I can make out, is non-English-speaking teachers and disabled access.

Primary source:http://www.essexcc.gov.uk/vip8/ecc/ECCWebsite/content/binaries/documents/LearningSocial/Essex_LEA_report-final_version.pdf.

There, that took me about five minutes.

Posted by: ajay | Mar 14, 2006 4:26:50 PM

by typing cost per pupil in state schools into google it took me about 10 seconds to find a paper by the adam smith institute www.adamsmith.org/pdf/customers-not-bureaucrats.pd which has the relevant facts showing Tim is basically right

Posted by: Mark T | Mar 14, 2006 7:31:41 PM

that link ends pdf - apologies. Basically it says that while spending looks higher - first up pupil teacher ratios are far better (one explanation) but secondly, capital costs are not accounted properly in the state numbers.

Posted by: mark T | Mar 14, 2006 7:34:20 PM

As Mark T points out, it is easy to forget that independent school fees have to cover capital costs and this is not accounted for in the spending figures for state schools.

My daughter goes to an independent school. It is literally a stone's throw from a state grammar school. The state grammar school - the only one in a huge 'catchment' area has a far more selective intake (only the most academic apply and only 10% of applicants get in), yet the exam results from the two schools are extremely similar. This tells you something.

What's more, my daughter's school (a registered charity) runs a substantial assisted places scheme. We benefitted from this as I was thrown out of work thanks to Brown's taxes on 3G licences and they have been fantastic in their support even though they knew the situation when we applied. This has to be taken into account when looking at independent school fees - not everyone pays the published fees.

Posted by: HJHJ | Mar 14, 2006 10:40:50 PM

"Spending on a private day school is within a whisker, the odd hundreds of pounds per year, of the State’s spending on a State day school."
"a paper by the adam smith institute has the relevant facts showing Tim is basically right"

From the paper (which refers to five years ago):
3. The average cost of independent education is thus approximately 40% higher on average than the average cost of state education, per pupil.

"Within a whisker".

Forty per cent higher.


Posted by: ajay | Mar 15, 2006 10:26:41 AM