Page 11 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 11

Finance Comment
This was the headline on former Education Secretary Michael Gove’s comment piece in The Times, which argued for the removal of charitable schools’ tax breaks. Once again it seems that someone who should know better still clings to the false belief that parents who choose to send their children to independent schools are all rich – so far from the truth that it would be laughable were it not such a serious misunderstanding.
Reports shed further
light on UK education
gender divide
Two statistics reports published last month (February) by international exams group Cambridge Assessment shed further light on the gender divide in UK education.
The  rst report, Candidates awarded A* and A grades at GCSE in 2015, found that nearly two thirds (65%) of those who achieved 10 or more A* grades at GCSE were female. The picture for A grades was similar, with girls making up 64% of those achieving at least 10 A* or A grades.
The second report, Ranking of candidates’ best GCSE grades by subject in 2015, sheds light on the gender divide at subject level, with boys twice as likely as girls to achieve their best grade in Maths, while girls were much more likely than boys to achieve their best grade in English Literature, Religious Studies or Art & Design.
The analyses are part of a routine series of statistics reports which are regularly released as part of Cambridge Assessment’s commitment to transparency and access to exams data. The data for both analyses was taken from the National Pupil Database held by the Department for Education.
Both reports are available on the Cambridge Assessment website here: www.cambridgeassessment.org.uk/our-research/all-published-resources/statistical-reports
FEEDING
INDEPENDENT MINDS
Removing charitable status would be hugely counter-productive,
for both the independent and state school sectors, and for the taxpayer.
Charitable status is worth an estimated £150 million to independent schools, but comes, quite properly, with conditions, chie y that public bene t must be demonstrated.
Every year, therefore, independent schools provide more than £350 million in free places and reduced fees to children from low-
income homes, while the 1,550 partnerships that independent and state schools enter into voluntarily and as equal partners, support 160,000 state sector students a year.
These partnerships include new free schools, and sharing of teachers, in particular in subjects where there is a shortage in state schools such as maths, physics and foreign languages, and of teaching, sport, drama, music and art facilities.
Clearly, if charitable status was removed, it would substantially impact the ability of independent schools to continue to provide the same scale of partnership work, let alone extend it, as they are keen to do. Indeed independent schools are currently in very constructive discussions with the Government to increase cross- sector partnership working and
bursaries even further, where state school leaders want it to happen.
Additionally, those independent schools with a smaller number of pupils which do rely on charitable status, may have to close, as Mr Gove says. They would then, as some former independent schools have done, join the state sector – bringing the £5,500-a-year cost per state school pupil on to the taxpayer.
As research from Oxford Economics in 2014 found, the saving to the taxpayer from the 500,000 pupils in Independent Schools Council schools not being in state education is worth £3 billion, while the tax revenues generated by these schools is £3.6 billion.
ISC schools additionally contribute £9.5 billion to the UK economy and the sector supports well over 200,000 jobs in the UK.
Withdrawal of VAT bene t has been calculated to increase fees by £300 pa per pupil. Research by Investec revealed that nearly 1 in 5 pupils have their fees part-paid by grandparents, while half of parents have to dip into savings to meet the charges. Personal income tax relief is not available on school fees, though some charitable-status schools offer discounts for long-term pre-payments as the schools can get off-setting tax breaks on the resultant investment income.
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