My reply to David Milibands question – Should we remove charitable status from private schools
If the decision were mine alone then I would make it illegal to charge for education completely, thus removing private schools in their present form.
The charitable tax break is worth about £100 million to the private system (less if you listen to the private schools themselves) whereas the cost of bringing the students currently at private school into the maintained system (assuming they were funded on the per student basis as current students) would be around £3.1 billion (in current spending, not to mention the capital spend that may be necessary to accommodate the students).
Many maintained schools do benefit from relationships with the private sector, but this is not the real point. The real point is this. Private schools are not going away. Even in areas where the maintained schools are better in every way than the local private school (and there are many such areas), they thrive. Some parents will pay £10,000 a year to get a worse education for their children. And no-one is realistically suggesting that any changes to the legal framework will be made that abolish them.
Removing charitable status is not going to stop private education. It will make it around £150 (or 1.5%) per child per annum more expensive. Not sure what effect that is going to have other than to take £100m out of the general economy and, because the charitable status bargaining chip is gone, further reduce the linkage between private and mainstream sectors.
So, the removal of charitable status is not policy, it’s positioning. It will not positively affect students in maintained schools. It is a distraction from doing the things that will make a positive difference. Concentrate on those, have a positive vision for education.