'Charge parents £500 a year to boost school funds' says former adviser

Former government adviser Sir Andrew Carter says schools should raise money to improve education by encouraging private sector involvement and calling on parents to donate £500 a year

Eleanor Busby

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Financial contributions from parents to state schools could be the answer to funding cuts, a former government adviser has suggested.

Sir Andrew Carter, chief executive of the South Farnham Educational Trust, suggested that schools should be allowed to ask for around £500 a year from parents to fund additional facilities, to bring them into line with those provided in independent schools. 

Allowing schools to attract private sector investment to make improvements would make it easier to ask for these donations, as parents could see they were getting something extra, he said.

Sir Andrew, who chaired a government-commissioned report into teacher training in 2014, added: “Remember this is a government searching for ways to fund a complicated system.”

Schools are expected to face cuts of up to 8 per cent over the next parliament, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). 

Speaking to the press after his speech to the Girls' Schools Association (GSA) annual conference in Oxford yesterday, Sir Andrew said:

"If you have a school that is demonstrably adding value wouldn’t it be nice to legitimately be able to say right at the beginning we charge £500 a year and the pupil premium child will have that paid for them and the others have to pay.

“What every child should get for the state funding should be a first rate high quality education. But there are added things.

"I hear the private sector telling me about its added things which it legitimately does very well and there is a charge that goes with it.”

Sir Andrew added that such schemes would be necessary because events such as Christmas fairs, or raffles “don’t raise anything like the amount of money that we properly need.”

If given more money, Sir Andrew added that in his own school he would like to increase the number of teachers, so that the class sizes of 34 could be reduced and workload improved for staff.

He added that schools were being prevented from raising substantial amounts of money and investing it in their schools because any surpluses were taken back off them.

He suggested that there could be greater use of private companies and sponsorship to improve schools and buy and run facilities such as gyms.

This sort of scheme has already been run at schools such as Durand Academy in south London, where substantial funds were raised for school 'extras' through a private leisure centre operating out of the site.

Sir Andrew said: “Why don’t we go to financial people and say build us a gym, put Robinson’s all over it , at the weekend and when we are not there make some money out of it?"

Speaking about the green paper's proposals for state schools and independent schools to work more closely, he said: "We are expected to respect the private sector and look to them in every respect, except their income. That is the bit that is left out of it."

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Eleanor Busby

Eleanor Busby is a reporter at TES 

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