Schools minister Nick Gibb has stated his opposition to plans by an alliance of state schools who are calling for a change in visa laws so they can recruit sixth-formers from China.
Around a dozen schools, including grammar schools, plan to generate hundreds of thousands of pounds through the scheme, which could earn around £4,000 per pupil per year.
But Mr Gibb criticised the plans, as reported in the Times, when he said in a tweet on Boxing Day that grammar schools should be increasing the number of poorer pupils they teach – “not children of the rich in China”.
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He said that less than 10.7 per cent of pupils at grammar schools were on free school meals, compared with the national average of 27.7 per cent.
The tweet attracted hundreds of likes and around 90 comments, including from Desmond Deehan, a leader of the alliance, who is headteacher of Townley Grammar School, where plans are in the pipeline to bring over Chinese sixth-formers for three-month “A-level taster” stints.
He pointed out to Mr Gibb that the alliance was not just made up of grammar schools and that steps were being to taken to increase the number of poorer pupils, and that pupil premium is the highest over-subscription criteria. He added: “Happy to better inform you.”
.@Thetimes reports some grammar schools asking to recruit pupils from China. No! They should be increasing the number of poorer pupils they teach, not children of the rich in China. Between 2.7% & 10.7% of pupils at these schools are on free school meals.The nat average is 27.7%— Nick Gibb (@NickGibbUK) December 26, 2019
The scheme was first reported in October when it was said the extra cash would be used to help fund more teachers, while students would be coached into getting into British universities, including Oxford and Cambridge.
Meanwhile, Mr Deehan has signed a memorandum of understanding with Jiangsu province – the first of its kind – and the alliance is now set to lobby the government to change visa laws that ban them from recruiting overseas, unlike private schools and further education colleges.
We are doing that too Mr Gibb! And as the article states this is not just Grammar schools. You should see how well funded Chinese state schools are. Happy to better inform you.— CEOHead (@CEOOdyssey) December 26, 2019
Changes to visa legislation would permit state schools to educate teenagers for one or two years of the sixth form, and gain around £4,000 per year per pupil.
Discussions are underway with the Department for Education and it is hoped that officials will put pressure on the Home Office to relax the restrictions.
A Home Office spokesman said: “As a matter of longstanding policy, state schools are not able to recruit or sponsor international students. This is because state schools are funded by the taxpayer for the purpose of educating those in the UK with a statutory right to education.”
Other schools in the alliance include Devonport High School for Boys in Plymouth, Clitheroe Royal Grammar School in Lancashire, Rugby High School in Warwickshire and Ripon Grammar School in North Yorkshire.