Private schools could lose tax breaks under Labour

Richard Vaughan

Independent schools will lose hundreds of millions of pounds in tax breaks unless they work more closely with the state sector under a Labour government, the party's education spokesman has warned. 

In a keynote speech today, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt will tell private schools in England they will lose business rates relief - worth an estimated £700 million over the course of a parliament - unless they are prepared to meet minimum standards of partnership with their state counterparts.

He will say that a Labour government will legislate to ensure the schools only qualify for this "subsidy" if they pass a new "schools partnership standard".

Under this system, private schools would be required to provide teachers in specialist subjects to state schools, and to share expertise to help state school pupils get into top universities.

They will also have to run joint extra-curricular programmes with state schools as equal partners so that children from the state and private sectors mix together and learn from each other.

Mr Hunt, who was himself privately educated, will point to figures showing that just 3 per cent of private schools sponsor an academy, while a further 5 per cent loan teaching staff to state schools, and a third share facilities.

"The only possible answer to whether they earn their £700 million subsidy is a resounding and unequivocal 'no'," he will say.

"Over the last few years we have seen the limitations of asking private schools politely. So the next government will say to them 'Step up and play your part. Earn your keep. Because the time you could expect something for nothing is over'.

"I realise that to some this may seem an unnecessarily tough test. But that is not because I want to penalise private education but because I want to make sure we break down the barriers holding Britain back."

Related stories: 

Ministers must not turn to independents to "solve state schools' problems" - 6 October 2013

Private school teachers' workload increases as fees rise - 8 November 2014 

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Richard Vaughan

Richard has been writing about politics, policy and technology in education for nearly five years after joining TES in 2008. He joined TES from the building press having been a reporter and then later news editor at the Architects’ Journal. Before then he studied at Cardiff University’s school of journalism. Richard can be found tweeting at @richardvaughan1

Find me on Twitter @RichardVaughan1

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