Independents already help the state sector

19th December 1997 at 00:00
Perhaps Mike Baker, as the BBC's education correspondent, will carry out more research into his thesis that "independents should offer more" (TES, December 5).

He would then find that most independent schools are significantly involved in co-operative ventures with their local communities. A survey carried out by the Independent Schools Information Service, to be published in the New Year, contains many examples. For instance, many pupils from independent schools have for some years been helping in local primary schools and schools for the disabled.

The suggestion that most independent schools will find it easy to replace a third of the pupils on assisted places, soon to be abolished, shows a lack of understanding of schools' finances. In most schools, 95 per cent of all income comes from fees. It is clearly unreasonable to expect parents, who are already paying taxes and fees, to pay more than a small amount to fund bursaries. While historically there has been some link between helping "poor scholars" and the education provided by the schools, it is the latter function which is central to the charitable function.

I applaud the emphasis on two sides to partnerships. Just as each sector can learn from the other, so the costs of joint projects must be shared. It is for just such reasons that all heads in membership of Headmasters' Conference and Girls' Schools Association are also members of the Secondary Heads Association, and both independent school associations elect members from the maintained sector.

VS ANTHONY

Secretary The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference 130 Regent Road Leicester

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