Is banning private schools a workable solution?(287 Posts)
Whenever the conversation turns to bias in favour of privately educated people there are always voices that shouts out - ban private schools!
Is this a badly thought out knee jerk reaction or am I missing something?
IMO if private schools were to be banned the following would happen.
a) the rich would educate their kids abroad. Aged 18 those kids will be back to grab those coveted uni places and, on graduating, the top jobs. So no change there.
b) some will choose to buy up the properties around the highly regarded state schools. Thus driving up prices and nudging aside your untutored DC which is what is happening in parts of London
c) Some will take the fees saved and hire tutors in order to give their dcs an advantage.
d) x thousands of kids will rejoin the state system thus busting an already over stretched system. Tax increases for everybody to pay for the extra resources and if you thought that it was hard getting into your over subscribed comp at the moment ......
As I said above, is banning private schools a badly thought out solution or am I missing something?
If private schools were banned, then more people than just those privately educating would leave the country full stop as it would mean we were not living in a free society anymore.
What exactly would be banned? Any education not provided by the state? Would the law be applied to the provider of education (making it illegal to offer to educate outside a state system) , or to those attempting to pay for tuition?
I do not see how you could legislate for all education to be provided by the state in a manner which is compatible with basic liberties or indeed our obligations under the ECHR. What some people argue for in the alternative is the removal of charitable status, which has certain tax consequences. It would have certain other consequences too, of course, many of them unintended.
Why would you ban private education?
What else would you ban?
What is good about a totalitarian society?
Remove charitable tax status, tax it as a perk when companies pay for it and make children of armed forces go to state boarding schools rather than private. Fees would have to go up which would stop many middle class families who can only just afford fees using them. this would make many schools uneconomic as numbers drop and many would close. It would become more socially acceptable to send kids to state school as choice became restricted.
Another problem is that those who say they want to ban private schools tend to back pedal when confronted with the consequences of their "logic". So when you tell them that making it compulsory for all children to be educated in state provision would mean that this place, for example would have to close:
they wibble frantically and say no, no, we don;t mean those places. What they actually mean is that the prviate schools attended by people they don;t like should close. And you can't draft law on that basis.
To be honest the charitable status exemption is a bit of a red herring - some private schools are stuck with charitable status simply because once you are set up as a charitable trust (pretty much the only legal structure which was open to the first schools in the country) it is practically impossible to shake off your charitable status. And school fees are already taxed as a perk when they are provided by an employer.
Anyway usually the voices that shout out "ban private schools" are ignored because they haven't really thought through the issues that well.
You cannot just "remove" charitable status. There is both law and regulation concerning what must happen if a charity is to close. Essentially, the charitable assets must be sold off (land, buildings, equipment) and proceeds given to another charity of similar aims. So it would mean closure, and great expense to th state sector.
Even if it could be just removed, it would make no real difference to the fees (a VAT exempt item, like university fees). Most schools consider the charitable status makes little difference to their finances, and would probably gladly shed it if there were a legal means to do so without closure.
No-people need choice and if they choose to spend their money on education that is up to them.
I know some MNers would love to ban Private Education.
I'm not one of them.
I would home ed my kids instead. Will you also be banning private health insurance in this great plan? .... Sadly I won't be able to self diagnose....
I must confess to posting quickly while cooking, that's interesting to know EdithW.
I don't think they should be banned but I do think they should be restricted in some ways, a drop in numbers of pupils by a few percent would make a difference I think.
No is the answer
a labour government looked into it in the 50s and decided it wasn't possible to do it without also getting rid of e.g. schools for the blind.
Why discuss it? Well, I was hoping that someone who favours banning private schools would come on here and explain to me the logic behind the 'solution'.
There is no significant public pressure to get rid of private schools but if the politicians were so inclined they could, as mentioned up thread, remove the charity status and do other stuff to make the cost prohibitive.
My reasoning for this is that I have noticed a big difference between Scotland ,with around 4% (with the exception of Edinburgh), and England with around 7% (more at sixth form).
There are about 600,000 privately educated children in the UK. A conservative estimate for the per capita state school funding is £5,000. So the cost of funding the additional pupils is about £3bn per year. Typically you see the figure of 7% of children are privately educated. I think it may be a struggle to fund these additional state school places.
I just read the posts about the difficulty involved in actually removing the charity status. That is good to hear (a small part of me thought that it might happen)
As life in general becomes more expensive and grandparents can no longer afford to help fund grandchildren's school fees (or babysit, since they'll be working themselves into their 70s and looking after their own decrepit parents), the percentage of children being privately educated will probably go down, anyway - leaving private education for the 1% instead of the 7%... I doubt state education will improve at the same time, though, because nobody likes paying for what they receive from the state, whether in tax or by any other means...
I think it's a good idea. I don't see why private schools couldn't be made into state schools, especially now there are so many different forms of state school. They could all be turned into academies tomorrow All they would have to do is stop discriminating against those whose parents can't pay. In combination with keeping great existing state schools great and improving rubbish state schools this would be a fab move. I would like to see schools that offer education only to those who can pay outlawed under equality legislation. Bring it on!
Also, as Free Schools (that set their own curriculum, opening hours, term dates etc) now exist, what would stop the parents of pupils at these former fee-paying schools banding together, getting funding for a Free School, hiring back the same staff, and enjoying their school that is essentially the same but now funded by the tax-payer in full?
I agree with those who have said that you can't easily remove charitible status.
When a charity is wound up, its assets have to be sold. Most independent schools' assets are restricted covenants - they can't be sold for anything other than education. It's a catch-22.
Typically, independent schools spend more than 20% of income on charitible activities, which they would happily shed if they have to.
There are a number of categories of charitible activities, of which providing education is one. If you remove education from the list, would you keep everything else, such as rescuing kittens or preserving Morris dancing?
Is it right to ignore our country's heritage and the part "public" schools have played? (extend that argument to C of E schools while we are at it).
Above all, I would ask those who want to ban private education why they would want to ban something that is good and for which there is ample demand for hard-working, tax-paying, citizens of this great land.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.