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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 9:23 am 
This website has a survey on abolishing grammars. How about one on abolishing charitable status for the private schools? That would alter the dynamics of our education system overnight and go a long way towards a fairer system.

After all, how many other "charities" are there that exist to provide a lifelong advantage for the children of the wealthy? If those who can pay want private schools, that's fine, but they should not be subsidized by the state. And as for opening up their playing fields and other facilities to a few local schools on a Saturday in order to justify their status, that seems risible to me. All it did for my child was to bring home in a very real way the massive gulf between his school and the private school providing this "service" to the community - something he had not been aware of before.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 1:33 pm 
Hi Camilla,

I'm at a loss to understand your logic that abolishing the Chariable Status of private schools would go a long way towards making the system fairer?

My daugther goes to the B/Ham KE Independent school in Edgbaston. Although she also passed the 11+ exams for the free KE Grammars, we decided to send her to the independent school because we felt it was the right school for her.

We are not wealthy, in fact we struggle to pay the school fees and have to make significant sacrifices as a family to allow our daugther to attend the school, but that was out choice. We are not eligle for bursaries from the school as we are always just outside the range. There are a number of ordinary families like us who have chosen to do the same.

If the schools Charitable Status was abolished then all that would do would be to force families like ours back into the public sector and make Grammar and Comprehensive places in B/Ham even more competitive. How is that fairer?

There are literally thousands of registered Charities in the UK, many of which I do not support, however withdrawing Chariable funding from all Charities unless a majority of UK residents approve or vote for them is not going to help.

Now if you were to advocate voting for a fairer entry system into Universities from all Secondary schools based on ability then that's something I would be prepared to support - but that's another debate

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 2:50 pm 
I appreciate that lots of people struggle to pay school fees and "wealthy" is a relative term. But the vast majority cannot pay, with or without struggling. Try to explain to anyone abroad how private schools who provide the best education, but only for those who can pay (give or take the odd bursary)can constitute a charity and I'm sure you'll find them baffled.

Leaving private schools to the super rich would strip them of much of their very able intake (no doubt like your child). Those children would then no doubt be "forced" back into the state system (as most people already are) and this would have a tremendous impact on standards in the state system, not only because of the large number of able kids pitching up in state schools, but also by the parental support and pressure those families are likely to provide in their schools to demand that high standards are achieved. Why is that so unfair? I'm not suggesting private schools be abolished, merely that state funding and subsidies (in whatever form) be directed to the state system.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 4:29 pm 
I think the problem with your argument is whether charitable status constitutes state funding or a subsidy. In practice it's only a tax break that available to any not for profit organisation that qualifies as a charity. No different to the tax breaks that the mega rich get for buying and planting forests in the highlands for example.

The government is not allowed to select which organisations it thinks should be allowed chariable status on a case by case basis, it can only do that by changing the law via the charities bill. The Charity Commission decides on a day by day basis, whether organisation qualify under the bill.

There many hundreds of undeserving organisations that are able to claim charitable status (and tax breaks) by registering as a charity. Equally there are many worthwhile humanitarian organisations (such as Amnesty International) which are prohibited under the Charities Bill from claiming Charitable status. I guess that just the unfairness of the tax system.

If you did change the Charities Bill and followed your route it would just create chaos. The amount of money saved would be insignificant compared to the extra cost the government would have to pay out for the pupils switching.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:22 pm 

Joined: Mon Dec 05, 2005 3:01 pm
Posts: 250
Location: Richmond
Well said, KEHS parent. The fact is that state education is not 'free' - taxpayers pay for it through their taxes! The government does not have any money - it is our money. If children were forced back into the state sector (the great levelling-down that the is government strives for for all but hteir own children) the cost of the extra education will be paid for all of us in our taxes. So what else would you cut to pay for it?
The argument that standards would rise because parent would insist on it is spurious - it would simply cuase greater pressure on leafy 'nice' schools, so the poorest would be even more ghettoised into ever worse schools.

Best Regards,

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 12:40 pm 
let's face it Thea and KEHS - it's not because it's fairer as it is, or more cost effective..... it's just that private schools provide advantages and people will fight to keep their privileges. Don't dress it up as anything else.

PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 1:53 pm 

Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 3:07 pm
Posts: 1149
Location: Finchley - Barnet
Dear All,

I find all this discussion of private versus state schools very enternaining, albeit a bit surreal, at least from the point of view of someone coming from South Europe. Having a look at the URL pages of the DfES national statistics published this week, I think that the single most interesting statistic among them all is the percentage of pupils attaining a Level 5 at KS2 in independent schools (now this is very confusing because I am not sure whether this means private schools only, which you English also call public schools! It is all very strange and confusing for a foreigner!) as compared to mainstream schools. It is 50% as compared to 25% for boys (and something even more shocking for girls..) Obviously these schools are doing something right to the kids of these filthy rich?!

As for being expensive, the answer is obvious: of course they are because they are very few in number! There are huge barriers to entry in opening a new private school. Hence it is unsuprising that a recent enguiry by the Office of Fair Trading (or the CC, not sure) found that many famous names were actually price fixing their fees (very easy to coordinate price behaviour if they are only a few).

It migh be interesting to know that in many other European countries the majority of kids do go to private schools as they are generally affordable because they are many. Tellingly, the most expensive school in Greece is the Athens-based English school for the children of expatriates (which in any case charges exactly half what private schools in average charge here!).

Hence the answer is more rather that fewer private schools; then you sit back and enjoy the prices rolling downhill towards cost. According to private schools themselves the cost of educating a secondary school pupil is around £6,000 per student per year; however I am sure that cost efficiencies will also be " discovered" once the pressure of competition is on.

As for the charitable status this is just a tax break, that most countries do have on. There is no reason to feel preverse about having it, neither is there any reason to suffer from this very uniquely English class guilt if you do happen to send your kids to a private school. The bitter reality is that the only wrong thing with being rich is not being rich yourself. I personally find myself very angry with all these people that dare to be richer than myself. How dare they!!!

Have a nice weekend,


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 2:42 pm 
I am reminded of an excellent TV documentary called 7 up (later 14 up, 21 up and so on) which tried to look at the issue of class and education in Britain and followed the lives of a cross section of children aged 7 in 1964 and followed their progress every seven years and which ended only a few years ago. Anyone old enough to remember it?

One charming little 7 year old prep school boy who was filmed in class singing Waltzing Matilda in Latin, had this to say of private schools: "Of course you should pay for private schools, otherwise all the poor people would come rushing in". Bless him.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:20 pm 
Hi Old Person

Just to say, Seven Up turned into Fourteen Up etc. The last one was Forty Nine Up in September 2005, hopefully they will find enough of the orginal cast to do another, I thought it was great tv.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2006 4:34 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 29, 2006 10:05 am
Posts: 445
Location: LONDON
The bitter reality is that the only wrong thing with being rich is not being rich yourself. I personally find myself very angry with all these people that dare to be richer than myself. How dare they!!!

lol (to use my sons texting speak). Thats the most honest thing I've heard all day. How very dare they!

A Poor person!

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