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10,000 free new independent school places

Joint funding means that new school places could be created every year

Posted by Lucinda Reid | December 13, 2016 | People, policy, politics

A new system of joint funding by independent schools and government could see 10,000 new school places created every year at no cost to parents.

The proposal by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) which represents 1,300 of the most successful schools in the country forms part of its response to the government's Schools that work for everyone green paper consultation that asks independent schools what they can do to ‘support more good school places and help children of all backgrounds to succeed.’

ISC Chairman Barnaby Lenon, said: "In its green paper the government recognised the great strength and success of independent schools and asked what more we could do on top of the contribution our schools already make.  The proposals we are putting forward go considerably further than some of the ideas the green paper suggested and by helping create more good school places, both in state and independent schools, we would be helping to expand real social mobility in this country."

Three key proposals are being made:

1. The creation of up to 10,000 free places in independent schools, every year, for families who would not be able to afford fees

This jointly-funded proposal would see government contributing no more than the cost of a state school place to educate children in existing independent schools. The places would be available across age groups and schools and there would be a range of assessment criteria. The plan is designed to meet the government goal of more good school places and would target children from families with lower income.

2. Independent schools to help set up new state schools to create more good state school places

This proposal would see independent schools use their strengths and expertise to work with ministers, regional schools commissioners and others in putting together consortia of suitable and willing independent schools to help co-sponsor new state-funded schools. These would be in partnership with a state school or Multi-Academy Trust lead, could focus on one or more of the six DfE-identified opportunity areas ('cold spots') and could provide thousands of new school places across areas of greatest need.

3. Growth of existing relationships and mutually beneficial collaborative work between independent and state schools

This proposal would see a further expansion of the teaching, coaching, university and careers advice, educational events and facilities already provided to an estimated 160,000 state school pupils from a variety of backgrounds through Independent/State School Partnerships (ISSPs). Collaborative partnership work has been taking place between state and independent schools for decades and targets specific, local needs.

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