68% think parents should be able to pay for their children’s education

A new survey shows voters, including previous Labour supporters, want the choice to send their children to independent schools

A new survey by ComRes* has revealed two thirds (68%) of the public think parents should be able to pay for their children’s education if they can afford it, with only one in five (18%) disagreeing.

The findings of the survey will be revealed to nearly 300 independent school heads later today at the HMC (Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) Autumn Conference by the organisation’s chair, Fiona Boulton, who is also head of Guildford High School.

Over half (56%) of Labour voters agree parents should be able to pay for their children’s education, as well as 83% of Conservative voters and 70% of Liberal Democrats voters.

Nearly half (49%) support a government policy to help pay for children from lower income backgrounds to attend independent schools.

35% trust government and local councils to run schools effectively, while 41% distrust them.

Educators, not politicians, should be in charge of schools, is the message from voters – and so say all of us

The findings come as Labour policy passed at the party’s conference to seize land and assets from independent schools and “integrate” them into the state sector. This process would start by removing charitable status from the schools and charging multiple taxes.

Boulton said: “Voters want the government to help more children to get access to independent schools. Parents are ambitious for their children and people want to see our schools opening up, not closing down.

“Educators, not politicians, should be in charge of schools, is the message from voters – and so say all of us.

“It is encouraging that this poll shows such high levels of support for such a collaborative, positive measure – including amongst Labour voters.”

HMC chair and Guildford High School head Fiona Boulton said the survey was “encouraging”

Mike Buchanan, executive director of HMC, said: “This survey reveals a remarkable gulf between the Labour party’s official policy to abolish or punitively tax independent schools and the views of those who voted Labour just two years ago.

“It also underlines the public belief that parents should be free to make choices for their children, including paying for their child’s education rather than asking the state to do so.”


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*2,016 adults in Great Britain were interviewed online between 6-8 September 2019. The voting decisions of respondents in the 2017 general election were captured.