A series of amendments to the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill have been tabled by the Labour Party, which would ‘force’ independent schools to share facilities, help find work experience placements and assist with university . The intention is to help schools meet public benefit requirements and, according to Labour shadow charities minister Anna Turley, tackle inequality.
But would the new rules undermine existing partnerships? Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, has said the changes are unnecessary as over 90% of independents are already in partnerships with state schools.
Robin Fletcher, National Director of the Boarding Schools’ Association, says the plans are built on prejudice.
“These are half-baked proposals, built on prejudice against private schools and based on ignorance about the huge amount of brilliant partnership work that happens now,” he said.
‘Clearly someone has no idea that hundreds of independent schools already have extensive partnerships with local communities and state schools, often much broader than what is being put forward.
‘What about Holyport College near Windsor, a new state-funded day and boarding school established in partnership with Eton College in 2014?
‘What about Wellington Academy, a state-funded day and boarding school in Wiltshire set up in partnership with Wellington College?
‘Holyport and Wellington are fantastic examples of really meaningful partnership work between private and state schools happening now, and forcing action in very specific areas through law is the wrong approach.’
Chris King, Chair of HMC and Headmaster of Leicester Grammar School said there was no point forcing schools to ‘do something they are already doing.’
“The Labour Party is trying to solve an important educational problem with the wrong solution,’ he said. HMC fully supports moves to improve education for all pupils and that is why we have been delivering effective partnerships with state schools for decades.
‘Over 99% of HMC schools partner with state schools to do exactly the kinds of work Jeremy Corbyn is suggesting, and we would invite him to visit one of these projects and have a meaningful dialogue with us to better inform himself.
‘The most important thing is that they are effective, and this is achieved by ensuring they are locally relevant, flexible and desired by both parties. This will not be achieved by blanket, heavy handed legislation, which will in fact threaten many of the partnerships which already thrive across the UK.
‘Essentially, it is pointless to try and force independent schools to do something they are already doing.’