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4th December 2018
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education brought to you by Education Advisers...
HMC leader warns independent sector: engage with state schools or be marginalised
It’s a “survival imperative” that independent schools must work with their state sector neighbours – or they will become “more and more marginalised and the sector will diminish.”
That’s the warning from Mike Buchanan, the executive director of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), a body which represents 350 independent schools, including Eton and Harrow.
Speaking at the Independent Schools Conference in central London yesterday, he said: “The challenge for us as independent schools is to share what we have - to get out there and help.
He added: “It’s not a nice thing - it’s a survival imperative that we must engage with other communities, and I know lots of schools do - my school did and still does. But if it doesn’t move up the priority list then actually we are not going to survive because we will become more and more marginalised.
"Some schools will survive - yes of course they will - but the general sector will diminish.”
Do independent schools need to justify their existence?
Principal of Dame Allan's Schools, Dr John R. Hind, makes the case for private education's benefit to society at large.
At a national level, the work done by associations like HMC (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) in raising issues surrounding the marking of public examinations and promoting children’s mental health has contributed much to the national conversation on educational matters.
Now the Independent Schools Council (ISC) has added to these arguments with its publication of a report on the economic benefits of independent schools, produced by Oxford Economics and RS Academics. Representing 1,317 schools - which cater for 525,000 pupils and employ over 147,000 teaching and non-teaching staff - ISC schools brought in £7.83 billion of income in 2017 (excluding trading, fundraising, and other financing activities), £1.78 billion of which was used to purchase goods and services from other organisations. The remaining £6.05 billion—comprising employment costs, capital costs, and a small net surplus — represents the ISC schools’ “direct” contribution to the nation’s GDP in 2017. It also generated annual tax revenues of £1.59 billion.
Beyond these direct benefits, ISC schools stimulated a further “indirect” contribution to GDP by the purchase of goods and services along their UK supply chain of £1.15 billion, which in turn supported 26,000 more jobs, and generated a further £270 million in tax revenues. Furthermore, the wage-funded expenditure of staff working both in the schools and along their UK supply chain is found to have supported £4.42 billion of “induced” GDP, 84,000 jobs, and £1.65 billion in tax revenues in 2017. In total, therefore, schools that are members of the ISC’s constituent associations contributed £11.63 billion to the UK economy in 2017, supporting some 257,000 jobs and £3.5 billion of annual tax revenues in the process (sufficient to fund the wages of around 108,000 nurses).
And, of course, the provision of independent education eases the burden on the state sector. Were all pupils in ISC schools suddenly to join state schools, the report estimates that the cost to the taxpayer would be £2.99 billion per annum, taking into account teaching and other recurrent costs, and capital costs associated with the use of land, construction of school buildings and property maintenance.
These are powerful figures: they make a clear case for the value of the independent sector. They are not, however, weapons to be deployed in a battle between maintained and independent sector provision. Rather, the significant contribution made by independent schools to the greater UK economy might help the sector to justify its existence and allow it to continue to play its vital part in the mixed economy of national education provision.
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