• Wednesday, June 12, 2024


Private school parents scramble for places in state schools

Labour leader Keir Starmer has confirmed that the VAT exemption currently enjoyed by private schools would be removed if his party comes to power

Picture for representation (iStock)

By: Shajil Kumar

Labour party leader Sir Keir Starmer’s proposal to restore VAT on private schools has sparked concern among parents as it could result in a 20 per cent hike in fees.

This is expected to trigger a pupil exodus from private to state schools.

But many of the parents looking to admit their children to state schools are being told that only limited slots are available, The Telegraph reports.

Starmer had recently confirmed that the VAT exemption currently enjoyed by private schools would be removed on ‘day one’ if his party comes to power.

Labour party aims to redirect this financial advantage to improve the quality of state education.

One parent told the daily that when she contacted her local council in Newcastle about the possibility of moving her child from private to state education, she was told that secondary schools are so oversubscribed that students are on a waiting list.

Many other councils, including Cambridgeshire, Wokingham and Leeds, have issued similar warnings.

Headteachers in some private schools claim that some parents have already started pulling their children out or cancelling places at fee-paying schools.

Parents’ concerns

Education Not Taxation, a grassroots campaign group, said that parents are now worried that children may be left without a school to attend in September.

Group spokesperson Loveena Tandon said the plans were “not only disruptive” but “unfair” and would ruin the future of young people.

The group has called for a consultation on the plans if Labour wins the election, amid growing pressure on the party to re-think the pledge.

Starmer recently said that he understood and respected the concerns of parents who have sent their children to private schools, but the party has to make difficult choices.

Julie Robinson, the chief executive of the Independent Schools Council has urged the Labour party to carry out an impact assessment before implementing the hike.

She pointed out that the Labour party has not yet provided details or timelines for the policy. “Schools and parents alike cannot adequately plan based on headlines,” she added.

Robinson said that 100,000 students with special educational needs are currently in private schools and they should be protected from the taxes.

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