Tax relief granted to 586 out of 1,038 private schools, including Eton College and Dulwich College
Private schools are set to get tax rebates totalling £522m over the next five years as a result of their controversial status as charities, according to a study of local council records.
Charitable organisations in England and Wales are entitled to relief of 80% on the business rates payable on the buildings they use, and some of the country’s best-known private schools qualify under the rules.
Business rates firm CVS sent freedom of information requests to councils, and responses from 132 showed that 586 out 1,038 private schools held charitable status and were granted the mandatory relief.
Its analysis of government data suggested that on 2,707 properties classified as private schools there would be a business rates bill of around £1.16bn over the next five years. Extrapolating from the data received from councils, it forecast that £634m would be paid, with £522m saved through the schools’ charitable status.
CVS said Eton College, whose former pupils include David Cameron and Boris Johnson, would have faced a bill of £4.1m for business rates over the next five years without its charitable status, but instead it would pay just £821,040.
Dulwich College in south London, which educated former Ukip Leader Nigel Farage, will only pay £786,752 out of its £3,933,760 five-year bill under the tax regime.
Leeds grammar school, which offers extensive sports facilities on a campus of nearly 60 hectares (140 acres), will only pay £826,016 out of its £4,130,080 five-year bill.
Business rates have come under fire since an overhaul resulted in huge rises for schools and hospitals along with businesses in London and the south-east. The government promised £300m to ease through the reforms, but refused to alter the status of public sector organisations or review the charitable status of private schools.
The Department for Communities and Local Government said private schools seeking charitable status “must meet a robust public benefit test”. It also said academies, foundation schools and voluntary-aided schools automatically qualified for charitable status, while insisting that state-school funding accounted for the cost of business rates.
In the run-up to the election, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn announced plans to charge VAT on private school fees to fund free school meals for primary school children.
Paul WaughExecutive Editor, Politics, HuffingtonPost UK
Tory education cuts are forcing parents to turn to crowdfunding websites to help pay for school basics from whiteboards and computers to playgrounds and lollipop ladies.
HuffPost UK has been sent scores of examples of cash-strapped schools where deep reductions in their funding have left teachers and parents resorting to online appeals for donations.
The desperate measures emerged as the National Union of Teachers (NUT) revealed that an updated website – schoolcuts.org.uk – detailing school budget cuts across the country has now had a million visits.
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And think tanks have warned that the cash crisis triggered by the Government’s new school funding formula will continue even if the Conservatives return to power and inject £4bn more for education.
According to the National Audit Office, schools were already facing cuts of 8% in real terms – or £3bn – by 2019-20. The new funding formula means that around 9,000 of them face further cuts in a squeeze not seen since the 1970s.
Schools across the country are having to ration essential items like lined writing paper, photocopier paper, glue sticks and even pencils. Pupils have been asked to help vacuum their classrooms because their school can’t afford to replace a cleaner.
Parent-teacher associations have spent years raising money for ‘extras’ for schools, but a rash of new Justgiving.com appeals reveals that crowdfunding is now being used for items normally considered ‘core’ budget services.
Following letters from headteachers appealing for help, parents have set up crowdfunding pages either with pleas for cash or sponsored bike rides, long-distance walks, assault courses, triathlons and other sporting events.
One private company that makes school lockers is actually encouraging parents to set up charity pages to raise the cash to buy basic equipment, HuffPost can reveal.
And a union source revealed that in one school the cuts are so severe that teaching assistants have been asked to buy staff toilet rolls.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has revealed examples of cuts include teaching assistants being told they have one roll of sellotape per class per year, only two glue sticks for every 60 children, and whiteboard pen shortages.
Camelsdale Primary School in Sussex set up a ‘crowfunded.co.uk’ page to raise £3,000 for a replacement classroom whiteboard, as it has five ‘fast-failing’ screens that are leaving pupils without the chance to share learning.
Its website declared: “This is an all-or-nothing campaign. To receive any donations, we have to reach our minimum target! Of course, if we exceed our £3000 target, any additional funds will go directly into the ‘Clevertouch for Camelsdale’ pot. Ultimately, we need to replace 5 whiteboards!”
Gattons Infant School, also in Sussex, set up a ‘gofundme.com’ page for whiteboards too.
“We have been deeply affected by Government cuts and, as a result, we are only just managing to finance the bare minimum in our attempts to continue to provide the children with the rich and exciting curriculum that we do,” assistant headteacher Ellie Bennett wrote.
“Currently our classes all have very old, outdated interactive whiteboards which our teachers use to deliver the curriculum to the children every day.
“The condition of the screens on our current whiteboards is unacceptable and they are no longer of good enough quality for our children. Work and presentations are becoming increasingly difficult to see.”
LOLLIPOP LADY PLEA
Denton Community Primary School in East Sussex is trying to raise £1,500 to pay for a part-time ‘lollipop lady’ Maureen Hood.
The 67-year-old’s salary was axed by East Sussex County Council, but so far just £550 has been raised from the charitable effort.
“With the increasing number of children attending the school, this results in an increase in traffic around the area,” the Justgiving.com website says.
“We would very much like to continue to offer this vital service for the community, ensuring the safety of our children, parents, visitors and the wider community.”
Some private firms have spotted an opportunity amid the cutbacks.
School equipment firm Workplace Products declares on its website: “Have you heard of crowdfunding? Crowdfunding is a way of raising finance by asking a large number of people each for a small amount of money.
“For example if you posted a letter to the parents of 400 pupils asking for £1 to improve changing room facilities, you could potentially get £400 towards those upgrades.
“You just have to open your mind to the possibilities. What about starting a JustGiving page and coupling it with a sports day? You could even show parents around your current facilities and explain your upgrade plans during parents’ evenings.”
The schoolcuts.org.uk website, a project backed by schools unions the NUT, NAHT, ATL, and GMB, forecasts that 93% of schools will have their funding cut by 2022.
Using analysis by the independent Institute of Fiscal Studies of each of the three main parties’ plans for education funding, it concludes that the average loss in spending per pupil will be £338 in primaries and £436 in secondaries under the Tories.
By keying in your postcode, you can find out precisely how much money your school will lose, and the possible impact on teaching jobs.
Rising inflation, extra costs and pupil numbers will combine to force heads to cut spending. Some are deciding not to renew equipment, some are not replacing teachers or teaching assistants and other staff.
Daubeney Primary School in Hackney, East London, is another where a parent has set up a fundraising page in desperation. Its target of £5,000 has yet to receive a penny of donations.
Nadia Malone, of the school’s Parents’ Association, said: “Our schools are facing a funding crisis as a result of government cuts. Schools in Hackney are projected to be hit by £25,805,843 of cuts by 2019. At Daubeney School this means a projected loss of £785 per pupil or the equivalent of 12 fewer teachers.”
Stanley Primary School in Teddington, West London, has a page asking for £10,000 to help with basics. Theresa May last week staged an event a few yards away in another school, as part of her attempt to stop Liberal Democrat Sir Vince Cable from ousting local Tory Tania Matthias.
BOOKS AND IPADS
Woore Primary in Crewe is aiming to raise £500 to help refurbish the school library and to provide children with new technology.
On its JustGiving page it states: “With government changes to school funding coming into force, we are needing to raise more money than ever before to help the school deliver the best educational experience possible for every single child.
“Funds raised on this page, and from external fundraising events such as socials and the annual fete will be used towards buying new educational resources and in the refurbishment of the school library, as well as buying modern tablets to enhance learning experiences for the children of the school.”
RUNNING, BOXING AND CYCLING
One mum at Harborne Primary in Birmingham is getting into a boxing ring in a bid to raise £1,000 for her son and his fellow pupils.
Vanita Joshi Sandhu said: “I would like to raise as much money to help them with this ongoing challenge. My son attends the school along with many other children, I would like to contribute to my sons future as well as all the other children who attend the school.
“I intend to do this by getting into a boxing ring. Everyone who knows me will agree this is completely out of my comfort zone and a real life challenge for me. Every time I feel like throwing in the towel I have to remind myself why I started.”
Dave Shaw, headteacher at Spire Junior School in Chesterfield, is taking part in the Great North Run to raise £5,000 to meet a funding shortfall.
“We have 70% of our children on free school meals and are situated in an area of high socio-economic deprivation. Due to funding cuts, and increases in costs we’re finding it increasingly difficult to run the school without running into a deficit.
“Under the new funding formula we will lose £17,000 of our budget and by 2020 the forecast is a loss of £99,000. I’ve had to lose one teacher and one teaching assistant, my deputy is now needed to teach full time, and I’m teaching part time, to save money.
“As we are not a charity this page has been set up as a crowdfunding opportunity. “
Parents and governors at Kew Riverside Primary School, West London, recently took part in a sponsored 255km cycle from Kew to Bruges in Belgium to raise £10,000.
Norbury Primary School in Shropshire is trying to raise £20,000, partly through children taking part in a 53km mountain bike challenge.
“In light of the ongoing funding cuts to education and closure of so many rural schools, our children want to ensure that their school is able to continue and thrive for years to come,” it states on its JustGiving.com page.
ON THE ELECTION RADAR
Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner told us: “Years of Tory cuts have left schools unable to cope, with buildings crumbling, teachers leaving and children being taught in super-sized classes.
“There is a clear choice at this election, between the Tories who will continue to starve our schools of the money they need, or a Labour party that will invest in education for the many, not just the privileged few.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, told HuffPost UK: “Schools asking parents for donations for extras is nothing new.
“But it’s clear now that more and more schools are asking parents to contribute towards things that are normally associated with a school’s core business.
“In the case of the lollipop lady, that’s also a reflection of how cuts to other services are impacting on school budgets. And that’s a concern because school budgets are themselves at breaking point.
“Thanks to pressure from parents and schools, funding is on the general election radar and there’s cross party recognition of that. The amount of funding is insufficient and needs to rise and that’s not a moment too soon.
“Our own research among our members shows that 7 out of 10 school leaders predict that their budgets will be untenable the 2018/19 academic year. Any party that wants to form the next government needs to fund education fully and fairly.”
Karen Leonard, GMB National Officer, added: “The idea of parents having to crowdfund just so their kids school has basic resources is absolutely appalling.
“It’s not just teachers and pupils who will lose out – our support staff members, schools’ forgotten army, are often seen as ‘soft targets’.”
A Conservative party spokesman said: “Under our manifesto proposals no school will have their budget cut as a result of a fair funding formula. What’s more, we are increasing the overall schools budget, currently at record levels, by £4 billion by 2022 – a real terms rise for every year of the Parliament.
“Only Theresa May can provide the leadership to get the right Brexit deal and secure a brighter future for our country – so we protect the economy, and are able to properly fund our schools and give our children the best possible start in life.”
Many academics and employers have argued that education and skills funding are all the more important as the UK heads for Brexit in 2019.
In a HuffPost UK-Edelman focus group in Slough, one teaching assistant Sam underlined how school cuts were biting. “We’re scrambling around for paper, everyday resources are not there. You can see cuts across everything.”
HuffPost UK is looking at voters’ priorities outside the hubbub of the election campaign trail and what they want beyond March 29, 2019, not just June 8, 2017. Beyond Brexit leaves the bubble of Westminster and London talk to Britons left out of the conversation on the subjects they really care about, like housing, integration, social care, school funding and air quality.
Review of parental involvement legislation praises work to engage parents in the children’s education but the SPTC warns a ‘significant re-think’ needed
Parent’s night – Flickr creative commons
Moves to engage parents in their children’s education have been largely successful but need to go further, a post-legislative review by the National Parent Forum of Scotland (NPFS) has concluded.
A new report into the impact of the Scottish Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 2006 contains a number of recommendations for government.
These include more opportunities for parents and staff to work together, more flexibility at work for parents to attend school events and an extension of the requirements to cover the early years.
“Parental involvement in a child’s learning has positive outcomes for the child, their family and their school, and helps to raise attainment,” the report said.
NPFS chair Joanna Murphy said: “The National Parent Forum of Scotland hopes that this review will allow all of us to move forward together, and continue to keep parents at the heart of their child’s learning.
“I will continue to strive for a political and legislative environment which champions the voice of parents.”
Education Secretary John Swinney welcomed the report and said its findings would feed into his review of school governance, which will report next month.
“We want to see a focus on how our education system is supporting parents to help their child’s learning at home, from the early years and throughout school; to overcome the obstacles they face and understand the powerful difference they can make,” he said.
Neil Mathers, Save the Children’s head of Scotland, said the report “allowed us to celebrate the really positive efforts schools and nurseries have taken over the last ten years to help parents to support their children’s learning.”
However, membership organisation the Scottish Parent Teacher Council said the ambitions of the original act were “not yet delivered comprehensively”.
Director Jeanna Brady said: “While family engagement is probably one of the most significant levers available to teachers to impact on achievement and attainment of young people, our school system can only leverage this impact by adopting an approach which is all about working with families and builds engagement into school improvement.
“That requires a significant re-think across the system from teacher education and leadership development, parental engagement strategies and partnerships within and beyond school boundaries.
She added: “While parents generally do not want to run schools, they do want their voices heard and, most importantly, to be recognised as partners in their children’s education.”
A rumoured new regional approach to education governance could provide new structures for schools to share resources and build communities, she suggested.
Revealed: London’s most affordable catchment areas near top schools
London parents desperate to be in the right catchment areas for top-rated primary schools have driven local property prices up by more than £80,000 above other districts with less successful state schools, says a report published today.
With a quarter of parents selecting a home specifically for the quality of the local school, there is now a 13 per cent price premium on living close to a primary rated “outstanding” by the Ofsted education watchdog.
According to today’s research from Rightmove and FindASchool, the average price in the catchment area of an “outstanding” primary is a record £678,595.
The average price of a home in the catchment area of a primary rated “good” by Ofsted is £659,397, while homes close to schools which “require improvement” average £598,054.
WHAT PRICE FOR A TOP PERFORMER?
The most expensive “outstanding” school to live close to is Bousfield Primary School, in Kensington, where homes have an average asking price of more than £2.25 million.
Homes within the catchment of Soho Parish CofE Primary Schoolhave an average asking price of almost £2.2 million, while those near St Barnabas and St Philip’s CofE Primary School, again in Kensington, cost just over £2 million.
Most expensive areas near outstanding schools:
Average asking price
Bousfield Primary School
Kensington & Chelsea
Soho Parish CofE Primary School
St Barnabas and St Philip’s CofE Primary School
Kensington & Chelsea
Ark King Solomon Academy
Hadley Wood Primary School
There are considerably more affordable alternatives for parents to consider that are also in the catchment of top-performing schools. The most affordable location in London is in the hinterland of Castilion Primary School, Thamesmead, where the average asking price of homes is £247,284.
Homes close to nearby Hawksmoor School, which also has an “outstanding” Ofsted report, have an average asking price of £248,786.
Good schools and rural living attract families to this Thameside town
Just across the Thames, in Barking, Thames View Infantsis another affordable “outstanding” option, with average local prices of £273,459.
Buyers willing to live right on the fringes of London could consider Broadford Primary School, close to the new Crossrail station at Harold Wood in north-east London, where the average asking price is £294,558.Heading west, homes in the catchment of Feltham Hill Infant and Nursery School, in Middlesex, have an asking price of £314,774.
“An Ofsted ‘outstanding’ school will often have a remarkably small catchment area as parents clamour to buy what they perceive to be a stake in their child’s future,” says Jeremy Leaf, principal of Jeremy Leaf & Co estate agents. “The effect of families buying around desirable schools produces ever-narrowing catchment areas.”
MOVING IN BEFORE THE BIRTH
Many parents, adds Leaf, take an early approach to moving to an area with a good local school — sometimes even before their children are born.
Other mums and dads simply try to cheat the system by renting a property in the catchment area, while keeping the family home elsewhere. But schools are becoming increasingly wise to this trick.
The high cost of homes close to top primaries means some families will compromise on the property to be near their school of choice. “Park Hill Junior School in Croydon is so popular that we are now selling two- to three-bedroom maisonettes to families willing to sacrifice a garden to buy within the catchment,” says Ian Vernon, senior associate at Bairstow Eves. Though the premium to live by an “outstanding” primary school is steep, it pales into insignificance compared with rising private school fees in London. Currently at £15,828 a year, a private primary education for two children could end up costing their parents almost £200,000.
TOP SCHOOLS IN COMMUTER HOTSPOTS
Mark Rimell, a partner in Strutt & Parker’s national country house department, says top schools also create commuter belt price hotspots. Across the South-East, homes close to “outstanding” schools are £71,979 more expensive than those near schools that “require improvement”, partly due to an outflow of Londoners looking for excellent educational standards.
“I moved from Clapham to Hertfordshire for this very reason,” says Rimell. “I wanted better schools with larger grounds that would give my kids a better education and a higher quality of life.”
Monday 20 March 2017 marked the Grand Final of the fourth annual Deloitte TMT Predictions Schools Challenge: an initiative created to ‘plug the skills gap’ for our clients who report challenges in engaging young people with the skills and interest to pursue careers in the Technology, Media or Telecommunications (TMT) sectors.
The UK-wide competition asked schools from low-income communities to enter teams to develop a technology-based solution to three challenges using themes from Deloitte’s annual TMT Predictions report. The student teams were asked to pitch their ideas to an expert panel of judges, made up of Deloitte partners and senior leaders from Amazon, Fujitsu, BT Openreach and Samsung.
For the first time, Milton Keynes Academy were crowned winners with their innovative ‘BioBuddy’ wristband, designed to aid people with mental health issues. The students were praised for their handling of challenging questions from the judging panel, and their innovative approach to contact a Silicon Valley-based start-up currently working on the technology.
Being near a good primary school adds £18,600 to the average house price in England, government research has found.
A study by the Department for Education (DfE) has found prices are 8% higher near the best-performing primary schools and 6.8% higher near the best secondary schools.
It said “selection by house price” was restricting access to the best schools.
Property experts said schools affected prices in the same way as high-speed broadband and transport links.
The DfE said one of the top 10% of primary schools in London would put £38,800 on to the value of a nearby home. The average price in the capital was £484,700 in July 2016.
Across England, the average house price of £232,900 would go up £18,600 near one of the best primary schools and £15,800 near one of the best secondary schools.
It is the first time the government has published research of its own on the issue of selection by house price, with banks and estate agents having previously conducted their own studies.
Recent analysis by Teach First found 43% of pupils at England’s outstanding secondary schools were from the wealthiest 20% of families, while a separate study by the Sutton Trust suggested poorer children were much less likely to get places at the schools with the best GCSE results.
The DfE study looked at non-selective state schools with the highest proportions of pupils getting level four or five at Key Stage 2 and at least five A* to C grades in GCSEs, including English and maths.
There is a “clear link” between the price paid for a home and access to good schools
House prices near the 10% best-performing primary schools are 8% higher than in the surrounding area
Near the 10% best-performing non-selective secondary schools, house prices are 6.8% higher
However, the DfE said the difference in house prices “cannot be attributed to school quality alone”.
School standards minister Nick Gibb said: “With almost 1.8 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, more families are able to secure a good school place for their child than ever before. However for too many young people their chances of success still depend on how much money their parents earn and where they can afford to live.
“This new analysis sheds a light on how far selection by house price is restricting ordinary parents’ access to the best schools.
“We want to end this unfairness and our proposals will create more good school places in every part of the country, so every child can have the excellent education they deserve.”
The government is planning to create more grammar schools, but the proposals have come under fire from a cross-party campaign.
‘Prepared to pay more’
Buying agent and market commentator Henry Pryor said: “At long last, the government is confirming what many people have known for years, that being near a good school adds to the price of a home.
“It is all about location, location, location. Good schools put up the price in the same way as high-speed broadband or being near a rail station.
“We will see the same effect at the other end of life, with people prepared to pay more to be near to good hospitals and social care as they get older and rely more on the health service.
“In some cases people will choose to send their children to private school as the fees for doing so are less than the extra they would pay to be near a good state school.”
Previous research by Lloyds Bank suggested average house prices in some areas could be 17% higher than average.
Andrew Mason, Lloyds Bank mortgage products director, said: “The popularity of areas close to high performing schools may mean that homes remain unaffordable for buyers on average earnings.”
Poorer children are missing out on places at England’s top performing schools because their parents can’t afford a £45,700 house premium.
Research has found that living in the catchment area of one of the 500 top comprehensives – based on GCSE results – costs around 20% more than the average house in the same local authority.
And the top 500 schools are more ‘socially selective’ taking just over half the proportion of disadvantaged pupils taken by the average state school – 9% compared to 17%.
A study by the Sutton Trust education charity found that these schools admit around 9.4% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) – a key measure of poverty, compared to 17.2% attending the average state school.
More than eight in 10 (85%) of the top 500 schools take fewer poorer pupils than they should do, given the numbers living in their catchment area.
Faith schools were the most socially selective group of top schools, the study concludes, making up 33.4% of the top 500, based on A*-C grades, including English and maths.
The findings come on the day that children across the country are told which secondary school they have been allocated for this autumn and show that the top schools are taking more poorer pupils, up from 7.6% in 2013.
Sir Peter Lampl,Sutton Trust chairman, said: “Getting a place at a high attaining school is key to getting on in life. Yet the bottom line is your chances of doing that depends on your parents’ income and whether they can afford the extra £45,700 house premium to live in the catchment area.
“This is why we want to see more use of ballots – where a proportion of places is allocated randomly. Ballots would ensure that a wider mix of pupils would get into the best schools.”
An analysis of government figures shows a fall in the proportion of families winning a place at their favoured secondary school.
Liverpool, in the North West, saw the biggest drop in first choices, down seven percentage points on 2015, while Hammersmith and Fulham, west London, had the biggest drop in overall preferences year on year, down 4.2 points.
Meanwhile, poorer children are facing greater difficulties to break the “class ceiling” because of their background, a report by the social mobility chairty Teach First has found.
The poorest areas of England are half as likely to have an outstanding secondary and five times more likely to have a school that is rated as less than good, the report’s analysis of official data shows.
While nearly all secondary schools (93%) in the richest areas of the country are judged by Ofsted to be “good” or “outstanding”, only about two-thirds (67%) are at this level in the poorest areas.
About one in 14 (7%) secondary schools in the richest areas are considered to “require improvement” or are “inadequate”, compared with more than a third (36%) of those in the poorest places.
About one in three poor teenagers go on to get give GCSEs at grade C or above, including English and maths, half as many of those from better-off homes. For every youngster from a “just about managing” family who goes to university, seven do not, the charity says, while young people from Teach First chief executive Brett Wigdortz, said: “A lack of social mobility isn’t just the biggest problem in our education system – it’s the biggest problem in our country.
“These barriers are preventing us from achieving a country that works for everyone; where opportunities are available for all, not an impossible dream for many.Even those who manage to break down barriers early on in their life are still likely to struggle later on.”