Boarding Schools Warn of ‘Devastating Effect’ of Reforms
Abolishing private schools could have a ‘devastating effect’ by threatening high quality pastoral care for young people and affecting jobs in local communities across the UK, according to the Boarding Schools’ Association.
The BSA has responded to proposals by Private School Policy Reform to radically change the independent school sector through a range of measures including taxation on fees and the end of business rate relief through charitable status.
A report by PSPR admits that as a consequence of its proposals ‘some boarding schools may close’ and ‘some boarding capacity may become redundant’ an outcome which has alarmed the BSA, which represents more than 500 UK schools, including around 40 state-funded boarding schools in England.
Commenting on the report, BSA CEO Robin Fletcher said: “There are currently more than 77,000 young people in the UK enjoying the huge benefits of a boarding education, including nearly 30,000 from overseas who contribute around £1bn to the economy in fees.
“Boarders come from all walks of life, including some looked-after children supported by local authorities and many from low-income families receiving bursarial support.
“Taxing private schools and forcing closures will not benefit young people at boarding school all. In fact it will have a devastating effect on those receiving high quality boarding education and the many hundreds of people employed to support them at schools in local communities.”
Robin added: “One of our biggest concerns is that even with the best intentions, policy and politics could be put before pupils and pastoral care and that is something we should all be concerned about. As an organisation, we are politically neutral, and we have worked with Labour, Coalition and Conservative governments to achieve higher standards in boarding and to widen access.
“But UK boarding schools are known and admired across the world for being the best in the world, and hard-working, committed, professional staff do an amazing job helping young people to develop through boarding. So any scheme which undermines the great schools which deliver this will leave students, staff and local communities much worse off as a result, which is a real danger if reforms like this are pursued without serious consideration of the consequences.”