Letter to Tristram Hunt, Shadow Education Secretary
27th November 2014

Dear Tristram,

The Boarding Schools’ Association represents over 450 independent boarding schools across the UK of all types and kinds.

Our members employ thousands of hard-working, dedicated professionals deeply committed to providing over 68,000 students with an enriching life experience where they can combine strong academic learning with developing as young people, explore new activities, socialise with others from different backgrounds or countries and build friendships for life.

We welcome any effort to strengthen the relationship between independent boarding schools and the communities they serve. However this idea is far from new for our members.

Several larger independent boarding schools already sponsor academies. But the partnerships which exist between boarding schools and local schools are far wider and more extensive than that.

These range from sharing of facilities, transfers of teachers, lessons in common on specialist subjects, university entrance preparation together, joint pupils visits and lectures, as well as the more traditional sharing of sporting and performing arts facilities.

On top of this, dozens of students from families of limited means, and those in or on the edge of care, are supported to take up places at UK boarding schools every year. Means-tested bursaries are regularly funded entirely by boarding schools, which also frequently work in partnership with organisations such as Buttle UK, the Royal National Children’s Foundation and Springboard, to ensure students who might otherwise miss out get the opportunity to enjoy the often transformative effect of a boarding school education.

We believe your threat to withhold business rate relief from independent schools which do not meet your proposed Schools Partnership Standard will not help schools, staff or students in any way. It is also both damaging and simply incorrect to suggest that independent schools are doing ‘too little’.

Boarding schools invest every day in high quality learning, excellent facilities and community work. Removing rate relief will massively restrict their ability to continue doing these valuable things, and in some cases could imperil the future of some of our members. This of course would be completely self-defeating with your proposed Schools Partnership Standard in some cases potentially removing treasured and highly valued boarding schools from the communities they have served for generations.

We would urge you strongly to reconsider your proposal and would be very happy to meet with you to discuss the valuable work already being done by our members right across the UK.

Yours sincerely

Robin Fletcher,

National Director, Boarding Schools’ Association


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