Tuesday, 30 September 2014

"Private schools benefit everyone"

You can't argue with the numbers.

From The Evening Standard:

Richard Harman, chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference of leading private schools, said [private] schools add nearly £12 billion to the UK’s GDP every year.

"More than £4.7 billion in tax revenue flows annually into the Exchequer from the direct activity of independent schools. And by educating our pupils we save the taxpayer £3.9 billion a year, equivalent to building more than 590 new free schools annually."

Mr Harman said: “We have solutions to offer. But too often those in power are embarrassed to be seen talking with us, preferring instead to threaten us with loss of charitable status or more state control."

You can quibble with them though. If anything I think his £3.9 billion saving to the taxpayer is understated and expressing the total figure in terms of the number of "free schools" which could be built is a bit meaningless.

And to earn the £12 billion which parents pay in private school fees, they have to pay as much again in taxes on income.

But his general point stands.


Lola said...

It matters not a jot how good they are or what they add to educational opportunity or how much they add to GDP. They are not 'nationalised' and therefore Pariahs to the appalling statists who have successfully nationalised and traduced education, turning the vast majority schools via centrally planned curricula into 'State Indoctrination Centres'.

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, yup,

But this is all double think. if the pol's really wanted to shut down private education, they'd make sure that state schools were top class (like in so many other countries). Then nobody in his right mind would pay all that money for private education.

What the pol's (and the 'elite' generally) want is to send their own kids private and to hell with the rest of us (disclaimer: Mrs W is Tiger Mum and our kids go private).

mombers said...

I think there is an externality that private schools impose - the segregation of poor children from better off ones. Lump all the poor kids in a sink school and none of them have a hope of rising to the middle class. Then again state schools do this as well, probably to a greater extent, via admissions policies that exclude all but those with the means to house themselves near the best schools. This includes my kids' school of course!

Mark Wadsworth said...

M, yup, whatever the "politics" of private education is, it's most important to focus on making all state schools into "good schools". It has little to do with 'poor' or 'rich', it's to do with attitude. Plenty of 'poor' parent are keen for their kids to learn something, that's what matters, so why not give them a chance? Surely, in the grander scheme of things, running a shit school is no cheaper than running a good one.

DBC Reed said...

Bollocks to first two above.The public sector has to educate all the kids( including the very disturbed ones from poverty-stricken backgrounds) with capitation allowances half those of the private sector, so precluding the small class sizes that seem to matter. Privateers are paying for privileged treatment via small classes and the networking that becomes possible afterwards.And so they should. Society as a whole has to pay for Boarding School Survivors ( a web-site) who in many cases are suffering from systemic sexual and other abuse.Do you really want to live in a caste system with some very peculiar & damaged people in charge?
NB Lola: the word "statist" is meaningless; the laissez faire/ anarchist state you yearn for is still some kind of state.

Mark Wadsworth said...

DBC, whose fault are the class sizes?

The government spends £8,000 per pupil per year, stick 20 in a class that's £160,000 a year, knock off a very generous half for overheads and that still leaves you enough money to employ two full time teachers per class @ £40,000 a year each.

Where does the money go?

Lola said...

DBCR. Generally, nope. Client of mine has been trying to get a special needs free school off the ground and the funding is eye watering. She is being deliberately stymied by vested interests in what I believe is referred to as The Blob as they dare not let her be successful.

And you seem to be making the case very well for full privatisation. The money is in the system. It's just in the wrong place.

Whaddawewant? Education Vouchers! Whendowewanthem? Now!

(FYI Mrs VA was a state school teacher and she and many of her colleagues know full well how and why the state education sector is dire).

Lola said...

DBCR. Your 'Statist' comment. Nope. Wrong again I am afraid.

Lola said...

And, I will tell you something else. State education suffers from the most appalling producer capture, but one that manages to both exist and exploit classroom teachers. It's utterly bizarre.

Bayard said...

"capitation allowances half those of the private sector"

If, by "private sector" you mean schools like Eton or Harrow, well then yes, but they are a minority and are also boarding schools. The vast majority of the "private sector" are small local day schools where the fees are about the same as the state capitation.

"so precluding the small class sizes that seem to matter."

If class sizes and funding are so important, how come some state schools are excellent and others are terrible, all with the same capitation and so, presumably, class sizes. No I think you were right earlier, "The public sector has to educate all the kids", including the ones that don't want to learn and so prevent the ones that do want to learn from learning. That's the problem. My solution would be to lower the school leaving age to eleven so that those who have on interest in being at school needn't be there.

DBC Reed said...

AS a teacher union officer I used to brandish figures in the way you have done and shout" Where's all the money going?" And never get any answers.
But your figures are miles out: the figures given by the BBC for spending per pupil in "What does the school spending data show?" 12 Jan 2012 are secondary £4,000> £9000 primary £3,ooo > £8,ooo with areas of deprivation getting more. In secondary schools= Tower Hamlets £8,000 > Central Beds £3,300.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B: "If class sizes and funding are so important, how come some state schools are excellent and others are terrible"

Hehe, nice one.

DBC, the figures are all over the place.

The IFS churned govt figures to say spending per school pupil was average £6,000 in 2010-11.

But if you divide DOE budget by total number of pupils + students you get £8,000.

Even if it's only £6,000, that's still enough to pay for class sizes max 20 or so. I went to posh grammar school and there were 25 of us in a class, we still all got 9 to 10 O levels.

Lola said...

Nw. I didn't go to a posh grammar. But I did go to a good grammar. Wasted the opportunity mind. But as you say class sizes were about 25. And it sourced able children from all sorts of backgrounds. FWIW it had a track record of producing a lot of self starting students ( including me - eventually).

Lola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Macheath said...

'Where's all the money going?'

It's anecdotal evidence, but I can offer you two senior teachers formally disciplined for purchasing resources privately at a third of the price quoted for the approved local authority channels.

There are also the myriad 'consultancies' set up to offer their so-called expertise at vast expense; sadly many of today's senior school management (at least the 'dynamic', high-flying thirty-somethings who have talked their way up the greasy pole) swallow the whole lot hook, line and sinker, lacking the decades of classroom experience that enables seasoned veterans to identify it as fashion-led corporate-style bovine excrement.

By coincidence, this landed in my inbox at school today:

'******® is pleased to offer you the opportunity to attend the Interventions with Impact conference, focusing entirely on evidence-based, high-impact interventions and approaches...'

...at several hundred pounds per delegate, with reductions for multiple members of staff attending.
(This also means the school must replace the attending staff with supply teachers at the usual rate plus agency fees).

DBC Reed said...

I tended to think all the money was being misspent on and by "managers" in education.Never got to the bottom of it because the accounts were impossible i)to get hold of ii)to disentangle. However, the spending per student in my day was below comparable (ie not very good) private schools. Until all children are taught the same things in roughly the same order with the same spending per student then it is impossible to make any valid comparisons.
@L It is no use making unbacked assertions.Please show your working.If you can have a Communist State; a fascist State ; a decentralised federated State (say Switzerland); a liberal state; a Theocratic State what value has the empty noun State? You could just as easily use the word 'system' in its stead.So what is a systemic system
then? Much the same as statist State I would have thought.

Lola said...

Re your MH comment. That's true, but not what you actually want. What you want are 'differences' from which people can chose what they want for their own. People buy differences.

Re your response to me. No. That's just sophistry. It's perfectly clear what I mean by 'statist'. If you doubt me, go here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statism

Lola said...

@DBCR. We are closer then you think in our outlooks. I am absolutely not in any way a Tory. I might be slightly conservative, in that I have some respect for institutions. I am certainly not a socialist, since that relies entirely on coercion. What I want is the best for everyone, and no specific political philosophy - 'isms' - can ever deliver that. Not socialism, not 'capitalism' (as narrowly defined by lefties, and mis-defined by most others) and certainly not any form of authoritarianism.
For over 30 years I have lived my commercial life 'on the street' and although people exasperate they also, at the same time, inspire. People from all walks of life can achieve so much and can be self reliant and sympathetic. But, since 1945, and accelarated markedly from 1997, they have become coarsened by layer upon layer of opportunistic interventions by ignorant politicians enforced and extended by self interested prod-nosed functionaries such that their lives are not their own. This creates frustration and powerlessness which leads to selfish behaviour.
Unfortunately, teachers show a lot of these symptoms, due in lage part to their disempowerment and the de-professionalisation of their work. They end up being tools of the 'statists' and agenda ridden and unaccountable functionaries all the way up the nationalised education syatem food chain.

DBC Reed said...

Of course, there is much more common ground than this disagreement gives credit for.

But to be perfectly honest and I was a teacher for many decades, I would have to opt for the most "Statist" even Stalinist education system possible where ever child is taught the same subjects every day ,using the same teaching materials, the same schemes of work,etc with the same spending levels and where the students could vote with their feet and move schools at the end of the week.Also do the same amount of homework: my grandson has to do three subjects worth per evening.These schemes of work should be provided by the Inspectorate who claim to know everything but only offer destructive criticism and should be teacher-proof.The enemy is the personality teacher of the Alfie Wickers type who is making it all up a s/he goes along.I came across a national treasure head of department who taught English by making the students perform Shakespeare endlessly .Absolutely nothing else. Teachers get too much freedom in my view.Instead of my driving the grandchildren miles round town to access good schools, the same standard of education should be available at the nearest school they could walk to.
(This is not consistent with my other views I know)

Lola said...

Well, duh! 'Of course' teachers need oversight in their work. So do my staff. But my customers exercising their free choice keep their eye on me. You are reporting the same failures of management that Mrs. L observed.