Tuesday, 25 November 2014

"Private schools Business Rates relief warning"

From the BBC:

Independent schools could lose millions in business rate relief under a Labour government unless they worked more closely with state schools. Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt says many private schools are not doing enough… "The only possible answer to whether they earn their £700m subsidy [over the course of the next Parliament] is a resounding and unequivocal 'no'."

Ho hum. £700 million divided by five years divided by 700,000 pupils is a princely £200 per pupil per year*. The value per pupil of the corporation tax exemption appears to be another £200 per pupil per year. So peanuts in the grander scheme of things.

But what possesses the man to refer to these very modest tax breaks as a subsidy?

Even if the government actually paid £400 cash per pupil per year, that's still only one-twentieth of the overall average cost of one state pupil for one year.

It looks to me as if private school pupils are subsidising state school pupils and not the other way round.

Disclaimer: Her Indoors decided that our kids would go to private schools, it costs an arm and a leg and I'm not entirely convinced it's worth it. So if anybody wants to ban private education outright, I wouldn't actually be averse to that idea. It would 'level the playing field' a bit, save a lot of parents a lot of money and in principle, there'd be more 'pushy parents' thus hopefully driving up standards in state schools. Or this is how it works in Finland and Germany**.

What sort of a stupid name is Tristram anyway? Twat.

UPDATE: DBC Reed presents this in Hunt's defence.

* Business Rates is the least bad tax and not a cost to 'businesses' anyway, as Tim Worstall came out and explained recently in Forbes, although it is probably still a real cost to these schools as I guess nearly all of them own their own premises.

** UPDATE: Re Rich Tee's comment, I do have first hand experience of the German school system in Bavaria (the rules differ slightly from state to state). Basically, at age 11 kids get tested/ranked; the top half go to a Gymnasium (Grammar school up to age 19 or so), the bottom half are divided between Realschule (secondary modern up to 16 or so) and Gesamtschule or Hauptschule (sink schools for no hopers). It is possible to be promoted up or demoted down a school, or move from Realschule to Gymnasium at 16/17 if you're bright enough, so the 11-plus is not the absolute end of the matter.

It seems to work fine to me. On the whole, Germans are well educated. There are some private schools, but these are for kids who can't hack it in a state school but whose parents have a few bob to spare. There is no snob value attached; you are marked as 'somebody who couldn't hack it in a state school'.

17 comments:

Macheath said...

"... in principle, there'd be more 'pushy parents' thus hopefully driving up standards in state schools."

More your territory than mine, but this one is surely inextricably bound up with the house price situation in the UK; the Finnish and German models may not necessarily apply.

Rich Tee said...

According to Peter Hitchens, Germany has selective state schooling (ie. German equivalent of grammar schools).

They may not have any private schools - I don't know -, but apparently their state sector is selective.

In Britain selective schooling has effectively been abolished in the state sector, so your kids might have ended up in a "bog standard" comprehensive, which might not happen in Germany.

We need to be clear what the terms of the argument are here.

Lola said...

Or better, to level the playing field you de-nationslise all schools and if you really think that education is a public good, issue education vouchers.

Lola said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DBC Reed said...

Less disrespect to Tristram Hunt who is a Henry George enthusiast. However he would be better abolishing the public schools outright.According to Holy Fool Dominic Grieve the British Establishment is so riddled with paedophilia that its impossible to find an establishment figure to chair an inquiry into historic child abuse because of connexions through family and friendship.Something is deeply wrong if a British "elite education" produces so many nonces who then get to run the country.The ill effects are not confined to the satanic public schools; the curriculum in State schools follows the same pattern of psychological oppression and fear. My granddaughter is now being put through the mill with algebraic equations.What the fuck is the point?Except to put her off school?

Bayard said...

"However he would be better abolishing the public schools outright."

You can't "abolish the public schools", however much the left would like to see the end of the likes of Eton and Harrow. You have to make private education illegal, which is an entirely different matter. The vast majority of private education is small schools in towns you wouldn't necessarily have heard of, with no great history or snob value attached to them. To get rid of these, simply in order to get rid of bastions of priveledge, snobbery and, possibly, noncery like Eton really is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
Actually, I think that TH has the right idea and that the public schools should work more closely with the state sector.

"According to Holy Fool Dominic Grieve the British Establishment is so riddled with paedophilia that its impossible to find an establishment figure to chair an inquiry into historic child abuse because of connexions through family and friendship"

That's complete crap anyway. The actual situation is, as I and, I think most people see it is not that the establishment is riddled with paedophilia, whatever the Noncefinder General may say, but that it is so interconnected that it is impossible to find a member of it who is not connected to everyone else "because of connexions through family and friendship". The answer is not to "abolish the public schools", but to look for someone outside the establishment to chair the enquiry. However, since only members of the establishment are ever picked to chair enquiries, this presents a bit of a problem.

Lola said...

Reading T Hunts bit at the link.
I really do not think that LVT is 'socialist' at all. Nor is it 'capitalist'. If anything it is 'conservative libertarian'. The good bit is that both socialists and capitalists (proper wealth creating not rent seeking capitalists) love it. It's 'conservative libertarian' because it implicitly recognises the limitations of anarcho- libertarianism as it assumes that there is a need for 'the state'. It also implicitly recognises the 'homesteader' principle of libertarianism as applied to land ownership. All it says is that if your land becomes more valuable due to the efforts of others or by accident of location then that unearned premium does not properly belong to you. But it doesn't confiscate it - it just reasonably askes you to pay rent for it to everyone else.
I really cannot see the problem with any of this.

Graeme said...

Perhaps we should follow DBCR's logic and close down Yorkshire becuae that is where Jimmy Savile came from

The Stigler said...

DBC,

"My granddaughter is now being put through the mill with algebraic equations.What the fuck is the point?Except to put her off school?"

Despite being rather hot at maths, I would ditch trigonometry and some things like quadratic and simultaneous equations. Almost no-one needs them. Anyone who does need them is going to be doing a degree in Math or Engineering, so teach it in A-level maths.

I'd rather put things like probability, Bayesian logic and approximation in there. Rough approximation is one of the most valuable mathematical skills you can learn - I've been given spreadsheets and within a few seconds said "no, that's not right". Sure enough, someone had got a calculation wrong.

Bayard said...

TS, actually, trig is one of the few bits of maths I still use, apart from basic arithmetic, although I'd agree with the others. I'd add statistics to your list; we go through life being bombarded with statistics and few people really know what they mean.

The Stigler said...

"Her Indoors decided that our kids would go to private schools, it costs an arm and a leg and I'm not entirely convinced it's worth it."

Nor am I. I don't have kids in private school, but having met some former alumni, teachers and parents, I think there's very limited benefits.

The conclusion I reached is that it's the bursary kids that do best out of private schools. The ones that are off the spectrum of comprehensives and could do with better, more individualised tuition that teachers with smaller classes can apply the time to.

I'm convinced the general success rates of private schools are mostly correlation rather than causation. If you sacrifice thousands per year to get your kids educated, it's because you really care about their education. You're the sort of parent that read to their kids at night, did maths puzzles with them in the car, gave them things to do to stimulate their minds.

If you swapped out the kids in a rough district of Swindon with the private school kids, I suspect the results would follow the kids.

But I'm convinced this is true of comps too, that a lot of "good schools" are really just schools that have gained a reputation and get the most resourceful parents putting their kids there. When the standards slip, it takes a long time for people to notice because the parents are picking up the slack for the school, using private tutors, online learning systems and so forth. We had this for a year with my daughter's maths. She would do it in about 5 minutes because she was above the standard being set and the teacher refused to set her something challenging. So, I did maths puzzles with her that I knew, got some more I didn't and generally raised her standard.

The Stigler said...

Bayard,

Absolutely. I'd much rather people learnt stats and things like how to calculate standard deviation.

The only bit of trig I use is the Haversine formula, which is commonly used in websites where you need to find the half dozen nearest branches of a store to a customer's postcode. Even then, I didn't write it, I just used someone else's formula, ran some tests on it and used it.

Graeme said...

Stig

if something weird sticks, hten what can you ask? For me, it'[ the abiliuty to converse in many foreign languages that sticks. But I wish they had taught me standard deviations and all that nonsense too.

Graeme said...

and my leg glance is divine

Mark Wadsworth said...

L, agreed, of course re vouchers. Level the playing field a bit.

DBC, algebra and equations are very handy.

TS: Rough approximation is one of the most valuable mathematical skills you can learn

Yes, that's my technique, guess the answer and then check whether it's correct using equations and formulas and so on.

If you get two wildly different answers, it is usually clear that either your first guess was wrong or that you are using the wrong equation.

B, people's lack of grasp of statistics or even big numbers, let alone SD and probability and all that stuff never ceases to amaze me. But the pol's exploit this to great effect.

TS: a lot of "good schools" are really just schools that have gained a reputation and get the most resourceful parents putting their kids there.

Oh exactly, I've said this many a time. Parents are paying for their kids to be in a classroom with children of other parents who are prepared to pay etc etc.

G, nowadays, you can use spreadsheets. You just have to know what the answers mean.

Pablo said...

Lola said...
Reading T Hunts bit at the link
Yes, generally a good article, spoiled by that unfortunate bit at the end - "a red-blooded socialist ambition"

DBC Reed said...

@L
The people who should go into coalition are the hard Left and the soft Right: both believe in high wages, the HL for obvious reasons ,the SR because they know that there has to be x amount of demand to sell x amount of goods and services and that just increasing the supply, especially in times of automation, will not distribute enough demand via wages.(Despite Say's Law.)Martin Wolf is in acute form in today's FT ,diagnosing chronic demand deficiency in the West. The point of difference between a Lefty like me and you, an atypical Tory, is that I go along with his recommendation of nationalising the process of money creation whereas you probably believe demand will pick up when people are relieved of the deadweight costs of inflated land charges and see no need for any other stimulus.The other difference is that I have an open mind about your system for increasing demand and believe it should be tried first. You appear to rule out action on the money supply should LVT not work or under any circumstances.