Forcing private schools to sponsor academies ‘beyond the pale’, says head

Private schools should resist political pressure to share their facilities with Government-funded academies because it is unfair on fee-paying parents, a leading headmistress has warned. This is from the Telegraph…

Louise Robinson, president of the Girls’ Schools Association, said it was “beyond the pale” to expect hard-up families to pay for an independent education – only to see the cash being spent on the “local competition”.

Most private schools are keen to share their playing fields, buildings or teaching staff with the state sector, she said.

But she insisted schools should not be strong-armed into striking up deals, particularly at a time when parents are struggling to pay fees.

The Coalition has repeatedly urged private schools to sponsor academies as part of a radical expansion of its flagship education programme.

Under the reforms, third-party sponsors are drafted in to help run state schools independent of local authority control, with more freedom to alter the curriculum, admissions, staff pay, length of the school day and shape of the academic year.

A number of leading schools such as Wellington, Sevenoaks, Dulwich, Marlborough, Malvern, Winchester, Uppingham and Oundle are now involved with the academies programme.

Addressing the GSA annual conference in Liverpool, Mrs Robinson said many independent schools were happy to work with a “wide variety of schools on our own terms”, but added: “When we are squeezed between the tightening rules and regulations being imposed upon us, the rising cost of our provision and the ability of middle-class parents to pay our increasing fees, it seems a bit beyond the pale to ask if we will share aspects of our USP with local competition.

“And competition it is; why should my school offer its [Combined Cadet Force] expertise and experience to parents who could have sent their children to my school, but chose not to, or to a Government who criticises my morality?”

The comments were made after Christopher Ray, chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, criticised senior politicians for “demonising” independent education.

More at:  Forcing private schools to sponsor academies ‘beyond the pale’, says head

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