Children should be given subsidised places at private preparatory schools to ease the crisis in primary education, according to a leading headmaster. This is from the Telegraph…
The state should provide independent schools with direct funding to enable them to create some of the 250,000 extra places needed for five- to 11-year-olds by September, it was claimed.
Nicholas Allen, chairman of the Independent Association of Prep Schools, said many fee-paying schools would be “pleased to squeeze in a few more pupils”.
The comments come after the head of Ofsted warned last month that private schools were “marooned on an island of privilege” and must do more to help raise education standards nationally.
It also follows the publication of a report from the Commons Public Accounts Committee warning that an additional 250,000 places for primary school pupils will be needed in the 2013/14 academic year.
MPs said that children’s education may be at risk as local councils “strain the sinews of the school estate” to create additional capacity.
But Mr Allen, head of Newton Prep in Battersea, south London, said the “solution could be provided very easily” if the Government was to drop its opposition to funding places in private schools.
It would represent a partial revival of the assisted places scheme – abolished by Labour after the 1997 election – in which the taxpayer provided subsides to allow bright children win places in the independent sector.
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, Mr Allen said: “If central government would only clear away the red tape, places for some of the quarter-of-a-million dispossessed primary pupils could be found at high-functioning, private preparatory schools which might be pleased to squeeze in a few more pupils.”
Nationally, state primary schools receive between £3,000 and £6,000 in direct funding for each pupil, although extra money for capital costs goes through local authorities.
According to figures, prep schools currently charge an average of around £11,000 in day fees.
Mr Allen called for the Government to provide the “real cost to the state – including hidden costs for capital expenditure as well as tuition costs – of educating a pupil in a primary school”, adding: “Schools might augment any shortfall through awarding bursaries.”
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