Labour want to slap VAT on independent school fees. This would be a tax on education and learning. There is no precedent for such a thing in British history. Labour think they can get away with it because of the widespread misconception that only the children of rich families go to independent schools. The reality is very different, as Alistair Lexden pointed out in a letter published in The New Statesman on 17 November in response to an article hostile to independent schools.
Melissa Denes (“The 7 per cent question”, 10 November) writes about her visits to “three of England’s most exclusive schools” in the independent sector. She should have chosen a more representative sample. She could have found it among the 650 schools belonging to the Independent Schools Association, of which I am President. These schools account for nearly half the total membership of the Independent Schools Council (ISC). They are virtually unknown outside their own local communities, which they serve faithfully alongside colleagues in the state sector, in some cases as part of organised partnership projects in music, drama, sport, the arts and specialist subject teaching (there are nearly 9,000 of these altogether involving ISC schools).
The hard-working families without large incomes who send children to these mainly small (some with no more than 150 pupils), unpretentious, but highly successful schools do not deserve to be hit by the brutal tax increase that Labour propose. Some will be forced to move their children to schools in the state sector. It cannot be right that they should be uprooted in this way. Has any significant support for Labour’s punitive tax proposal been voiced by state schools?
House of Lords