Our Prospective Parliamentary candidate, Jonathan Hulley, was dismayed to see Labour’s reckless proposal to tax independent school fees as a key policy offering at their annual conference.
It was also Jeremy Corbyn’s flagship policy, showing us how little Labour has changed under Keir Starmer’s leadership. Make no mistake this is a tax on parents who send their kids to independent schools which will do so much damage to thousands of families in Twickenham if Labour gets the keys to Downing Street at the next election.
Jonathan was educated at state schools but fully recognises the value of the independent school sector not only for the families that send their children to them but also for the wider community through their outreach work and community access to their facilities. He also passionately believes that parents should have a choice on how their children are educated and the government has no place in using the tax system to deliberately restrict that important choice.
The new parent tax would also result in those paying as much as 20% higher fees cutting back on what they spend locally on goods and services. This will adversely affect many local businesses who will lose custom, whilst the schools themselves may also have to start making staff redundant all of which will harm our local economy.
Independent schools educate more than 500,000 children in the UK. And there are 9 Independent Schools in Twickenham, educating over 4600 pupils.
All, or even part of, that number of pupils being released into the state education sector would be hard to absorb and lead to huge disruption for millions of children across the country. The policy to put VAT on fees, would not raise nearly enough money to cater for the disruption and the creation of new state school places.
The short-sightedness of Labour’s proposal is that they have no plan where these pupils would go to school instead. By losing our network of independent schools and putting a greater strain on finances available for the state sector, state school funding per pupil would decrease sharply. More and more pupils would enter the state system without the necessary resources like classrooms and teachers being in place. This would especially be the case in our area as most schools are already full, and there are no easy options to expand them.
Let’s not forget that independent schools provide a service to their local communities.
Not only do they educate large numbers of children without relying on local authorities’ funding, but they also offer bursaries for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Thousands of outreach programs are already in existence where independent schools share their expertise to improve standards for state pupils. Instead of threatening independent schools with closure, we should look at enhancing their partnerships and projects to broaden education for all.
This is a clear and present threat from Labour to thousands of families in the Twickenham constituency who send their children to Independent Schools.
Jonathan urges all residents to show their opposition to this Labour Party proposal by writing to him at email@example.com