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  • Writer's pictureDavid Taylor

Labour’s school tax could result in catastrophe in SEND sector.

Labour have promised that, if elected, they would introduce a schools tax on private education, raising the cost of independent schooling by 20%. Experts have warned that this means accessible schools would suffer and that faith schools may be forced to close.

 

When Kier Starmer announced his new school tax it was met by applause by many. This was, no doubt, because when people think of state schools they think about those posh lads over at Eton and Harrow. The reality is that those families will likely be fine, but special needs schools and faith schools will be the ones hit hardest.

 

The Independent Schools Council (ISC), which represents over 1400 schools across the UK, of which over 300 are those with SEND provision, has responded to Labour’s plans with horror. Just this week, ISC Chief Executive Julie Robinson highlighted who this policy will really hurt.

 

Independent schools, Robinson pointed out on LBC, range from faith schools, music and dance, drama, and special needs schools.

 

Speaking to LBC, Robinson said;

 

"Independent schools tend to be really, really small, and lots of them are specialist schools and even special needs schools. So there are parents who have chosen to pay fees when ordinarily it wouldn’t even occur to them, but because they can’t find the exact education they feel their child needs locally they’ve then taken this step.

 

A lot of our parents in independent schooling are new to the sector, they’re choosing [an independent school] for a whole range of reasons because they simply can’t quite find the education their child needs, they’re filling in gaps in state provision - and there’s some great state provision out there but we know the state system is under an awful lot of pressure particularly in special needs.

 

Bringing in this flat rate of tax will penalise any parent who has chosen to secure their child the best education and support that they can. Parents who send their children to these schools are not always wealthy. The ISC reports that most parents who send their children to these schools are where both parents are at work, alongside parents who receive support from family members. These families, unlike those at Eton or Harrow, can’t afford the price hike.

 

Over 300 independent schools, who are members of the ISC, have SEND provision. Some of those schools have over 1000 pupils. Should those schools be forced to close, where are the parents going to send these vulnerable children?

 

Here in Havering we’ve already seen the administration slash SEND transport funding. The HRA, and Labour, did this despite Council staff warning that they will struggle to meet the new targets. Our SEND sector is already under strain and, yes, Havering is getting a new SEND school, but the state sector simply cannot take the strain of tens of thousands more children with SEND needs.

 

Alongside impacting those with SEND needs, Labour’s Schools Tax will also hit those who choose to send their children to independent faith schools. This will add further pressure to the already strained CofE and Catholic state schools that we have here in Havering.

 

Labour’s solutions only ever amount to creating new taxes. Despite their claim that these won’t hit ‘working people’, they are going to strip hard working parents of the ability to choose where to send their children.

 

If you want your child to get the best SEND provision available, and you work hard to make that a possibility, Labour want to tax you more.

 

If you want your child raised in a school that understands and aligns with your religious beliefs, and you work hard to make that happen, Labour want to tax you more.

 

 

The tax is, quite simply, cruel and the politics of envy. It’s reverse snobbery, looking poorly upon those who stretch themselves to support their children. And, if implemented, it will hit everyone.

 

Local CofE schools will see waiting lists soar.

 

Most worrying of all, however, is that already stretched SEND schools will come under yet further strain.

 

This politics of envy is in stark contrast to the Conservatives plan.

 

Over 700 new free schools, including 150 SEND schools have opened across the UK. The high-needs budget has been increased by 60% since 2019, to over £1billion.

 

The Conservatives plan to deliver another 15 SEND free schools, giving parents a choice in where to send their children and relieving pressure on local authorities. They plan to triple investment with a £2.6bn package to create 60,000 new SEND school places.

 

Up to 90,000 children with special needs will be hit by Labour’s schools tax.


Their politics of envy is cruel



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Independent Schools Council statements can be found at: Press releases - ISC

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