Parents back private schools

  • 1st March 2024

Most people think it is right for children to attend independent schools and don’t want them to be abolished, a poll conducted by think tank Civitas, has revealed, reports the Mail Online.

52% said private schools should not be abolished, compared to 15% who said they should.

72% of people polled backed parents’ right to use financial means to give their children the best possible start in life, including sending them to private schools, compared to 10% who believe it is wrong.

However independent schools are also seen in a somewhat negative light with a majority of the public saying they are ‘elitist’ and ‘exclusive’.

The poll revealed concerns over private education access, with half of respondents saying more bursaries and scholarships being available would make them view private schools more favourably.

Worcester’s MP Robin Walker said: “The public know that Labour’s proposal to impose an extra tax on independent schools is all about politics and not about policy. It is a poorly thought through policy that would increase costs to families without benefiting publicly funded schools and create a demand for places in state secondary schools that don’t currently exist.

“We need to support real investment in our schools and we should be celebrating the success of our small independent sector and the many partnerships it supports with publicly funded schools rather than trying to create dividing lines and penalising those who, after paying their tax, choose to invest more in their children’s education.”

Northampton South’s MP Andrew Lewer, a member of the Education Select Committee, commented: “Labour’s plan has serious implications for all schools and for society more broadly. The sector must continue to tell all who are prepared to listen about the value and strength they provide to the educational ecosystem of this country.

“Labour’s actions will do the most damage of all, paradoxically, to those schools which are the most accessible and the least elite.”

Daniel Lilley, the survey’s lead researcher, said: ‘This polling shows that seven times as many people think that it is right for parents to send their children to private as think that it is wrong, and that more than three times as many agree that the standard of teaching is higher in private schools than disagree.

“Our evidence shows that the issue people have with this sector is not quality, nor whether they have a right to exist, but exclusivity. This suggests that spreading the benefits of the sector, such as through extending bursaries, would be a more popular path than restricting the sector through taxation.’

A Labour spokesperson said: “It’s entirely right that parents can choose how to educate their children – Labour will always support parents to exercise that right. Independent polling, however, consistently shows that families overwhelmingly back Labour’s plans to drive high and rising standards in education for the 93% of children who attend state schools by investing revenue from ending tax breaks for private schools.

“We will use that money to invest in thousands more expert teachers and mental health counselling in every secondary school.”

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