VAT on school fees could hit girls hardest

  • 21st November 2023

The Labour Party’s proposals to levy VAT on school fees could hit girls “hardest”, chief executive of the Girls’ Schools Association Donna Stevens told delegates at the organisation’s annual conference in Cirencester yesterday, The Independent has reported.

Stevens said: “My concern is that this policy would hit a disproportionate number of girls’ schools and that’s going to be damaging for the progress we’ve made in the last 150 years in terms of equality.”

Stevens added there could be “more gaps in terms of accessing a girls’ school” if private schools are forced to close because of Labour’s policy. Girls are disproportionately taught in the independent sector, which means they are more likely to be affected. She said: “We want more choice for girls, not less.”

Asked about Labour’s plans, Marina Gardiner Legge, headteacher of Oxford High School and president of the Girls’ Schools Association, told the Press Association: “Girls’ schools have a lot of parents where both parents are trying to fight to pay the fees. “We’ve had the cost-of-living increase and I think we’re just concerned that a lot of parents won’t have the access and, therefore, won’t be able to afford a girls’ school education.

“All the research demonstrates that’s the best thing for their daughters,”

The Independent Schools Council’s chief executive Julie Robinson commented: “If those [smaller] schools close, or if a proportion of their pupils move to the state system, that becomes a cost to the state sector.”

She added that disadvantaged children could be “further back” in the queue for top state schools if more middle-class parents, who previously paid for a private school education, were forced back into the state sector.

“Not only does it have a negative impact on the independent sector, I think more importantly, it has a negative impact on the state sector,” Robinson said.

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