UKIP MEP fears for future of private schools

From: Derek Clark MEP
Published: Wed May 25 2011

Controversial plans to force private schools to offer free and discounted places to less well-off pupils have been slammed by East Midlands MEP Derek Clark.

The Independent Schools Commission is challenging a ruling by the Charity Commission, which forces independent schools to provide bursaries to disadvantaged children in return for their charitable status.

Analysts claim the measure could jeopardise the future of some schools and UKIP’s Mr Clark said the ruling is tantamount to blackmail.

He said: "UKIP is appalled independent schools could be forced to provide bursaries to any children in return for their charitable status - that sounds a bit like blackmail.

"Without doubt it would jeopardise the future of many private schools. Private schools exist because many parents want them, if the state system was deemed to be adequate independent schools would not exist."

Mr Clark, a teacher of 39 years experience which included eight years in the independent sector, said he could not understand why the direct grant scheme was abandoned whereby youngsters could obtain Grammar School education if their abilities warranted it and without cost to their parents.

He added:"Independent schools already, between them, offer bursaries totalling more than £200m last year.

"Even with bursaries there is an extra cost to parents who are already paying taxes to support the state system.

"UKIP supports grammar schools and would aim to increase their number. We also support the school voucher scheme whereby a voucher equivalent to the average cost of state schooling can be used as part payment to a school of the family’s choice. It would be available for use in state, private or faith schools.

"Rather than this petty war on independent schools the government should be fully engaged in raising the educational standard of children everywhere. "

He called on the Government to re-focus on the basics - the three 'R's' and the essentials of history, geography and science, rather than in specious topics which do not have any real fundamental values.
Company: Derek Clark MEP
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