There has been widespread coverage of yesterday's Prime Minister's Questions, where the issue of Labour's independent school tax policy was debated. Prime minister Rishi Sunak defended the independent sector and accused the Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, of "attacking the aspiration of millions of hard-working people in this country". By Henry Zeffman, Chris Smyth and Nicola Woolcock, The Times.
The Guardian reports Sir Keir used Prime Minister’s Questions to make a 'pointed and personal attack' on Rishi Sunak over independent schools, saying the policy of continued VAT exemption for school fees amounted to “trickle-down education”. By Peter Walker and Pippa Crerar.
Michelle Catterson, head of Moon Hall School, Reigate, spoke to Colin Murray on BBC Radio 5 yesterday where she highlighted the diversity of the independent sector and the importance of cross-sector partnership work. The interview begins at 14:20.
In an interview with Ben Kentish on LBC, Heather Hanbury, president of the Girls' Schools Association and headmistress of Lady Eleanor Holles School, discussed the impact of the tax policy on fee-paying parents. To listen to the interview, please skip to 00:44:08.
Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), featured on BBC Radio 4's World at One, where she stated that a "significant number of parents would be priced out" of the sector, should the tax policy be implemented. The interview begins at 11:57.
Ms Robinson is quoted in the Financial Times on the proposal to add VAT to school fees, warning "the assumption that parents would swallow an extra 20 per cent" in costs does not seem realistic. By Sebastian Payne, Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe and Bethan Staton.
The Mirror reports that independent schools attended by members of the Cabinet 'avoided charging £65 million in VAT on their fees last year due to their charitable status'. Analysis by Labour of accounts submitted to the Charity Commission found gross fee income received by 'elite schools' where a number of Conservative MPs were pupils amounted to more than £329 million in 2021. By Lizzy Buchan.
Writing in the Daily Mail, Andrew Pierce argues that Labour's policy "makes little economic sense" and could result in up to 200 independent schools, which collectively contribute £16.5 billion to the UK economy, being forced to close. In a separate item beneath Mr Pierce's comment, the paper reports that, according to Sutton Trust analysis following the last general election, one in seven Labour MPs attended private schools.
Jenni Murray writes in the Daily Mail explaining why she chose to send her children to independent school, and encourages the Labour leader to "focus on bettering the existing state schools and let parents make their own choice for their own children".
In an analysis piece, Chris Mason reflects on political divisions over the charitable status of independent schools. BBC News. The analysis appears below halfway. The article references a quote from the Independent Schools Council, saying proposals to charge VAT on fees would "have the greatest impact on the families who work the hardest to pay the fees".
There are further opinion pieces on the issue in today's Daily Mail (which references ISC figures), iNews (by Ian Dunt) and The Independent (by John Rentoul).