The Independent Schools Council (ISC) is willing to offer free places to low-income families in England, provided the government pays £5,550 place – the cost in the state system
The proposal, originally seen by the BBC and now confirmed, will be made in response to a government consultation on the future of our education system, and would be open to primary and secondary school-age children.
The ISC has said that some pupils will be tested for academic ability but the scheme wouldn’t just target the brightest children. Details about which families would benefit and what form the tests would take are yet to be settled – not to mention the fact that the scheme cannot take place without the government’s approval.
For private schools, it currently costs an average of £30,000 to send a pupil to board, and £15,500 for a day school, per year. The plan is designed to meet government demands that – in exchange for its tax-free, charitable status which saves schools an average of £150m a year – the private education sector does more for potential pupils whose families cannot afford the fees.
However, chief inspector of schools Sir Michael Wilshaw has said it’s not enough: “I think they can do better than that and if I was government, I would be asking them to do more as a quid pro quo for their tax privileges,” he says.