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Proceedings of the Castle Aching Parish Council, 1905


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16 minutes ago, Edwardian said:

Well, Sir Keir has pledged to end the charitable status of of private schools.

 

A mistake, I think. Charitable status means that there is an obligation to demonstrate public benefit and a degree of external oversight beyond inspection of standards of education and ordinary commercial audit. I'd go for strengthening the public benefit requirements; many schools are already acutely aware of the need to be seen to be benefitting their local communities.

 

22 minutes ago, Edwardian said:

So, I shall be voting for the party most likely to keep him out of power in 2024.

 

As single-issue politics goes, the charitable status of public schools is possibly one of the more arcane platforms. The choice is always between the lesser of two evils, taken overall.

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46 minutes ago, Tom Burnham said:

You might think that the British system over recent decades has encouraged governments to make dramatic gestures rather than pragmatic compromises. For instance with B****t the government might have said that given the referendum result they were obliged to leave the EU, but given the narrow margin they would remain as closely aligned as possible. Although looking at the situation in Scotland, maybe it's a result of the British approach to politics as a team sport rather than of the voting system as such 

 

That would make sense, assuming that the government had a neutral commitment to the outcome of the referendum.

 

With an influential section of the ruling party having a desire for a hard B****t though, it was predetermined that the result of the referendum would be taken as a licence to achieve this.

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The electoral calculus on this one has probably been worked-through, and the decision made that the result is likely to be net positive for Labour.

 

It could negatively influence the parents and grandparents of 615k children, plus a number of aspirants, let’s say a million children-worth of voters in total, against voting Labour, but a high proportion of them wouldn’t seriously consider doing so anyway.

 

On the other side of the equation, it could play positively with the parents and grandparents of the 8000k children who don’t attend fee-paying, less the aspirants included above, so call it seven and a half million children-worth of voters, spanning the groups that are most likely to seriously consider voting Labour.

 

I reckon that it’s been chosen as a “mood music maker”, after consideration of the numbers.

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2 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

I reckon that it’s been chosen as a “mood music maker”, after consideration of the numbers.

 

It's unlikely to be followed through, is my gut feeling. They've had opportunities do something on and off over the past three quarters of a century and not taken them.

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You could well be right, because in the event of them forming a government, it would be a good one to have up the sleeve, to be used to provoke low grade class war if desired, or forever pushed down the list of a million more important things to do if not. I don’t reckon the financial gain of doing it would be decisive, because I doubt it’s huge, it would be the political gain/loss at the time.

 

 

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12 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

 

It's unlikely to be followed through, is my gut feeling. They've had opportunities do something on and off over the past three quarters of a century and not taken them.

In the 1970s, public schools were getting seriously concerned about their long term future.

Mind you, that did also make them up their game a bit and stop nearly freezing the kids to death, etc.

 

The biggest boost to the sector came, though, with Harry Potter…

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4 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

You could well be right, because in the event of them forming a government, it would be a good one to have up the sleeve, to be used to provoke low grade class war if desired, or forever pushed down the list of a million more important things to do if not. I don’t reckon the financial gain of doing it would be decisive, because I doubt it’s huge, it would be the political gain/loss at the time.

 

The policy that would actually have some real effect would be compulsory state education. That would benefit the state education system as a whole and especially in London, not least through the engagement of well-heeled parents. The effect on individual pupils would be variable. My nicely brought-up nieces in Blackheath would have had a rougher time in a Lewisham comp than they did at Colfe's and Charterhouse.

 

But I'm speaking from a standpoint of hypocrisy, my sons having attended a selective school that is to all intents and purposes an independent grammar school that has just about managed to remain in the state sector - i.e. free. (More or less, with the emphasis on less.)

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1 hour ago, Tom Burnham said:

You might think that the British system over recent decades has encouraged governments to make dramatic gestures rather than pragmatic compromises. For instance with B****t the government might have said that given the referendum result they were obliged to leave the EU, but given the narrow margin they would remain as closely aligned as possible. Although looking at the situation in Scotland, maybe it's a result of the British approach to politics as a team sport rather than of the voting system as such 

Our rather unnecessarily adversarial system means that elected leaders forget that they usually do not have a majority of the votes cast behind them (and then, indirectly for the party via constituencies), nor an absolute majority of the electorate. Thus, they forget that they are not the Prime Minister of the people who voted for them, but the Prime Minister of everyone. Mind you, the current incumbent seems to behave like he is the Prime Minister of just a few who voted for his party, which is an interesting form of progress!

8 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

You could well be right, because in the event of them forming a government, it would be a good one to have up the sleeve, to be used to provoke low grade class war if desired, or forever pushed down the list of a million more important things to do if not. I don’t reckon the financial gain of doing it would be decisive, because I doubt it’s huge, it would be the political gain/loss at the time.

The politics of division and envy.

A more useful policy would be to investigate how we can get more state schools to reach the levels of attainment achieved by the public schools.

That might mean a small tax rise - mostly from offshore-registered businesses, to be frank - and a more heart-searching look at why so many people hold education in such low regard.
 

 

 

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1 minute ago, Regularity said:

Mind you, the current incumbent seems to behave like he is the Prime Minister of just a few who voted for his party, which is an interesting form of progress!

 

... Prime Minister by divine right, which is an even more interesting form of regression, sitting somewhere between Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, neither of whom were models of disinterested government.

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1 minute ago, Compound2632 said:

 

A mistake, I think. Charitable status means that there is an obligation to demonstrate public benefit and a degree of external oversight beyond inspection of standards of education and ordinary commercial audit. I'd go for strengthening the public benefit requirements; many schools are already acutely aware of the need to be seen to be benefitting their local communities.

 

 

 

I don't disagree with that.  I think the oversight of the CC is vital and I think bolstering the support such schools must give the rest of the community is important.  In my experience, schools contribute a lot. 

 

1 minute ago, Compound2632 said:

As single-issue politics goes, the charitable status of public schools is possibly one of the more arcane platforms. The choice is always between the lesser of two evils, taken overall.

 

It's a cheap shot, that's what it is.  One moment Sir Keir is, in the inelegant phrase of my friends on the Left, 'flag shagging', the next he's reviving a Corbyn-era piece of jealousy politics.

 

It's a bad idea for the following reasons:

 

- It will leave intact, indeed reinforce, the elite public schools as bastions of privilege; the sort of schools that produced the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House;

 

- It will kill off provision of local town private schools. Causing there to be less provision is not a sensible way forward.

 

- That won't play well with the aspirant middle classes. Plumbers and carpet sellers, they are often the parents who keep such schools going. This doesn't end privilege, it just means that privilege goes back to being concentrated in a tiny elite. 

 

- All these kids will then get dumped on the state sector, so how much of the £1.7bn you claim you'll raise will be spare after that? It won't lift state schools or their standards, it will overcrowd them and depress them.

 

- The only way you can avoid that is by replicating in the state sector all the places in the private sector you've just killed off.  How many more places, how many more teachers are you going to cause the state sector to need?

 

Well, according to Wiki, there are around 2,600 independent schools in the UK, which educate around 615,000 children, some 7 per cent of all British children and 18 per cent of pupils over the age of 16. I think we can assume that Sir Keir's policy would result in a very large proportion of these pupils falling on the state.

 

According to figures reported by the BBC in 2006, in those days it cost between £17K to £23K per pupil to build a new state school, depending on how expensive the area. Assume the lower figure, assume no inflation in 15 years.  How many new school places can you provide from your £1.7bn to soak up pupils driven out of the private sector, and fund the teacher salaries to go with them, and still have enough left over to make a material improvement to state school provision?

 

Perhaps someone would like to do the maths?  

 

- So, it won't have any, or any material benefit to the state sector. It will probably be a limited windfall of limited duration, as the newly taxed schools begin to close. It certainly won't confer a benefit to some children that would be remotely commensurate to the disadvantages and hardship it will confer upon others. 

 

- It's a departure from the longstanding protection of charitable purposes, one of which has always been education.  In order to tax the private education sector, some highly discriminatory legislation would need to be framed to deny schools the benefit of charitable purposes.

 

- It's populist.  Every bit as egregiously populist as the stuff that Toad in No.10 and his pack of charlatans spout. It's not the immigrants this time who are the targets, but those people who have chosen in most cases to make significant financial commitment and sacrifice to education their children in the best way they feel they can, whilst still, of course, paying their share of the taxes to education other people's children.  Their choice, and you may think it a foolish one, but not one I suggest they and their children should be penalised for.  It's the politics of jealousy, pure and simple. It is, in Kevin's phrase, low-grade class war.

 

- If you are capable of one such populist policy, you are capable of others. Why, indeed, stop there? 

 

So, here's the thing, maybe you do need to find a way to raise £1.7bn to spend on state schools.  You cannot do so, however, by mortally wounding the private school sector to do it. You'll spend too much of the money repairing the damage you've done. And you'll have done something morally questionable to say the least unto the bargain.

 

As Simon says, it's the politics of envy and division - the last thing we need in the UK right now -  and levelling down is a poor way to seek equality. 

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It is possible to take correlational data and analyse it to identify causal paths.

 

Thus, it is usually seen that “selective” (by entry, e.g. grammar schools, by faith, or by money - public schools) are usually seen as having better outcomes on most metrics. But the real driver isn’t that teachers aren’t stupid (by definition - although they may be daft) but that they know that if parents are engaged enough to be making a decision, then they are parents who value education enough to get involved and more importantly to have imbued an appreciation of education into their children/wards. Likewise, league tables mean parents who can afford to, will move to areas with better performing state schools.

 

Education isn’t the universal panacea to poverty that it once seemed, but it appreciating learning for the insight it creates which leads to a more rounded and civilised society is vital for a healthy future.

 

As with healthcare and welfare, political parties are afraid to say, “What do you want from the system?” and even if they did, aren’t prepared to say, “OK, this is how we will all contribute to achieving that: higher taxation, more redistribution of wealth.” Unfortunately, taking at source (income tax, with progressive rates and a high threshold) is the fairest form of taxation, and the easiest to manage, but it was made a political hot potato 4 decades ago, and no one wants to pick it up.

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4 minutes ago, Edwardian said:

According to figures reported by the BBC in 2006, in those days it cost between £17K to £23K per pupil to build a new state school, depending on how expensive the area.

Interesting.

The annual fees for Leicester Grammar school are slightly below the lower value there, and the fees for Oakham School are slightly above that upper figure. I am aware that schools like Oakham, which have been in existence for centuries, are likely to have healthy cash reserves to fall back on in times of need, but that’s just prudent long-term investment of gifts they have received. No reason why we shouldn’t be able to bequeath money to state schools via our wills, except for governments (a) not letting us and (b) probably just putting the money into a central taxation fund.

 

If this kind of money per pupil if going into the state school system (which has the financial resources of one of the richest nations on the planet behind it) why isn’t it performing as well as the private sector?

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4 minutes ago, Edwardian said:

- It's a departure from the longstanding protection of charitable purposes, one of which has always been education.  In order to tax the private education sector, some highly discriminatory legislation would need to be framed to deny schools the benefit of charitable purposes.

 

Indeed. It's my opinion, being involved in state schools as parent, chair of PTA, governor, and teacher, that charitable status should be extended to all schools. At present, many state schools are dependent on the charitable status of their PTAs, which is an unsatisfactory dodge - and of course disproportionately benefits schools with an affluent parent body.

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1 minute ago, Regularity said:

If this kind of money per pupil if going into the state school system (which has the financial resources of one of the richest nations on the planet behind it) why isn’t it performing as well as the private sector?

 

21 minutes ago, Regularity said:

a more heart-searching look at why so many people hold education in such low regard.

 

I think you may have the answer to your own question.

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2 minutes ago, Regularity said:

Interesting.

The annual fees for Leicester Grammar school are slightly below the lower value there, and the fees for Oakham School are slightly above that upper figure. I am aware that schools like Oakham, which have been in existence for centuries, are likely to have healthy cash reserves to fall back on in times of need, but that’s just prudent long-term investment of gifts they have received. No reason why we shouldn’t be able to bequeath money to state schools via our wills, except for governments (a) not letting us and (b) probably just putting the money into a central taxation fund.

 

If this kind of money per pupil if going into the state school system (which has the financial resources of one of the richest nations on the planet behind it) why isn’t it performing as well as the private sector?

 

That was dividing the cost of what the Department of Education said was the cost of building a new school by the number of pupils it would accommodate; so the cost, or something like, of adding the physical capacity to the system to absorb an ex-private school pupil.

 

It is not the annual cost to the state of educating a pupil. 

 

For that see this 2019 BBC report

 

Unsurprisingly the report is further evidence of the need to provide better funding for state schools. 

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37 minutes ago, Regularity said:

The politics of division and envy.


Absolutely.

 

I’ve not expressed an opinion as to the rights or wrongs, simply what I think might be the calculus.

 

Sometimes, as we’ve seen plenty too often lately, stoking division and envy works in favour of winning elections and/or retaining power.

 

 

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4 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:


Absolutely.

 

I’ve not expressed an opinion as to the rights or wrongs, simply what I think might be the calculus.

 

Do they teach calculus?

 

4 minutes ago, Nearholmer said:

Sometimes, as we’ve seen plenty too often lately, stoking division and envy works in favour of winning elections and/or retaining power.

 

 

 

But less effective at solving problems, let alone achieving a fairer or less divided society.

 

I won't equate Sir Keir with BJ, because one would like to think that a former DPP was at least a moral individual, but I fear this stunt suggests Sir Keir is a devoid of ideas as he is of charisma.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, Edwardian said:

Well, Sir Keir has pledged to end the charitable status of of private schools. So, I shall be voting for the party most likely to keep him out of power in 2024.

Okay, but presumably you'll be voting for another five years of Boris.

Just sayin'.

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23 minutes ago, Edwardian said:

was at least a moral individual,


Who knows were this would end-up if it started from a moral stance?
 

It would be very difficult to argue that having two education arrangements, one well-funded and of dependably pretty high quality for the well-off, and one poorly-funded and of incredibly variable quality for the less well-off, is a morally defensible position.

 

The morally defensible position might be to have a single arrangement, well-funded, and of dependably pretty high quality, for everyone, with everyone paying into the pot on the basis of their ability to do so.

 

 

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