The Department for Education (DfE) has said that it wants independent schools to help out state schools by providing them with teachers in shortage subjects and assisting them with curriculum design and delivery.
This stems from reports on the extreme performance difference between pupils from independent schools compared to those from state schools. According to the Independent Schools Council, 47 percent of pupils from independent schools achieved A or A* entries in comparison to the 26.4 percent national average.
This is a problematic divide that threatens students’ futures, and it’s been a pressing issue for a long time. The Tory election manifesto proclaimed formal partnerships between independent and state schools would be required for independent schools to continue retaining their tax relief status. Yet this hasn’t happened and the DfE has set up different plans instead.
It seems like a step in the right direction in order to improve our state schools. However, our government is using this as an excuse not to support more funding for the education system.
The Tories say funding towards education is increasing and that it will reach its “highest ever level” of £43.5bn in 2020. Yet the Institution for Fiscal Studies released in its yearly report that individual school pupil spending has decreased by eight percent in real terms from 2009/2010 to 2017/2018. Although primary and secondary school pupils’ funding has been slightly more protected, and increased significantly in the same time frame, it has still seen a 4 percent decrease since its peak in 2015. Sixth form funding has taken the biggest toll, undergoing a 20 percent funding cut per pupil in the past eight years.
If what the Tories say is true and we are in fact reaching the end of austerity, the Government should focus on continuing to have education as a priority. This aid from independent schools could be a positive step towards getting on track, but it’s not enough. An increase in funding from the government at an individual pupil level is necessary to ensure pupils from state schools have similar opportunities to their independently educated counterparts.