Private schools ‘save UK enough to build 590 free schools a year’

The Evening Standard, 29/09/14,  Private schools benefit everyone — as they save the British taxpayer enough money to build 590 free schools every year, the head of an elite schools group said today.

Richard Harman, chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference of leading private schools, said the schools add nearly £12 billion to the UK’s GDP every year.

Mr Harman, who is also headmaster of Uppingham School in Rutland, said private schools generate as much money for the country as the city of Bristol. He called for private schools to be celebrated and not blamed for the “social ills” of the nation.

Private schools should not be lectured, he warns, especially by those who have benefited from this type of education — a comment that is likely to be seen as aimed at many leading politicians. Speaking at the HMC annual conference in Newport today, Mr Harman said: “For every two pupils in our schools, one full-time equivalent job is supported in the school or the local economy.

“More than £4.7 billion in tax revenue flows annually into the Exchequer from the direct activity of independent schools. And by educating our pupils we save the taxpayer £3.9 billion a year, equivalent to building more than 590 new free schools annually.”

Eton and Harrow are among the 260 members of the HMC, which was established in 1869. Mr Harman said: “We have solutions to offer. But too often those in power are embarrassed to be seen talking with us, preferring instead to threaten us with loss of charitable status or more state control.”

Mr Harman also said the HMC is the only group scrutinising the work of Ofqual, the exams watchdog. He said: “Irritating though it may be for those in power, we are speaking up on behalf of fairness for candidates and schools; all candidates in all schools.”

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