Visitors to my blog are asked to check out the 2 recent posts over the break, the first highlighting the strong contribution our school makes within the education space known as STEAM, the second the challenge we are faced with ‘Influencers’ informing adult & adolescent opinions.
Claires Court’s school population for 6 January 2023 shows we have 962 children on roll, taught by 127 teachers, 10 nursery staff, supported by 35 assistants and with a further complement of 192 administration, household and grounds staff. These numbers don’t include our sessional staff supporting Holiday activities, or of course the allied trades provided by our bus services, the myriad of electricians, builders, plumbers or the knock effects through our purchasing of food, goods and services down the supply chain. As an educational provider, we remain the largest proprietorial school in England (and the UK), and are part of the 1388 schools who belong to the Independent Schools Council (ISC).
Oxford Economics undertook a study for ISC assessing the impact of independent schools on the UK economy in 2021, and quantifying the associated taxpayer savings. You can find the whole report here, but the headlines are as follows:
Taking direct, supply chain (‘indirect’), and wage-funded expenditure (‘induced’) impacts into account, ISC schools were found to have contributed £14.1 billion to the ‘gross value added’ measure of UK production (GVA) in that year. This was associated with 282,000 jobs, and £4.3 billion in UK tax revenues of all kinds. All UK independent schools are estimated to have supported £16.5 billion in GVA, 328,000 jobs, and £5.1 billion in taxation, through the three channels of impact.
Within those totals, the direct GVA of the ISC schools themselves amounted to £6.9 billion, associated with 152,000 jobs, and £2.0 billion in taxes—mostly income tax and National Insurance Contributions on employee wages, and unrefunded VAT on purchases of business supplies and capital projects. All of these figures would have been even higher had it not been for the restrictions on activity caused by the Covid pandemic, which resulted in fee discounts and reduced school spending.
In addition to the tax revenues generated, independent schools are estimated to have saved the UK taxpayer £4.4 billion in 2021, as a result of educating almost 540,000 pupils who would otherwise have been eligible for a UK state school place. The ISC school share of that total was £3.8 billion, relating to some 460,000 eligible pupils.
Some final notes on Claires Court’s position as an independent school. We are not a registered charity, and thus gain no taxation benefits as critics our our sector claim. We pay corporation tax on our profits, we pay full business rates and so there is no loss either locally or nationally to the exchequer. Readers will be aware that there are proposals out with the Labour Party to change the charging rules for Education services from being VAT exempt, and thus suggest at some time in the future private school fees will have VAT added. It’s clear from most of the reportage I have seen on such proposals is that a government that went down this route would start playing a Zero sum game.. This means that many of the current subscribers to independent education would no longer be able to afford our fees, as a consequence returning to the state sector and adding costs to that sector for their return whilst at the same time the exchequer would not see the expected increase in VAT returns as the costs for educating in the state are higher than the vat returns once levied on private school fees.