13th November 2017
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
English private schools on alert as Scotland raises tax
Private schools in Scotland are to be forced to pay full business rates as part of a drive by Nicola Sturgeon that has been branded a class war.
Independent school leaders warned this weekend that parents could see hundreds of pounds added to their annual fees after the Scottish government announced the plans, which will cost the sector an extra £5m a year.
If the government in Westminster took a similar step, some smaller schools would have to close, head teachers warned.
Top schools such as Eton College are eligible for huge discounts on their business rates because, like most independent schools, they are charities. This saved Eton more than £500,000 last year.
The tax increase comes as Sturgeon’s government tacks to the left, with plans to raise income tax for higher earners and to reduce university entry requirements for deprived children to ensure the poorest account for 20% of places by 2030.
Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said: “The average independent school in the UK has only 150 pupils and makes very little in terms of financial surplus each year.
“The imposition of additional business rates on independent schools will cause some to close. Others would have to cut back on bursary funding for low-income families — one of the things the English government has said it wants more of.”
He added: “By educating children that would otherwise be in the state sector, independent schools will save the UK taxpayer £4bn this year — a huge sum compared with the benefits of business rates relief.”
Head teachers in Scotland say that having to pay the tax will put schools with boarders, such as Fettes College, attended by Tony Blair, at a competitive disadvantage compared with schools elsewhere in the UK.
Research: Boys learn better when 'outnumbered' by girls
Researchers say policy-makers should ensure better gender balance within schools
Vocational education may not be beneficial to boys' learning because they are less likely to be taught alongside large numbers of girls, research shows.
The study confirms previous findings that boys are more likely to perform well in schools when they are outnumbered by girls.
An analysis of reading test scores of more than 200,000 pupils across the world shows that they do better in schools where more than 60 per cent of the pupils are girls – and this effect is larger for boys than girls.
The study, published today in the journal School Effectiveness and School Improvement, suggests that characteristics more commonly associated with girls’ academic behaviour, such as higher levels of concentration and motivation to perform well, may help to explain their positive influence.
And since previous research has shown boys are strongly influenced by the school learning environment, they are therefore more likely to benefit from having higher numbers of girls in their school.
The researchers, from the Netherlands, used data from the 2009 Pisa tests of 15-year-olds in more than 8,000 mixed-gender schools.
Boys in schools where more than 60 per cent of pupils are girls scored on average 428 points on the Pisa reading test, whereas boys in schools with fewer girls scored 410 points.
The researchers concluded that vocational education, where children may choose subjects that are heavily weighted towards a particular gender, may lead to uneven numbers of boys and girls and so not be beneficial to boys’ learning.
Policymakers should, therefore, consider introducing measures that encourage an equal gender distribution in schools, the researchers recommend.
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