4th July 2018
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education brought to you by Education Advisers...
The headteachers of Eton College and Harrow School have been summoned to Downing Street and told to explain how they will share more resources with state schools.
Leaders of some of the country’s leading private schools will attend the summit to explain how they will share more resources with state schools.
It comes amid mounting pressure on the country’s most prestigious private schools to step up their efforts to help less well-off pupils.
Three quarters of independent schools in England are registered as charities, earning them favourable business rates and VAT exemptions on fees.
To qualify as a charity they must demonstrate that they provide “public benefit” to a reasonably wide section of the public, rather than to a narrow group of wealthy individuals.
Traditionally this has been done by offering bursaries and fee discounts to children from disadvantaged families.
However, many private schools now enter into partnerships with local state schools, which can include sharing teachers in specialist subjects or opening up their sports facilities.
Number 10 officials and the Education Secretary Damian Hinds will attend the summit today where headteachers will describe the partnership initiatives they have already set up, as well as explore how they can increase their efforts to assist state schools.
Lord Agnew, an education minister, said he was impressed by Eton College’s efforts to collaborate with a local girls’ free school in Slough, where Eton College's A-level Maths students mentor some of the brightest girls studying Maths GCSE.
Ministers have backed down on proposals to scrap the charitable status of private schools that do not help out their state-school neighbours.
Barnaby Lenon, chair of the Independent Schools Council, said that he is “keen to see the further development of successful partnerships with state schools across the country”.
Parents strive to change ‘discriminatory’ law affecting pupils with autism
A couple has launched an appeal to overturn a ruling they see as discriminatory, after their son – who has autism – was excluded from school
The parents of a 13-year-old boy – referred to as ‘L’ – with SEND are challenging the fact that their son was excluded from school due to behaviour linked to his autism.
The Upper Tribunal will hear their appeal this week. Current rules state that children like L lose discrimination protection under equality laws because their behaviour can include ‘a tendency to physically abuse’, even if this lashing out is due to their condition. It means that the children are not treated as disabled.
Statistics show that children with SEND account for almost half of school exclusions, but the lack of protection under the Equality Act means organisations don’t have to justify their decision.
Polly Sweeney, a human rights partner at Irwin Mitchell who is representing the family, said:
“This appeal is about the fundamental right of access to education for disabled children whose conditions, like autism, result in behaviours which can be physically aggressive.
The appeal by L’s parents is supported by the National Autistic Society, which has been joined as an interested party because of the particularly negative impact of the way in which the rule has been interpreted on children with autism. The Secretary of State for Education has also joined as an interested party and is opposing the appeal.
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