Saturday 25 March 2023

On Inspection

If Ofsted is so "crucial", then why are private schools not subject to it? They have some old pals' operation of their own.

When asked, as only they ever are, how they would pay for this or that, then Labour frontbenchers always now reply that they would impose VAT on private school fees. That is supposed to pay for everything.

Now, no one is scrimping and saving to find anything from £15,000 to £50,000 per year. Anywhere on that scale, you either have that kind of money, or you do not. Even HMRC, which is of course the State itself, admits that 50 per cent of workers in Britain have gross annual incomes of less than £20,000. Two in five adults do not reach the income tax threshold of £12,570, just over one thousand pounds per month. And yes, that does include benefits and everything else.

But the pretence that VAT on school fees would pay for every policy under discussion at the given time, proves only that neither it nor they would ever be attempted in actual fact. Moreover, this levy could not be both an inexhaustible source of revenue, and a device for closing down the hated private schools. It would obviously not be the former, and it would no less clearly fail to be the latter. The customer base would perfectly easily absorb the small additional cost and carry on.

You could go so far as to ban private schools by law, and they would set up abroad. Furthermore, their continued existence is utterly unrelated to what, if any, educational provision the State may make. The Labour Party has proposed a privately schooled Prime Minister at the last two General Elections and at five of the last seven, as it will again next time, and it has proposed a privately schooled Chancellor of the Exchequer at all of the last four. Those schools are selling social connections.

They are not especially academic, though. They are often still using the IGCSE, which has been banned in the state-funded sector for being too easy. That is why, when it comes to inspection, they have some old pals' operation of their own. Instead of the "crucial" Ofsted.