Labour’s private schools tax plans ‘blamed for fall in entries’

Labour’s planned tax on private schools has been blamed for a fall in entries, it has been reported.

Private school enrolments this academic year have dropped 2.7% from the last, according to figures from the Independent Schools Council (ISC), reportedly the biggest fall since it started collecting data in 2011.

The Times newspaper said the body believes Labour’s proposals to charge 20% VAT on private fees in England has put parents off choosing independent schools and forecasts numbers to fall further this autumn.

The annual ISC data, which will be published next week, also shows a 0.1% drop in the overall numbers of pupils at private school, it was reported.

Julie Robinson, chief executive of the ISC, is quoted saying: “You can see the change in our census already and new parents for this year are asking about VAT, you hear that from speaking to any head teacher.

“There is noticeable concern.

“Parents are under pressure from the cost of living and recovering from the impact of Covid.

“The majority of families are dual-income households who can afford fees but not comfortably.

“We’re starting to see already the impact of VAT looming on the horizon.”

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Former home secretary Suella Braverman (Victoria Jones/PA)

Last month, Education minister David Johnston accused Labour of having an “ideological obsession” with private schools.

Tory MP Suella Braverman said the planned tax will be “harmful and punitive” for children with special educational needs, branding it a “misguided attack”.

Labour plans to use the money raised by the policy to fund plans including the recruitment of 6,500 more teachers and putting mental health counsellors in every secondary school if it gains power.

A party spokesperson said: “Independent schools have raised fees above inflation for well over a decade, and parents will make choices for their family on that basis.

“Independent schools do not have to pass Labour’s proposed change onto parents.”