State-funded schools should consider copying the models of independent schools and “work for profit” by charging parents a “premium” to plug school funding cuts, a leading headteacher has said.
Sir Andrew Carter, head of the South Farnham school Educational Trust and chair of the independent review of initial teacher training, said the state sector might need to follow independent schools in “asking parents for a contribution” to find ways to compensate for school funding cuts,.
Schools Week reports that during his speech at the Girls’ Schools Association earlier this week, Carter said state schools might have to charge parents a “premium” for all the activities they offered which were not covered by current government funds.
Other money raised, such as from leasing out gym halls for private use, could be kept as capital reserves or ploughed back into school costs, he said.
“There has always been that question, why don’t we make the whole of education private? That’s tricky. Now, maybe schools could work for profit. We could therefore legitimately ask parents for a contribution.”
It was reported earlier this month that all but one of the secondary school heads in Carter’s Surrey area had written to education secretary Justine Greening to express their “deeply held, vehement opposition” to the government’s grammar schools policy and urging her to focus on the real issues of school funding cuts.
Speaking to Schools Week, Carter explained:
“What I’m saying is we’ve got an eight per cent cut in school budgets, and schools need to be able to be more creative about bringing in money.
I could say to my parents, look there is a premium for all the other things we do at this school, above and beyond what the state funds us to do. Just as with independent schools – they can’t do it for nothing. And that premium is £500 a year, for example.”
Ruling out the idea of charging parents whose children received pupil premium funding, Carter also agreed that such contributions could be a squeeze for those in the lower-middle income bracket.
He referred to charging parents premiums as “the thin end of the wedge” towards more general privatisation of education – but stated that the problem was “already here,” saying:
“It’s about being pragmatic. A sponsor could donate something like a gymnasium, and yes, put their name all over it, but then the school can hire that out at the weekends and make some revenue that way. It would then be up to the trustees and the governors to decide how to use that money – either save it for a big capital project or to spend it on bringing in more teachers, or something for the pupils.”
In the case of his own school, Carter said he would use extra revenue not to raise salaries of existing teachers, but to employ more teachers to reduce class sizes and workload.