Wilshaw: Remove independent school tax breaks if they don’t sponsor academies

Wilshaw: Remove independent school tax breaks if they don't sponsor academies

Independent schools should lose their tax benefits if they don’t sponsor academies, Sir Michael Wilshaw has said.

The Ofsted chief inspector told a summit hosted by the Sutton Trust that it was a “moral outrage” that the independent sector was establishing schools abroad and “sucking in” teachers from England while “not doing enough to help our own poor children”.

As charities, independent schools enjoy certain tax breaks, providing they meet the requirements of the Charity Commission.

But Sir Michael said he felt they should “give something back” to their communities in the form of sponsorship of local schools.

He said: “I get quite angry when I hear independent school heads saying ‘inequality is getting worse’ and wringing their hands, well we know that. [They should] get stuck in. Sponsor an academy.

“And I think they should lose their tax subsidies and the reliefs they get from the Charity Commission unless they sponsor an academy and show that they really mean what they say.”

Sir Michael, who will stand down at the end of this year, dismissed the independent sector’s preference for “partnerships” with other schools rather than direct involvement as just “a way to meet the demands of the Charity Commission and not much else”.

He said: “What we want are independent schools to take ownership of the outcomes in a local primary or secondary and show what can be done with great teaching and leadership, and to help those schools to benefit from the good practice in the independent sector, especially now that academies and free schools are independent institutions.

“It’s a moral outrage that they’re opening up all these independent schools in Dubai and the Middle East and elsewhere, sucking in more of our teachers of course, it’s a sense of moral outrage that they’re not doing enough to help our own poor children.”