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.”



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  1. urwin

    Why should independent schools sponsor academies? Surely it is the responsibilty of the government to ensure that schools are adequately funded, rather than encouraging them to come out of local authority control and then leaving them to struggle with ever decreasing budgets. I am no advocate of the independent sector, but my understanding is that the parents who send their children to independent schools have already paid income tax to the government, do not benefit from the measly portion of this allocated to state education, but pay again for their children to be educated. Wilshaw’s comments are typical of this money grabbing conservative government: it’s the parents you are penalising twice, not the school. It’s high time Wilshaw and his organisation were removed so they can do no further damage to education in the UK.

  2. Chirpy

    Educating young people has always been regarded as a valuable charitable objective. Whatever their deficiencies, independent schools are not for profit; they do not have shareholders; no need to demonise them; they teach and care for children.