ISC launches 2015 manifesto

It is time to reset the relationship between private and state schools in the UK, says a new manifesto from the Independent Schools Council

Launching the 2015 Manifesto, the Independent Schools Council (ISC) states that “the mission of all schools, whether state or independent, is to educate children to achieve their full potential. Any barriers, real or perceived, between the two sectors are counterproductive.” 

Barnaby Lenon, ISC Chairman, said:“The use of ‘school type’ as a proxy for wealth is endemic within Government and in other organisations. It is meaningless, a lazy stereotype that helps no one. There are disadvantaged children at our schools and there are advantaged children in thestate sector. We should focus on the individual not the institution and use contextual information about each child.” 

Charlotte Vere (pictured), ISC Acting General Secretary, said: “It is time to reset the relationship with independent schools in the UK. It is time to throw out old-fashioned prejudices about independent schools and bring the debate up to date. Politicians and quangocrats need to stop talking about, and indeed sometimes creating, ‘Berlin Walls’. Old-fashioned stereotypes about toffs and top hats help no one. Independent schools are not one trick, very posh, ponies. 

“This is 2015 after all and our schools are very diverse, with an extraordinary mix of pupils. Many independent schools are small and best known by their local communities. Over 55% of our schools have fewer than 350 pupils, many of whom are from families where both parents work extremely hard so that they can choose an independent education for their children.” 

According to the manifesto, independent schools have much to offer the education sector and their ideas, culture and ethos are continually being adopted to benefit all children in this country:

  • Independent schools have been at the forefront of the development of curricula and exams, including the international GCSE and the International Baccalaureate as well as the Extended Project Qualification and the Pre-U
  • Independent schools have been actively involved in the consultations about the reforms to A-levels and consistently press for higher quality exam marking
  • Independent schools have included ‘character education’ for decades, if not generations, believing that educating the whole child is as important as exam results
  • Independent schools have always offered extensive extra-curricular activities in music, drama, sport, Duke of Edinburgh awards, Combined Cadet Force etc. and have nurtured some of this country’s most capable and well-known sportspeople, actors and musicians

Charlotte Vere said:“Independent schools have a lot to offer the education of all children in this country and are keen to do more by working with state schools by sharing best practice and ideas in vibrant and meaningful partnerships which meet a local need. 

“Independent schools already educate over 41,000 children on bursary places and over 5,300 pupils at ISC schools pay no fees at all. These opportunities are potentially life changing and our schools are keen to extend their reach.” 

Further facts from the manifesto:

  • 55% of ISC schools have fewer than 350 pupils
  • Half of independent schools educate children under 13
  • Nearly 87% of pupils are day pupils
  • Nearly 29% of pupils are from a minority ethnic background
  • Just 5% of pupils are international students with parents living overseas
  • 41,099 pupils, or 8% of the total, receive means-tested fee assistance at an average of £7,894 per pupil and a total cost of nearly £330 million per year
  • 66,579 pupils at ISC schools, or well over 10%, have Special Educational Needs
  • In 2012, 30% of students with a full Oxford University bursary were educated in the independent sector

The manifesto further states ISC’s commitment to: 

  • Independence: the strength of ISC schools stems from independence from both central government and local authorities. 
  • Partnerships: between independent and state schools will continue to increase and will be quantified and published. New partnerships will be initiated based on local need, not national diktat.
  • Quality assessment: ISC schools are free to choose their exams and devise their own curricular and accountability measures. Government must take a step back for the time being and there should be no further significant reforms.
  • Teacher Training: pupils in ISC schools can expect to be taught by someone with a good degree in the subject they are teaching. ISC schools retain the freedom to employ staff who do not have QTS.
  • International reach: ISC schools continue to foster a lifelong bond to our nation. ISC schools are recognised as high quality providers and regulations around overseas pupils seeking an education at an ISC school in the UK should be appropriate.

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