Fee-paying schools and taxpayers
Sir, – When the perennial debate on the issue of fee-paying educational institutions in receipt of taxpayer subsidies surfaces, the formidable middle class and well-resourced recipient private schools rush to defend the indefensible. The resilience of private schools is best demonstrated by the sharp rise in pupil intake at both day and boarder level accompanied by an increase in student fees (“Fees for private schools jump as enrolments return to boom-time high”, News, December 28th). Your report noted that demand for places was growing to the extent that some private schools were “overflowing with applications and turning parents away”.
Those secondary schools that opt to remain private must resource themselves. However, it is not just the issue of tax payers funding private schools which I find objectionable but admissions policies which are too restrictive. Such practices makes these school virtually inaccessible to poor and marginalised children and those with special needs, yet it is this same category of people who by their taxes help fund the State’s subvention of private schools. This subvention is then used to provide facilities which State schools cannot afford. There is also evidence that some of this State funding is used to lower the pupil teacher ratio at these institutions of privilege, which in turn discriminates against children in State schools. Perhaps an audit of admission policies for all schools, including fee-paying schools in the State, should be considered.
Without question, fee-paying schools are the best-resourced in the State. Like fee-paying private hospitals which are profitable businesses, private fee-paying schools must resource themselves. Why should taxpayers, the vast majority of whom could never aspire to such a privileged education for their children, be expected to subsidise exclusive boarding schools for the privileged few? – Yours, etc,