Abolition of Independent Schools - Chair of Governors writes to Chris Grayling MP | Epsom College
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Abolition of Independent Schools – Chair of Governors writes to Chris Grayling MP

Epsom College’s Chair of Governors has set out a strong defence of independent education and the benefits Epsom brings to the local community.

In a written statement to local MP Chris Grayling, Dr Alastair Wells draws attention to the significant contribution Epsom makes, both to its own pupils and to pupils from local state schools.

The letter follows the recent Labour Party Conference, at which the party approved a motion to “abolish private schools”.

The vote compels the Labour Party to make the motion part of its manifesto in any upcoming General Election, and contains controversial plans to redistribute Independent Schools’ endowments, investments and properties to the state sector.

Writing to Mr Grayling, Dr Wells said: “You may be aware of a campaign advocating abolition of independent schools, and the redistribution of the buildings and assets we use every day to educate pupils. We want to make you aware of the potential consequences of this proposal – for schools such as ours, for the local economy, and for the jobs of your constituents.”

Dr Wells outlines that Labour’s policy would eliminate £11.4m in tax each year from our school, and the £5.2m currently saved by our pupils not taking up a place in a maintained school.

Additionally, it is calculated the plans would remove £20m from the local economy and threaten the employment of the 438 teachers and support staff who work here.

Abolition would hit the state sector

One of the biggest victims of the abolition of independent education would be the state sector itself, which Epsom has long supported.

The Independent Schools Council estimates that it would cost the taxpayer £3.5bn per year to absorb independent school pupils into the state sector. Currently Independent Schools do much to support the state sector, share best practice and raise attainment.

“We are proud of our place in the local community and are always looking to do more to contribute to the area by improving educational provision for local students, working in partnership with local state schools,” Dr Wells states.

The College is widening access to Epsom to talented youngsters from less financially fortunate families.

So far nearly £1.3m has been allocated to bursaries for the 2019/20 academic year.

This means that from this academic year, 67 pupils have the opportunity of an Epsom education thanks to bursaries provided by the Education Trust, Epsom College Bursary Funds, The Old Epsomian Club and other generous benefactors.

“All bursaries are awarded based on a proven financial need,” Dr Wells explains. “In 2019/20 the average bursary awarded to a pupil will be £19,352 per annum. Of the 67 pupils with a bursary 57% are in receipt of support covering at least 75% of the fees.”

The College is an accredited member of the Royal Nations Children’s SpringBoard Foundation, and – as in previous years – we will be fully supporting three pupils from disadvantaged circumstances, increasing social mobility by widening access to boarding education and learning, adapting and sharing best practice with other SpringBoard schools.

Service and partnerships

In addition to financial assistance, Epsom works closely with partner schools to share best practice. We continue to build close links with Epsom and Ewell High School, part of the Bourne Education Trust, and the Epsom and Ewell Schools Partnership.

During the year, the College appointed a new Governor with significant experience of the state sector with a view to enhancing the College’s relationship with local state schools for mutual benefit.

In keeping with Epsom’s founding principles of benevolence and excellence, the College and its pupils do much in service of charities, local community projects and local maintained schools.

Last year £13,781 was raised in support of causes including The Children’s Trust, World Child Cancer, Save the Children, Help for Heroes and the Daniel Spargo-Mabbs Foundation. Our service programme has dedicated over 13,500 hours to local projects – with pupils volunteering in care homes, schools, foodbanks, hospitals and other community projects. While the resurgent Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme is estimated to have provided over £12,000 of value to the local community through hours spent volunteering.

Click here to read the full text of Dr Wells’ letter to the Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP