Education Advisers - VAT on Private School Fees... Why It's Not The Answer

If the Labour Party wins the General Election on 4th July, they will be eager to implement their flagship policy of imposing VAT on private school fees. What is the reasoning behind this and what will the implications be for families and schools?

There is no denying that the educational achievement of young people in the UK varies considerably, with some children leaving school with top qualifications that will open doors to elite universities and careers and others struggling to achieve basic levels of numeracy and literacy after more than ten years of compulsory education. An Institute of Fiscal Studies report in 2022 concluded that one of the main determinants of educational success is household income, with children from the poorest families least likely to get five good GCSE qualifications including English and Maths. This is the case regardless of whether the child attends a state or private school, although the attainment gap is even wider for children in independent schools. Young people from better-off families do better at all levels of the education system. They start ahead and they end up being more qualified as adults. Instead of being an engine for social mobility, the UK’s education system allows inequalities at home to turn into differences in school achievement.

But what exactly is it about the UK’s education system that is failing our children? Is it the existence of private schools in which the imposition of VAT on fees is implicitly challenging?

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