As with the other autumn conferences the sage heads at HMC Manchester, when taking time from righteous condemnation of sexism in certain London clubs, were reeling from the shock waves of the hike in employer contributions to the Teachers Pension Scheme (TPS) and then the trailing by Chancellor Hammond of what a whiz idea it would be to put VAT on school fees! Salutary warnings were being aired that for some schools these threats could become existential. And all this without factoring in a Jeremy Corbyn led far-left socialist government in the next twelve months. Some comfort was offered by the thought that Messrs Hammond and McDonnell would see sense once they totted up the costs of educating up to a 100,000 displaced pupil refugees from the independent sector. As if!
ISC are busy with political lobbying and providing intelligent thought-leadership. Thank you Julie and Barnaby, two appointees AMC got absolutely right! But now more is needed from the heads and chairmen / chairwomen of boards of governors. It is called “back to basics”. Not the shrill attempts to prove private education is better than state education, or the supine approach taken to “partnership” in which “just-managing” fee-paying parents are called on to subsidize the education of the children of non-fee-paying parents. What is needed is a campaign to enshrine belief in the vital importance of the freedom to choose education in a liberal democracy and to support it through philanthropy. The lessons of the twentieth century are stark when you identify the regimes which sought to suppress independent education and impose a draconian state curriculum. I would prefer to see heads concentrating on the existential rather than trying to tell me which club not to join!