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Independent Schools

Volume 406: debated on Tuesday 10 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) if he will make a statement on the draft regulations for registration and monitoring of independent schools; [117746](2) what the cost to individual schools will be if the draft regulations for registration and monitoring of independent schools are implemented; [117747](3) what discussions he has had with

(a) individual independent schools, (b) the Headmasters Conference, and (c) other bodies representing the independent schooling sector regarding the draft regulations for registration and monitoring of independent schools; [117748]

(4) what communication he has had with Ofsted regarding the draft regulations for registration and monitoring of independent schools. [117749]

Legislation relating to independent schools has remained largely unchanged since 1944. The Education Act 2002 introduced strengthened regulation and monitoring arrangements to reflect the needs and expectations of parents and pupils in the 21st century.Many of the standards set out in the new regulations already apply to independent schools, but we have strengthened our powers in some areas to ensure that independent schools educate children in a safe and secure environment and offer a curriculum that enables pupils to fulfil their potential.Schools will have to meet inspection charges and compliance costs. Most independent schools will not incur significant compliance costs, but we cannot quantify costs that will fall on schools that have to make improvements. Inspection charges are related to the number of pupils at each school, with a cap of £10,000 for larger schools. In determining the level of charges we gave careful consideration to the pressures on schools operating on limited budgets. We propose that charges will not meet the full cost of inspection and will be based on a sliding scale, depending on the number of pupils at the school, with small schools paying least. For example, a school with 100 pupils would pay £4,500 every six years, or £7.50 per pupil a year.We issued a consultation document on 27 February 2003 to all independent schools, the independent school associations, including the Headmasters Conference and the Independent Schools Council, the teacher unions and other interested parties. The consultation period ended on 30 May 2003 and departmental officials are in the process of analysing the responses.OFSTED has played a major part in the process of drawing up these regulations. They have been consulted regularly and we have taken full account of their advice and recommendations.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much was spent on the Partnership with Independent Schools scheme in the last year for which figures are available. [118038]

In 2002–03, a total £900,000 of departmental funding was spent on the independent/ state school partnerships grant scheme. Independent evaluation of the scheme has found that it is achieving its aims and objectives and provides good value for money. As a result, the scheme has been allocated a significant increase of funding over the next three years: £1.25 million in 2003–04, rising to £2 million in 2005–06.