House of COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
TAKEN BEFORE THE
CHILDREN, SCHOOLS AND FAMILIES COMMITTEE
Wednesday 7 May 2008
PROFESSOR FRANCIS GREEN and CHRIS PARRY
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
Taken before the Children, Schools and Families Committee
on Wednesday 7 May 2008
Mr. Barry Sheerman (Chairman)
Mr. Douglas Carswell
Mr. David Chaytor
Mr. Andy Slaughter
Mr. Graham Stuart
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Professor Francis Green, Professor of Economics, University of Kent, and Chris Parry CBE, Chief Executive, Independent Schools Council, gave evidence.
Q280 <Chairman:> I welcome Professor Francis Green and Chris Parry to our proceedings. As you know, we have been looking at diversity of school provision and we are pleased that you are able to give evidence to the Committee this morning. We have divided the sitting into two sections to try to give a fair amount of time to both sets of witnesses.
We tend to drop the titles after the introduction, Professor Green, and just go with first names. Is that all right? It is slightly less formal.
<Professor Green:> Yes.
<Chairman:> We usually give our witnesses a chance to say a few words, as long as they do not take too long, about their thoughts on the area that we are investigating.
<Professor Green:> Thank you for this opportunity and invitation. To introduce myself, I am an economist who specialises in labour economics and education economics. A few years ago, when I was on a committee that was advising the Department for Education, as it then was, on what kinds of research it ought to be undertaking, I put my little hand up and said, "How about doing a little bit of research on the independent sector?"
That was greeted with stony silence and never got any further, but I am pleased to say that a few years later a colleague at the London School of Economics and I persuaded the Nuffield Foundation to give us a little bit of money to kick-start some research on the independent sector. It was our view that it was an extremely important sector in education but that it had been pretty well neglected by independent researchers for 20 years and by economists for probably a lot longer than that. That is where I am coming from.
Our research lasted for about a year, and what I will say today and any answers that I give to questions are based partly on that research and on the research of a few professional colleagues who have been looking at the issue over the past five or six years, generally using large-scale, nationally representative data. The general aim of the research is to cut back from individual examples and political arguments either way and try to look at independent schools from the position of what is happening in the picture at large, using representative survey data and aggregate data, which come out of the Independent Schools Council.
I know that you do not want me to go on for any length of time. Briefly, it was our view that the independent schools had really transformed themselves since the 1960s, a period when they were comparatively under threat, to become academic powerhouses. I need not give you the evidence for that. There is now plenty of formal evidence that private schools unequivocally boost the academic qualifications that pupils receive. They have done that primarily through fantastically increased resources since about 1980 and a pupil-teacher ratio that is now little more than half what it is in the maintained sector.
One half of our research involved looking at the benefits that people received in the labour market through having had an independent education as opposed to a state-maintained education. Broadly speaking, our estimates were that for people who had been at school in the 1980s, give or take a slightly broader range, there was a premium of between 16% and 19% on pay. That is not an economic return but a premium. Obviously, the figure does not take into account the costs of the investment. That was the premium that they received in the labour market. It does not include other things, to do with consumption benefits and others. We do not know how the people in the independent schools now will perform in the future. Obviously, that is a matter of forecasting; but it is our opinion that it is likely that the premium, if anything, will be larger than it was for the people who were at school in the 1980s.
Why do we think that? Well, the two big things that have changed since the 1980s are, first of all, that there is a yet further increased demand for highly educated-well educated-people in the labour market. We know that from many sources. Secondly, the investment that parents and others have to make for children to go to the independent school has increased immeasurably also, since the 1980s, so both the outlay and the resources, and the demand, have changed. We think that the premium, as it were, for today's cohort of private school people will be substantially greater than the figures I have just given you.
That was really addressing the benefit side; the other side, if I may take just one minute more, that we looked at in our research, was to try and kick-start some understanding about the different sides of the teachers' labour market. There is one paper, which I believe has been circulated to members of the Committee, in which we looked at this. We looked at pay conditions and transfers between the two sectors. One of the key issues we tried to put a few numbers on was the issue of the transfer of teachers between the two sectors, and how it is that the independent sector was, as it were, staffing up. They needed to increase staff in order to increase the teacher-pupil ratio over time, as well as replace retirements, and so on.
The figure that struck us-we were using the figures from the Independent Schools Council-was the number of people who were moving from the maintained sector to the independent sector. These figures are relatively small compared with the overall stock of teachers in schools. There are 400,000 or 500,000-I have not got the exact numbers with me; the numbers moving over the years are relatively small compared with that stock, but if you look at them in relation to the number of teachers coming out of our universities and teacher training colleges, they represent about 7% of that flow, averaged over the last seven or eight years. That was as it were the nearest we could get for the moment to putting hard data, that you could find in the papers, on the statistical flows between the two sectors.
I am willing to take further questions on that, but also conscious that I have probably used up my few minutes now. We were circulated a list of potential questions, and my expertise, which I am very happy to talk about, really relates to the first two of those questions. I should probably keep a bit quieter about some of the subsequent questions to do with the running of independent schools. Those will have to be passed to some of my colleagues.
Q281 <Chairman:> Thank you. Chris Parry, you are rather new in your job. You have been there only a couple of months, have you not?
<Chris Parry:> Seven days.
<Chairman:> Seven days?
<Chris Parry:> I know it is a long time in the education sector.
<Chairman:> After a career organising the defence capability of the country I am sure that you are well able to grasp all the issues affecting independent education in a few days.
<Chris Parry:> I will rely on your judgment, I think.
I, too, welcome the opportunity to give evidence before the Committee. I am aware of the substantial practical and educational experience around the table, and also the mix of maintained school and independent school ex-pupils. I can say, early in post, that I am really proud to represent a world-class sector: 7% of the education community. It contributes substantially to the UK's reputation for high quality education and schooling-and I think there is a difference. The OECD places us at the top of the league table for educational attainment. If you take out the independent sector, it drops significantly-embarrassingly so, in fact. Our strength in this sector is our independence. It is the ability to tailor the requirements of pupils and the ethos to the demands of both local and global forces. Any amount of over-regulation hampers us in our ability to develop dynamically in relation to trends. One of the areas where we have been very successful in developing capability is with special educational needs.
We have a considerable programme of links with the maintained sector and we will probably go into those later. Every school in our area is involved, and predominately there is an exchange of best practice in a two-way flow, although perhaps not as much as we would want. There is also a long history and good evidence of local community engagement, going back, in some cases, over 400 years.
What hampers us is the perpetuation of attitudes and myths that seem to come out of the cold war, if I can mix my sector metaphors. There is a lot of ideology and there is still a sectarian divide between the maintained sector and the independent sector. I would even say there is a bit of prejudice and bullying from the maintained sector, particularly in the teacher training colleges. We also have some confusion over the interpretation of the Charities Act 2006 and perhaps we can discuss that, but all in all we are a confident, vibrant sector. We hope to do more for the rest of the education community. We want to learn more from the education community in the United Kingdom. Only last week, we took on board COBIS, the Council of British International Schools, and that extends our influence, and the UK's influence, abroad by a great measure, into over 40 countries. I think perhaps that is all you need me to say before we get into the questions.
Q282 <Chairman:> Let us get into the question session. First, may I ask both of you how much effect the independent sector has on education generally in this country. Does it provide an enormous guide to good ways of teaching and how to bring the best out of pupils? What are the things that we can learn from the independent sector in the state sector?
<Professor Green:> With respect, there are three or four questions in there. How much effect does the independent sector have on education generally? I think a lot. Despite the small size of the sector in terms of pupil numbers-7 or 7.5%-it has enormous influence. That is partly through the ways I was suggesting.
Q283 <Chairman:> Forgive me, Professor Green, but many schools give evidence to the Committee and with most of the people from the state sector who come here, you can say, "How many free school meals pupils have you in your school and how many special educational needs pupils?" and there will be a balance, but if I have the high master of, say, City of Birmingham Boys School, the answer will be "Not many" in any of those categories, whether it be poor children, SEN children or looked-after children. It is a very different world, so whatever we can learn, it is a different universe, is it not?
<Professor Green:> I think that is true of some schools. Inner-city, state-maintained schools are a world away from one of the traditional so-called public schools, but it should be remembered that the independent sector is very diverse in itself, probably more diverse than the state sector. There are great differences in the fees charged and in the type of education offered. There are areas of the country where there are quite a lot of similarities and substitutabilities between the local schools and some of the private schools. My own area is one example of that. In Canterbury, there are several private schools as well as even more state schools, all concentrated in one town, and I know lots of children through my own personal contacts who are at the margins between going to one or the other. To my mind, there are more possibilities for learning between the two sectors than actually take place. There is quite a lot of envy and jealousy and ideology between the two sectors, to which Chris referred.
Q284 <Chairman:> That is not surprising, is it? The Committee visited a school in Maidstone-a more challenged school-that had 100% free school meals, 65% SEN pupils, and many looked-after children. It is down the road in Maidstone amidst many schools that do not have those challenges. It is not cold war, is it? It is a fact of life.
<Professor Green:> Yes, I know, but there are things that could benefit the maintained schools. If some of the fantastic science teachers they have in some of the private schools were to go and teach in an inner city school, they might have problems with discipline because they do not have those particular sorts of people skills. They would have to be honed in a well-ordered independent school, and then they could go to a more challenging school. But not all schools are full of ruffian boys and girls, are they?
<Chairman:> The school that I went to did not have any ruffians, but it had poor children and children with special educational needs.
<Professor Green:> Indeed, but my point is that there will be a lot of scope for productive learning and teaching if some of the good science teachers that we find in the private schools were to make some of their time available to some of the state schools. I know that there are difficulties, and I know that different skills sets are involved in teaching in private schools and state schools-and it depends what kind of state school it is-but there is some scope for that.
Q285 <Chairman:> I am the warm-up act; we will drill down on those cases in a moment. Chris Parry, what do you think can be learned from your sector by the state sector?
<Chris Parry:> I have been in both state and maintained sectors. It is ancient history now, but my experience in both indicates to me that it is the independence and freedom from regulation and the ability to trust professionals that lies at the heart of this. Typically, in the independent sector we have more control over disciplinary regimes, we have more variability over the curriculum, and governance is more independent. That means that people can use their initiative, they can experiment, and they can find out what works. Indeed, the Government recognise that. Lord Adonis said that he wants to copy our DNA-and right at the heart of that helix is this independence and freedom from regulation. Our only worry is that in taking our DNA he does not genetically modify us.
Q286 <Chairman:> Putting Lord Adonis's remarks to one side, is not one of the problems that it is a very different world? As I said to Francis Green, we have a system of league tables, but some people think that they are rather unfair. Indeed, I see that Eton and other public schools will refuse to co-operate with leagues tables in future.
If you go to one of the more exclusive schools, and most of public schools are exclusive, there are quite high academic barriers to get in, and a high percentage of children will come from very supportive middle-class families, so it would be surprising if the results from that kind of entry were not excellent. In a sense, you can see the resentment in the state sector, in schools that represent the communities in which they sit; in terms of free school meals, and their intake of SEN and looked-after children, they are being unfairly compared with some of the schools that you represent.
<Chris Parry:> Again, that is an apt question. It represents the ideology that we are one community. We have to see children as children, whether in the independent or the maintained sector. The question that we have to ask ourselves is why people choose to go to the independent sector. There are a number of reasons.
I detect that some people simply want a certain type of education for their children. In many cases, it is not an intellectual decision or even a practical decision; it is an emotional one, and they are prepared and able to pay. Other people simply cannot get provision in their local area in the state or maintained sector. Where I come from, the maintained sector is very poor. My wife and I have made sacrifices to send both our children to the independent sector. Ideologically, some people might choose to send them to the maintained sector. If I want, emotionally, the best for my children, I have to pay for it. That means that certain things have to go by the board to allow that. There are hundreds and thousands of families like mine who have chosen to make that commitment, both to their children's future and to the future of this country, and at significant expense, I might add.
Q287 <Mr. Stuart:> Of course, 51% of parents have said that they would send their children to an independent school if they could afford it. I have a question for Professor Green. Your research looks at the transfer of teachers and its economic benefit. As you say in your paper, there is no loss to society overall from the transfer of teachers from the state to the independent sector, but have you examined what role this world-class sector of teaching, which contributes so much to our highest universities, plays in attracting high-quality teachers, people with high qualifications and high motivation into the sector of teaching overall? It would not happen if the independent sector was not there and so could it be that the impact of the independent sector overall is to enrich the whole of the teaching profession by offering diversity as well as high standards?
<Professor Green:> I do not have any numbers to give you on that, but there will be teachers who go to work in independent schools who probably would not otherwise have gone to work in the maintained sector. These will be the people largely coming "from industry" and other jobs.
Q288 <Mr. Stuart:> Could some of the outstanding science and maths teachers you talked about never have entered teaching at all if it were not for the independent sector bringing them in? So could there be a net overall positive contribution?
<Professor Green:> I do not know whether you regard this as positive, but there are fewer barriers to going into teaching in the independent sector because you do not have to be a professionally qualified teacher to teach there. So there will be good science teachers-I have some in my family and I know about this-who are not professionally qualified teachers but are doing a good job of teaching science in an independent school. I do not really think that that is a policy option to say that we will start taking away the need to have a professional qualification to teach in the state sector, but that would be one example-
<Mr. Stuart:> Can I ask why not?
<Chairman:> Quickly, as David wants to come in here.
Q289 <Mr. Stuart:> I am interested to know why not.
<Professor Green:> That is my naïve political wisdom, perhaps. You might be able to defend it. You could say that someone with a PhD in science, provided they were properly managed on the teaching side, could really enhance teaching in state schools. Maybe we should think more imaginatively there.
Q290 <Mr. Chaytor:> Can I pick up on Chris Parry's point? If hundreds and thousands of parents are making huge sacrifices to send their children to independent schools, and if 51% would wish to send their children to an independent school if they could afford it, is that not a powerful argument in support of those who want to introduce a huge expansion in the number of cut-price, cheap-rate independent schools? Does that not completely endorse the Chris Woodhead or Civitas approach to a new sector of more downmarket independent schools?
<Chris Parry:> The justification for the transfer of DNA to any sort of provider who can give our children a decent education and schooling and a future is entirely justified. We have to do a very careful assessment of the cost, not only in the short term but also in the long term. Once sunk costs are put in, one must factor in the whole scope of a child's education. Where we have seen real tragedies across both sectors is where a child starts a form of education and then cannot complete it for one reason or another. The investment has to be factored in over 20 years.
Strategically-dare I say it-Government Departments are not very good at acting in those time frames. We know why: it is part of a political culture. To invest in the future, we must have a strategic plan that covers both sectors of the community and takes the best of both.
To add to what Professor Green has just said, we must remember that the independent sector is 7% of the whole. If we took 7% of the maintained sector, we would find excellence in that as well. There is a tremendous tendency to do down the maintained sector. I visit a mix of schools both in the independent and maintained sector, and excellence has a virtue all of its own across the whole community. We should be aiming for that, and taking the best of them both. Some fairly unfavourable and unbalanced comparisons can be made. The 93% sector is as diverse in some ways as the 7% that represents the independent sector, and what brings best practice together-innovation-and gives it to our children in my view and if it works, we put it into place.
Q291 <Mr. Chaytor:> Yes, but if there are 1,200 or so schools within the ISC at present, and if your argument is that a significant number of parents are already making sacrifices and a significant other number would like to pay for their children to go to a private school if they could, surely the logic is to double the number of private schools. Would the ISC welcome another 1,200 private schools, the fees of which were more affordable to parents? That is my point.
<Chris Parry:> In a modern market, if we want excellence we have to pay for it. There is a small pool of excellent teachers. A small pool of apt pupils can maintain those levels. The academies and trust schools programme is entirely compatible with the independence and the lack of regulation that I have been proposing. Many initiatives in recent years are entirely consistent. It goes back to the tradition of all good schools that delegation of responsibility for teaching and a light load of regulation leads to what you are seeking. We will then see if the costs come down.
Q292 <Mr. Chaytor:> Is not the logic of your argument about the pent-up demand of parents that we need more independent schools and that the fee levels should be lower than the average fee level of the ISC schools? Is that not the absolute corollary of your argument?
<Chris Parry:> Some of the schools have depressed, in the sense that they have put down levels of fees deliberately.
<Mr. Chaytor:> Things have been going up 6% per year since 2000.
<Chris Parry:> Yes, but compared with the real rate of inflation in all sectors, that is actually fairly comparable. Against headline inflation rates, of course, it looks silly, but we all know that we can perm those in many ways.
Q293 <Mr. Chaytor:> Do we need another 1,200 independent schools, with average fees of £6,000 a year?
<Chris Parry:> If that can be achieved. We have to look at the price of pensions, the facilities and the price of regulation. Those things are going up all the time. Every service industry is being hit by high rates of inflation, such as increased fuel bills and food. If we can achieve it at such levels, of course we should welcome 1,200 extra schools.
We must also look at the comparative price of a maintained place because that will go up all the time. Currently, the Department for Children, Schools and Families says that it is about £5,400 a year. That compares pretty favourably with some of the lower levels of the independent schools anyway. There are more ways in which to calculate it, but again unless we do it for the long term, we shall be saddled with quite a programme, if we are not careful.
Q294 <Mr. Chaytor:> Coming back to the performance of the current independent sector, to what do you attribute the high level of performance? Is it a question of ownership? Is it a question of the market mechanism? Is it the fact that a parent is writing a cheque for the child's education, and the school knows that it is subject to pressure from the consumer? Or is it intake? You have talked about freedom from regulation, and I should like to know exactly what regulations you consider to be particularly burdensome. I am interested in the extent to which you attribute the superior performance to ownership, intake, market mechanism or absence of state regulation.
<Chris Parry:> As you well know, it is an area of myth for most people. Let us talk first about intake. You will find that the independent sector is open to a wide diversity of abilities, age ranges-obviously-and income levels. The detail of that is quite clear. I think that there is a distinctive ethos in the independent sector based on excellence. Second best is not good enough among teachers. I think that the amount of pastoral and wider education engagement is greater and I think that they see more of their teachers. In the independent sector, more teachers are prepared to get involved in extra curricula and pastoral activities than in the state sector. If I am really honest, I think that the disaggregated nature of the independent sector means that there is strong leadership at local level among teachers, heads of departments and others. The bottom line is that parents pay for the education, as you say.
Q295 <Chairman:> Sorry, but I said this to your annual conference a couple of years ago: one of the things that offends people outside the independent sector, more than anything, is what you have just said. I see that your head of research, Pru Jones, said it when she talked about paid-for education. That really upsets a lot of people-taxpayers in this country who do pay for their education. It is paid for through taxation. Many parents who send their children into the state sector find it quite offensive when those in the independent sector regularly talk about paid-for education.
<Chris Parry:> May I say that I find it very offensive that I cannot find provision in the maintained sector for my children? I pay my taxes, which pays for two places in the state sector, and yet I pay out of my taxed income a significant amount of money to ensure that my children are educated.
<Chairman:> My point is that it is all paid for. Do not try to fudge it by saying that you did not have the choice. It is all paid for; it is paid for through taxation. If you decide to go into independent education and pay separately, that is different. I am trying to make the point that it is offensive to many people to disregard what people pay through taxation.
Q296 <Mr. Chaytor:> What I am trying to get at is like for like. If we could compare two schools-one independent, one within the state sector-with identical intakes, would there be a higher level of achievement in the independent school, and if so, what would it be attributable to?
<Professor Green:> I think that I can answer that. My research suggests clearly that it is the extra resources. Not only my research points to that: a major study was carried out by Oxford University using schools within the independent sector, showing that schools that spent more got more out of the children. The high levels of academic qualifications achieved-they really are achieved-by the private sector can, in my view, be attributed mainly to the extra resources and the fact that they have nearly half the pupil-teacher ratio and much greater physical investment in plant and equipment. That does it.
Q297 <Mr. Chaytor:> In terms of public policy, is the most logical conclusion that to get higher levels of achievement across the board, it would be more effective to increase the investment per pupil in the state sector to the level of independent schools, to make all schools independent, or to introduce a voucher system? From your experience, which of those three options would be most likely to raise achievement?
<Professor Green:> I cannot give you a researched, informed answer. My preference would be to put more resources in the state maintained sector so that people such as Chris would not necessarily have to make the decision on behalf of their children. I made a different decision on behalf of my children, and I was very happy with it. We find lots of different experiences in that respect.
For the past seven or eight years, I have been a governor of a local state-maintained school. In my time as a governor, I have to say that although regulations come down from the local authority, the number of times that they appear to constrain what we can do as governors, or what my head teacher can do in his school, is very small-that problem is not on the horizon; it is not part of the way of thinking. My head teacher is able to be very innovative. He has introduced an international baccalaureate-nobody is stopping him doing that-he has control over the curriculum, and he has changed a number of things. Perhaps there are more difficulties when it comes to dismissing teachers, and that might be a difference between the public and state sectors. He may have to be more careful in the dismissal of teachers, but I do not know. I take a different view from Chris Parry about the tremendous effects of the differences in regulation.
Q298 <Mr. Chaytor:> If the funding in state and independent schools was identical, and therefore presumably the pupil to teacher ratio was identical, what would be the advantage of an independent school from your point of view?
<Chris Parry:> All things being equal, which we have never had? I do not have the evidence to make an intelligent comment about that.
Q299 <Mr. Carswell:> You spoke very movingly about the financial sacrifices that some parents make to buy the best education that they can for their children. To put it bluntly, is that sacrifice-that financial burden-greater than it should be because of price fixing in the independent sector?
<Chris Parry:> Last year it was proved beyond doubt, through the Office of Fair Trading inquiry and the subsequent work associated with it, that price fixing does not take place. There was a certain amount of exchanging information at the time, but there was no conclusive proof of price fixing. The law of the market applies in the independent sector; parents would not buy into education in certain schools if they were hopelessly priced or controlled by cartels.
Q300 <Mr. Carswell:> My second question builds on a point that David was trying to make. As an economist, I would expect that, as in many markets, such as aviation, when there is a big demand, supply will come along. In the aviation sector there are no-frills providers such as Ryanair and Easyjet. Why are we not seeing in the education system a growing number of middle-range, no-frills schools? Where are the Easyjet or Ryanair-type private schools? Are there constraints on supply, or are there barriers to entry? Could we do something to increase supply? If, for example, we gave every parent in the country a legal right to control their child's share of local authority funding, would that stimulate growth in independent schools?
<Chris Parry:> There is confusion between fees and resources, which do not directly relate to each other. At the end of the day, resources-both human and material-come from a variety of different sources and the fees do not directly relate. There is a demographic problem, which is that the number of pupils is declining and will decline over the next 10 years. If we look across both sectors, the idea of having what I would call independence or excellence-light-the Ryanair example-is not useful. However, the experiments that we are having with academies and trust schools should give you the answer within about five or six years. We are on the leading edge of that at the moment, and we have got to see what both the educational and the financial provision are before we can make really clear judgments.
Looking across the independent sector, there are certain fixed costs-staff costs, facilities, regulation costs-that take up about 90% of the costs of running a school. There is very little variability or flexibility with that, so having these schools on the cheap would be pretty difficult, although in the maintained sector, with all the infrastructure already in place, there might be some room for that. That is where academies, trust schools and other such innovations can come in, but I stress that that relies on a certain amount of delegation to the professionals, as they know how to run schools, and putting in place partnerships that will allow them to run businesses as well. Schools are businesses at the end of the day.
Q301 <Chairman:> I thought that most of your members were charities?
<Chris Parry:> I am talking about the maintained sector. With academies and trusts, there is a chance that if you have good partnerships in place that bring expertise to the governance, you might be able to reduce the equivalent costs in the maintained sector.
Q302 <Mr. Carswell:> Professor Green, I am interested in your thoughts. Why cannot we have Ryanair-type independent schools?
<Professor Green:> It is a really good question. The glib answer is that Ryanair operates in the for-profit sector, whereas the independents are not-for-profit institutions. The people who run schools are not there to make profits from those schools. They do not have shareholders. I read about a small number of schools that are franchised, but I do not have expertise in that.
Although that was the glib answer, none the less, to my mind, there is a bit of a puzzle about the 7 or 7.5%. It was 7.5% back in 1980, yet an enormous amount of money has gone into the sector. You can question the fact that costs go up faster in the education sector than for buying washing machines or something like that, but none the less, in real terms, an enormously increased resource goes in annually and, on top of that, there is the existing wealth of schools. It is puzzling that more schools have not started up.
Q303 <Annette Brooke:> My first question should be to both Francis and Chris. Are independent schools businesses or charities?
<Chris Parry:> According to the Charities Act 2006, they are all charities.
<Professor Green:> That is the legal answer, which is correct. Most private schools provide only relatively limited public benefit; that is my personal experience, and I know many schools in the Canterbury area. My sons are at school, and they benefit because they can use the large hall of the local public school for prize-givings. That is welcome. Whenever my sons' friends see the facilities there, they are always gobsmacked by the fantastic playing fields, halls and so on, but I am afraid that they never get to use them. Such schools are not charities in the sense that they are broadly available for members of the public to use, in my view. That is not a legalistic statement-
<Mr. Carswell:> It is a subjective comment.
<Professor Green:> Sorry, it is a statement about the people who actually use those schools, who are mainly people from the higher income brackets. That is a statement of fact. In the area that I know about, they are largely not people from working-class estates in the Canterbury district area, and I suspect that that is true throughout the whole country.
Q304 <Annette Brooke:> May I just follow that through? Let us take the new legal definition of charitable status, and obviously there are some requirements on independent schools. I think that the ISC suggested that the new regulations presented a threat to independent schools. In what way do they present a threat?
<Chris Parry:> Thanks for the question. It is not so much the new Charities Act that presents a threat to us, but its interpretation. The definition of public benefit has not changed; only the interpretation placed on it by the Charity Commission has changed. I am really concerned that most trustees will be confused about their role, because it seems that the education mission, which justifies the charitable status in the first place, has become of secondary importance to the social mission implied by some of the guidelines issued by the Charity Commission. Therein lies the threat. In the gap between the legal requirement and the public perception, there might be many flaws.
Q305 <Annette Brooke:> I want to follow that through. I am a great one for looking on the bright side of life.
<Chris Parry:> So am I.
<Annette Brooke:> Presumably, there are opportunities for you to forge stronger links between the independent and maintained sectors. Where do you see the main opportunities?
<Chris Parry:> First, it is worth saying that many of these partnerships and links already exist, and have done for many years. Independent schools are characterised by their local and community commitment. There are hundreds of partnerships between maintained and independent schools. They share expertise and ideas, especially in shortage subjects. Hampton School in Middlesex, for example-it will be familiar to some members of the Committee-engages extensively with local maintained schools in subjects such as physics, chemistry and biology. It has master classes on the academic side at weekends and half terms. Hundreds of our schools run summer schools, sports clubs and coaching. We have something called Pitchlink that co-ordinates independent schools' pitches. That goes out not only to adult teams, but children's teams as well. We share playing fields and other facilities-Dame Kelly Holmes trained at Tonbridge School when she was at school. We have 330 Government-sponsored independent state school partnerships, which have grown up over the past 10 years.
Q306 <Annette Brooke:> Will the ISC be promoting good practice? While I know that there are some good examples around, we could probably all think of instances where there is no real partnership at all. How do you plan to spread good practice?
<Chris Parry:> That is kind of you. In our sector, one thing that we lack is the ability to go the same way on the same day. I have a certain number of rogue elements in my sector, but I have 1,450 head teachers who are all independent heads of their own schools. Part of my role in the future will be to disseminate best practice, not just in that area, but in the academic arena. It is something that we have lacked up until now, and the challenge from the Charity Commission will give us an opportunity to do that, particularly in this area. It is important to stress that every head is aware of his responsibilities with regard to his local community. The vast majority of schools are fully engaged with their community and with other maintained schools in their area. We are seeing clusters of schools growing up, and one of the problems with the academy programme is that it forces a beauty contest in certain local areas, where the independent school has to latch on to a single school-chosen for them in some cases; chosen by them in others-and that leaves the other schools to go to the wire. I am in favour of clusters where independent schools help other schools in their area more generally. That does not mean that the academy programme is not worth sponsoring-it certainly is-but the beauty contest threatens to reduce influence in local communities.
Q307 <Chairman:> Chris, let us get this on record. One thing worries me about what you have just said in response to Annette. Has the Charities Act 2006 made a difference to your members in terms of how they see the onus on them to act in a different way to come up to the expectations of Charity Commission? Part of what you said implied that we have always done this, and we are going to carry on as we were. I understand from the Charities Act and from the Charity Commission, which I met recently, that it is looking to you for a marked change in behaviour. Are you saying that most of your members do not see that change?
<Chris Parry:> No, the Charities Act and its interpretation by the Charity Commission has catalysed people's views. They are looking at better ways of doing what they already do, and I think that you will find that people will be more imaginative in the ways in which they stretch their resources to help their local communities further.
To a greater or lesser extent, our members have always done things with the local community; they have always helped the maintained sector. We are going to systematise it better. As Annette Brooke said, we can introduce best practice and make suggestions because we cover the whole of the spectrum. It should not be forgotten that we work in the interests of the whole education community. It is not an "us and them" argument. My organisation is fundamentally interested in the improvement of education across the whole community.
Q308 <Annette Brooke:> May I ask, Francis, whether all of this is just cosmetic to legitimise the independent sector? Will we really see changes as a consequence of the latest Charities Act?
<Professor Green:> I do not have great hopes or expectations that it will lead to enormous change. There will be more difficulties in the proposals from the Charity Commission than Chris and colleagues are expecting. However, I am not an expert, and they look at what they do and how they configure their own schools better. As I understand it, public benefit means that people should not be excluded from the opportunity to benefit on the grounds of poverty. I am not saying what should or should not happen, but it may be interpreted in that way. There are millions of people in this country who are excluded from using private schools on grounds of poverty. Look at the fees. It is like the elephant in the room; it is so obvious. I think that the proposals will have some effect, and the effect could be more than cosmetic.
Q309 <Mr. Slaughter:> Boarding fees are probably about the same as the average income-about £20,000 a year. If I was paying that amount per child, I might have some objections. As you said so eloquently earlier on, you have already paid through your taxes and you are now paying a huge, phenomenal sum of money, and the resources that you are paying for are being given away to people who are not paying for them. Is that how parents and governors of independent schools react?
<Chris Parry:> Each parent, governor and head will have to make their own choice. From my own point of view, there is a social responsibility for all institutions in this country. I spent 35 years in the public service, and it was about money. I would not do the job, to tell you the truth. This is not about money; it is about community and social responsibility. We also live in a market-driven society.
Q310 <Mr. Slaughter:> That is exactly the opposite to what you said a few moments ago. You gave us a short lecture on why the Government should be providing state schools to which you felt able to send your children and that you were paying a penalty by sending them to independent schools. If the Government or the Charity Commission were then asking you effectively to pay a third time by giving back to the state for the use of other children the resources that you have not only paid for through taxes but through school fees as well, is that not something to which your school would object?
<Chris Parry:> I cannot speak for the schools; it will be up to them. All I can do is give an opinion. My opinion is that there is a social responsibility and different schools will find different ways of providing that endowment. As you know, Winchester has suggested that it will put an extra rate on the fees. That is the only school so far that has suggested a direct pecuniary penalty to its parents. You will know that some schools have endowments. Christ's Hospital, for example, has a huge endowment. It gives bursaries and scholarships to the tune of 86% of its pupils. It has an endowment that serves a public purpose. Other schools will find ways in which they can extend educational provision.
If I could just finish off what Professor Green said-we are in the area of opinion here-and while there is an ongoing consultation with the Charity Commission, none of us can say what the ultimate provision will be. Therefore, it is mere speculation at the moment. All I can say is that the law is very explicit at the moment about what constitutes public benefit, and that definition has not changed from the previous legislation. The definition of a charity fits every one of our schools at the moment. I am encouraging each of them to write to Dame Suzi Leather to show why they fit that particular charity status.
<Chairman:> I am conscious that we have two sets of witnesses. Andy, do you want a quick further question?
Q311 <Mr. Slaughter:> I want to go back to the point that Annette was touching on. Is there not a big difference between saying, "You can use our playing fields and facilities when we are not using them"-that is not a great opportunity cost to the private school-and taking on a large project, such as sponsoring an academy? Is that why you are objecting to that? You say, "Well, we'd rather spread our largesse around in a rather thinner way," but if independent schools were required to have a project that could take a substantial investment of time, money and dilution of their resources, that would be a sea change. That is what you are opposing, is it not?
<Chris Parry:> No, I am opposing the idea that each independent school is the same as the others. We have some independent schools that are bumping along, just about able to provide provision with their resources and outputs. You cannot compare Winchester or Eton with some of the smaller schools around the country. Each will be able to contribute in its own way, according to its resources.
Q312 <Mr. Slaughter:> But subject to financial audit or capacity audit, there are clearly independent schools that are hugely well resourced and funded. In the end, it comes down to money and commitment. The idea that seemed to lie behind the Act-unless it was just a bone to throw to Labour Back Benchers-was that if we want to achieve something substantive, we should cut through the failings of schools that are barely able to keep their head above water. A lot of independent schools are highly successful and have huge resources, and could manage to take on a large project of that kind. Do you think that they should?
<Chris Parry:> Given that you have just explained the flexibility that we require in the interpretation of the Act, I agree with you. That would enable schools to contribute according to their resources and expertise. But we do not know, and part of the problem with the Charity Commission is that some of its guidelines are incredibly confusing and do not give us any hard tack to bite on. Until we get that guidance-
<Mr. Slaughter:> It does not sound to me like we are getting engagement.
<Chris Parry:> No, we cannot. We are not being given the ammunition to find out what our members can contribute. When we get better guidelines on 11 July, I can come back and give you a more sensible answer, perhaps.
<Chairman:> We are very close to our time. Graham.
Q313 <Mr. Stuart:> A quick question, Professor Green: is there a danger that the impact of the Charity Commission could be that fees for those who are already struggling to pay them at institutions that are not so fabulously endowed as the tiny number at the top could be affected, with a detrimental effect on people of modest means who sometimes find their entire family contributing, because they think that local schools will not be able to perform for their children? Is there a danger?
<Professor Green:> Is there a danger because they might lose their charitable or registered status?
<Mr. Stuart:> I am thinking of the impact on fees. If there were a cost when the new guidelines from the Charity Commission were enforced, while everyone was thinking about the Etons and Winchesters, could people be driven out of small schools providing SEN provision, for instance? It is an enormously diverse sector. Is there a danger that people of modest means in particular circumstances could be driven out of the independent sector because of additional costs imposed on it?
<Professor Green:> A small danger, yes.
Q314 <Mr. Stuart:> On well-being, Professor Green, do you have any understanding of the comparative well-being of children in the independent sector and the maintained sector? Has there been any work on that?
<Professor Green:> No independent research that I am aware of. That was not part of our research looking at children currently in school.
Q315 <Mr. Stuart:> Obviously, one of the big issues is that it appears from some research that we have the most miserable children in Europe overall. May I ask Chris Parry whether there is evidence that the sense of well-being is higher in the independent sector? It is not just about qualifications or earnings; it is also about bringing up happy, well-adjusted children.
<Professor Green:> You will gather that one of my beefs is that here we have a sector that is very important and making a big contribution, yet the investment in it and understanding of it from people who are independent of the independent sector is relatively limited. What we have tried to do is to kick-start something that simply does not exist-people have been frightened off it and stayed away from it-to try to understand better its role in society. We need more research on it, and an additional academic response.
Q316 <Chairman:> Have you done research on the contextual added value of the independent sector?
<Professor Green:> Not personally, but there is one study available that shows that the independent sector adds more added value to qualifications than the state-maintained sector.
Q317 <Mr. Stuart:> Can I get an answer from Chris on whether he has any feeling about well-being?
<Chris Parry:> The critical nexus is between parents, teachers and pupils. What we have achieved in the independent sector is a good relationship between the three. Two of the points of that triangle have a vital interest in the third point, which is the children. Our pastoral and educational strength, I think, complements the schooling that we provide.
Q318 <Mr. Stuart:> On regulation, we know that you were not happy about Ofsted's increased role in the regulation of independent schools, yet when we took evidence from Ofsted, its representatives appeared bewildered that you should have any such concerns. They did not seem to understand what those concerns were. Perhaps, for the benefit of the Committee, you could give us a clearer understanding of the problems.
<Chris Parry:> We have our own independent schools inspectorate, which has functioned for many years and produces high levels of excellence and achievement. I am afraid that we are sceptical of Ofsted's ability to take on additional schools; it is barely able to deal with the number of schools under its control at the moment. We think that we have different standards of best practice, and we would not welcome a shotgun wedding between Ofsted and the Independent Schools Inspectorate.
Q319 <Fiona Mactaggart:> Is there anything that the independent sector can learn from the maintained sector?
<Chris Parry:> Yes, lots.
<Fiona Mactaggart:> What?
<Chris Parry:> There is a lot of best practice on both sides of the divide. I am regularly at the National School for College Leadership up in Nottingham, and it is quite clear that there is expertise. What they do not do is talk to each other. I said "sectarian divide" earlier. It is quite severe. There is an ideological problem between the independent and maintained sectors, but when you get people together, they are the same profession. They recognise that, and each realises that the other is human. From my own experience during the cold war, as I said earlier, I know that there are misperceptions about what is going on on the other side of the divide.
I personally believe that we need to have more inter-sector transfer, so that people get experience in both sectors. There are different challenges in the maintained sector from those in the independent sector. We need to talk more-that is the first thing-and find out what we have in common, which, after all, is children, and then go on to build bridges. There are different perspectives and different things like that. What specifically can we learn? I think that we can learn things about discipline. It is a real myth that there are no discipline problems in the independent sector. Boys will be boys, and girls will be girls. What I call the 14-18 war always has to be fought by adults with children; there is no question about that. There are lots of things in that area.
There are good partnership lessons that we can learn. Certainly, as the Government agenda rolls forward that says that we must engage more with our communities and increase partnerships, an incredible amount of good practice has come forward from the maintained sector that we can learn from. At the end of the day, it is a single community. The more we can drive the two sectors towards a single community in terms of perception and outputs for our children, the better it will be.
Q320 <Fiona Mactaggart:> Have the Charities Act 2006 and Government policy reduced what you call the cold war?
<Chris Parry:> I think that it has produced a flash point along the Berlin wall. I think that it has heightened tensions, because it has made people very nervous about what regulation might do to the independent sector, and it looks like a missile aimed from the maintained sector into the independent sector.
Q321 <Fiona Mactaggart:> What has the maintained sector got to do with it?
<Chris Parry:> Most of the people who are baying for the independent schools to do more and putting around interpretations that even the Charity Commission does not talk about come from the maintained sector. I tell you that there is a lot of prejudice, particularly in initial teacher training. If you go into the independent sector, there is bullying and all sorts of influence to stop people going to the independent sector. That sort of thing has got to stop. We are a single community, and the idea of privilege and wealth-
Q322 <Chairman:> What is the evidence for that? As Chairman of this Committee, I have never heard of that before. What is the evidence for that bullying?
<Chris Parry:> The evidence is research done by my organisation into last year's outtake from initial teacher training. I can forward that to the Committee.
<Chairman:> We would appreciate that.
<Fiona Mactaggart:> I used to be a teacher educator, and I do not recall any such bullying. However, we will leave that there.
<Mr. Stuart:> With your views, that is perhaps not surprising.
Q323 <Fiona Mactaggart:> I am concerned about your view that the Charities Act 2006 has been a flashpoint. It seemed to me that the duty on schools to show that they do not exclude the broader public, which might not be able to afford the fees, from benefiting from their activities should be quite a gentle pressure towards more collaboration. I do not quite understand why it has not been. Many schools have always accepted the concept of public benefit.
<Chris Parry:> Again, I would say that we are still in a consultation phase. The guidelines from the Charity Commission are very confused. In my experience, where there is confusion, there will always be nervousness and antagonism. The friction that is happening is not helpful to the debate.
Q324 <Fiona Mactaggart:> So your problem is with the guidance, not with the principle.
<Chris Parry:> The principle of what?
<Fiona Mactaggart:> Of public benefit having to be shown by those who benefit from the tax release under the Charities Act 2006.
<Chris Parry:> I have absolutely no problem with the 2006 Act saying that public benefit must be demonstrated, but I am afraid that, currently, it is the discretion that the Charity Commission has arrogated to itself to provide the interpretation of the Act that is causing the problem.
Q325 <Fiona Mactaggart:> It is still draft guidance. This is the second draft, is it not?
<Chris Parry:> Yes, but in all our dealings with the Charity Commission, the guidance did not accord with the discussions that had taken place.
Q326 <Fiona Mactaggart:> So it is cheating?
<Chris Parry:> No, it may simply be thinking one thing and talking to us on a different level. We do not know. Until the guidelines come out properly on 11 July, anything that I say on this is pure opinion.
<Chairman:> It sounds like Frankie Howerd's, "Infamy! Infamy! They've all got it in for me!"
<Chris Parry:> Of course we are nervous because of the open-ended discretion that seems to be applied. I am concerned about schools such as Winchester and Eton, against which all other schools will be judged. We have no assurance that any sort of flexibility or agility in that regard will be in place. If you put a large public school as the benchmark, many schools will not be able to meet those criteria. Vast numbers of people will not be able to afford the education that is given at those schools if charity status is not sustained.
<Chairman:> One last question, Fiona, because we must move to the next session.
Q327 <Fiona Mactaggart:> I have a question for Professor Green. You talked about the proportion of advantage that those who had been to independent schools accrued in their later employment. I am still concerned about how you know that that is a causation and not a correlation.
<Professor Green:> The answer is that it is never 100% certain that it is not a correlation. We are pretty sure because we control for a lot of things. In this study we controlled for family background, for cognitive and non-cognitive abilities at the age of five and for other things. In controlling for those things, we were being statistical in looking at the relationship between people who have been to private schools and those who have not and in looking at their wages later. That is a standard procedure in econometrics.
There are all sorts of caveats that one needs to bring to bear; but, frankly, a Committee such as this is not the place to bring them out. I can none the less assure you that the evidence is pretty robust. It stands up to different ways of looking at it. We have done it through three separate data sets, all of which are nationally representative, so it is not just the quirks of one particular set. My general answer to the question is that we are as sure as we normally can be about making such statements.
Q328 <Mr. Stuart:> There is a lot of concern about diplomas. Someone from Edexcel or OCR said that they were the most complicated qualification that they had ever seen, and there is concern about the speed of implementation. What involvement do your members have with the new diplomas? Can you throw any light on their likely success or otherwise? The Committee is committed to seeing the diplomas succeed.
<Chris Parry:> With your licence, Chairman, may I put it on record that for various reasons we dispute the figures that you just heard about from Professor Green?
<Chairman:> On record.
<Chris Parry:> Diplomas are a new initiative. Our members are looking at the moment to see where they would apply. We have some capacity for innovative thinking and taking the initiative. You know that we are looking at Cambridge Pre-U, international baccalaureate and a lot of other things, including diplomas, to see how they might fit in. They may be suitable for some schools, but you are right that they are a complex mix of practical and academic subjects. Some schools have indicated that they would welcome the content and curriculum of some diplomas. We would like to see how they bed in with some of our other qualifications, but most schools have indicated that the classic GCSE, iGCSE and A-level provision remains at the moment a benchmark off which they do not want to wander unless they see the tangible benefits of going into the diplomas.
Q329 <Mr. Stuart:> On joining partnerships, diplomas are not being delivered by single institutions. Are some of your members joining in with other schools, perhaps in the maintained sector, to deliver them?
<Chris Parry:> They are exploring the possibilities with those schools and further education colleges. The biggest problem at the moment is the 10-day practical requirement, which means that people will need to move around quite a bit. We are exploring it. We are adopting a positive approach and seeing when it can benefit our individual schools.
<Chairman:> That was a very interesting session. We have appreciated your answers to our questions, Professor Green and Chris Parry, so thank you. We will continue this inquiry, so if you did not get the chance to answer fully some of our questions or if there are question that we should have asked but did not, please contact the Committee.
<Chris Parry:> I will pass you the data that you want.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Patrick Derham, Headmaster, Rugby School, and Stephen Patriarca, Headmaster William Hulme's Grammar School, Manchester, gave evidence.
<Chairman:> Welcome. Sorry for the bit of overrun on that first session, but these things happen. I am glad that you could make it. I hear that you had a delay on your train, Stephen.
<Stephen Patriarca:> Not too bad.
Q330 <Chairman:> You are here anyway. Both of you heard that previous session. We are looking at what the independent sector can bring the overall education performance of our country in terms of diversity. Do you have anything to say about that?
<Stephen Patriarca:> Having heard most of the first session, the first observation that I would make is that I did not recognise some descriptions of the independent sector from my experience of nearly 30 years within it. I spent 23 years at Hulme Grammar School in Oldham and since 2000 I have been principal at William Hulme's Grammar School in Manchester. Since last September, that school has been a city academy. It struck me that the character and dimension of schools such as those and other northern grammar schools, including the Bury grammar schools, is very different from some of the assumptions that one might build from a knowledge, for example, of southern public schools.
It struck me forcibly, living in Oldham, that the riots and the problems that we had in the town were deeply rooted in the educational issues in the town. Having worked and lived in Oldham all those years, I was very sensitive to the concerns that people had about underachievement, particularly in the ethnic minority populations. That is why in my school, given the stark choices that we faced when the assisted places scheme finished-of becoming an independent school and going for the stockbroker belt or somehow trying to maintain our inner-city catchment-the academy decision, the academy project, was of enormous value to us and, I hope, to the city of Manchester as well.
Q331 <Chairman:> We will drill down on that in a moment, Steve.
Patrick, it is always a problem when you have a representative of a sort of trade association in front of you. It is a difficult thing that a person sitting in that seat is doing, because he is answering for an amalgam of 1,200-plus schools, but you two have real knowledge of particular institutions, so that is what we will really value from this session. Did you get that feeling of unreality-that we were talking about your schools in a way that was not quite in touch with the reality of the situation?
<Patrick Derham:> No, not at all. The most important point that came across is the huge diversity in the independent sector and how difficult it is to generalise from a particular school or viewpoint. I have been headmaster of a large day school just outside Birmingham-Solihull-and I am now headmaster of Rugby. Those are two very different sorts of school, but there are huge similarities between them. Certainly from our perspective, the original invitation was for me to come and talk to you about our commitment to widening access and the changes that we have made to our scholarship scheme. If I may, I shall put this in context for you. I shall briefly give some background to the school and perhaps say a little bit about my own story, which I think is important to understanding Rugby's commitment in this area.
With 785 pupils, the school is fully co-educational and although 20% of the pupils are day pupils because of our founding commitment to the local community, many people would see Rugby as the leading co-educational boarding school in the country. However, the key point is that Rugby has been committed to widening access since its foundation. It was established in 1567 by Lawrence Sheriff, who was purveyor of spices to Queen Elizabeth I, as a free grammar school, chiefly for the boys of Rugby and Brownsover. Through that original Lawrence Sheriff bequest, we continue to offer local children means-tested awards of up to 100% and help with extras. That is for anybody who lives within 10 miles of the chapel bell, which is a peculiarity of our statutes. Currently, we have 44 pupils who are supported in that way. We also provide endowment to the boys free grammar school within Rugby, which the school started in the 1870s. So Rugby's founding tradition of widening access is integral to our approach, but my own story is important, too.
For me, social mobility is not an abstract concept. I was a boy on board the training ship Arethusa, which was run by The Shaftesbury Homes, and I was destined to join the Navy at the age of 16. When the ship unexpectedly closed down in 1974, charitable support enabled me to be sent away to an independent boarding school, Pangbourne College. That opportunity transformed my life, and that experience has given me a passionate belief in the transformational power of education. It has been a driving force behind some recent initiatives that we have pioneered, aimed at sharing Rugby education as widely as possible.
I shall give some brief examples. In 2004, we were the first school to restrict scholarships to 10%, and at the same time we made them augmentable to 100%, subject to means-testing, so money was being diverted where it was needed. I have already mentioned the Lawrence Sheriff bequest and the bursaries for day pupils, but in 2003 we established the Arnold Foundation for Rugby School to give the same opportunities to boarding pupils. The foundation offers 100% support with fees and extras to pupils who have all-round ability, but most importantly a real need for boarding.
To help to find those who would benefit most from that, we have established pioneering links with charities in inner cities. I will mention just two. One, which I suspect many of you will have heard of, is Eastside Young Leaders Academy, and the other is Into University. Both are London-based. I will be happy to talk more about those in a moment. We currently have 20 Arnold Foundation pupils fully supported in the school-since the first boys and girls came, in 2004, 28 have benefited.
Coincidentally, tomorrow we are celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Arnold Foundation. We will be announcing plans to raise £30 million, which will enable us to increase the number of Arnold Foundation pupils in the school to 40 over the course of the next decade. That will contribute to our overall aim and target, that 10% of the school should be funded, either through the Lawrence Sheriff bequest or through the Arnold Foundation. I think that we have learned some interesting and useful lessons about widening access in the work that we have done, which I would be happy to share with you.
I have concentrated on bursaries, but there are other ways of improving links to the maintained sector, and it was interesting to listen to the earlier conversation. I would be happy to talk about two areas where we have direct experience. One is partnership and outreach work, which we are doing, but also our involvement in curriculum development, which might be of interest to the Committee.
<Chairman:> We will drill down on those areas in a moment.
Q332 <Fiona Mactaggart:> I was really interested to hear your progress in widening access, Patrick. One of things that I was wondering about was whether you had put in place any mechanisms to help those pupils there on scholarships and so on not to be seen as the odd ones out, socially and so on. I remember the students in Pimlico School who got there on music scholarships-a public, maintained school-being called by their fellows the melons. They were a completely socially separate group. I wonder what you have done about that in Rugby.
<Patrick Derham:> One of the key lessons to making it work is that there has to be a real commitment. That is partly shaped by my own experience, of course. I was taken from a completely different environment and put into a school, which was like going to a different planet. I was very mindful of that. What we have done is work with these charities, which deal with the very real issues of underachievement and social exclusion. They help to identify people, but also provide pastoral support in the holidays, which is important.
The pastoral relationship in the school is crucial. One of the great strengths of the independent sector is the amount of time and effort that we put into pastoral work. However, the boys and girls who come in on our Arnold Foundation have two additional tutorial support as well. What is also important is the whole family experience-we have a parent mentor, who works closely with the parents to help demystify the whole process. It was interesting that you mentioned that, because we have recently been inspected and one of our Arnold Foundation parents wrote to the reporting inspector, completely unprompted. I thought it would be relevant to read this little bit, given what you said:
"My daughter has never felt uncomfortable in telling her peers that she is an Arnold foundation pupil, and has actually received positive comments from other pupils about it. I have been very impressed with this, as I know of other schools in which parents and children in receipt of a bursary have been anxious to ensure that other pupils and parents do not know about it. I believe that it is Rugby school's obvious pride in the Arnold foundation and the way in which the school has given the foundation a relatively high profile which helps to foster this openness."
To me, that is crucial. There is not a problem with them integrating.
I am sorry to be giving you such a long answer. Again, picking up on something that Chris was saying earlier about the diversity of the sector, mythology surrounds a school like Rugby-but it is a remarkably broad church. There is no homogeneity to the pupil or parent bodies. An awful lot of our parents are making enormous sacrifices to pay the fees. We are very conscious and mindful of that. That makes it work. Coming back to where I started, there has to be a commitment from the school to make this work, if that is the line that they want to go down. Of course, it has to be what is right for each individual school.
Q333 <Fiona Mactaggart:> Have any of your colleagues in the sector asked you about how they could model or develop a similar approach? I have not heard the same enthusiasm from the ISC, for example, or other schools.
<Patrick Derham:> Yes. Schools are increasingly aware of what we are doing. What is important and what I say to them is that they have to believe in it. They must be doing it for the right reasons, and not to satisfy what they might see as the public benefit test. Ours predates it by years, as you heard in my opening statement. Schools are talking to us, and we are very happy to share that experience and the other lessons that we have learnt. The crucial thing is finding the right pupils who will benefit, and that has been the benefit of working with charities that are dealing with the real issues of social inclusion and underachievement. That has been enormously satisfying, and a corollary to that is my becoming a trustee of one of the charities, which has strengthened the link and is an immensely rewarding part of my job.
Q334 <Fiona Mactaggart:> Stephen, how has your school changed as its status has changed?
<Stephen Patriarca:> The most obvious change is that it is increasing in size. It is primarily a matter of finance to ensure that the school is viable in the long term and that we can offer the curricular richness that we wish to do. That has been very effective. Other than that, it is quite difficult to pinpoint a significant change in the sense that we have been able to achieve a continuity of values.
You must remember that we are only in the very early stages. We are in the first year. I am not complacent; I am aware that it will be a struggle to maintain those values, but it can be done. The most obvious value is aspiration. Our parents are aspirational. If you have 880 applicants for 75 places, there is immediately among parents a sense of achievement if the child is admitted, even though the choice is made pretty much at random, through the banding and so on. There is still a very strong spirit of independence, and that is what I picked up from the earlier session and what is relevant now. Again, it is where I do not fully see the two sectors in the way that some of the earlier descriptions have suggested. I am not sure that the reality on the ground-certainly in areas like Manchester-is that there are two such divisive sectors. That is not my experience of working there over time. It is certainly not the case with the academies movement coming in with the independent state schools.
As for the philosophy of independence, you are as independent as the principal of an academy is robust enough to be. There is strong aspiration for children and teachers, and the commitment to breadth is part of the independent sector DNA. For example, we have kept our combined cadet force, our Duke of Edinburgh scheme and our outdoor pursuit centre at Hardraw in Yorkshire. Children go in forms on a bonding weekend or session each year. We can sustain those values at the moment. I see no reason why we cannot sustain them as the school grows fully into an academy.
Q335 <Fiona Mactaggart:> The thing that I have heard from you that is most different from what I heard from at least one of our previous witnesses is that neither of you seems to feel bullied by anyone. Both of you seem to be confident in what you are doing; the stuff that the Government are doing or other schools are doing is not getting in your way and you think that you are doing it well. Have I got that right, or is someone doing something that you do not like, bullying you and getting in your way?
<Stephen Patriarca:> The period of working through the academy's project was a period of-bullying would be too strong a word-a good deal of robust debate and discussion. That was because nationally the template for academies was based on the previous model, which was the failing school being brought into the academies movement or reconstructed as an academy. We were very lucky in that we could see some models like the CTCs that were transferred to academy status. For example, we worked closely with Dr. Sidwell who was overseeing the Haberdashers' academies in south-east London. They were much more like us, whereas CTCs had become an academy replacing "a failing school". Naturally, with those templates and a bureaucracy in place that did not fit us, we were struggling, but we had huge support from the Minister downwards-right through the Department, through our advisers and other people in the movement. I think we have made it easier for our successors and that other schools coming into the programme from our background will find it easier as a consequence of the lessons we have learned.
<Patrick Derham:> We do not feel bullied and that is not arrogant or complacent; we are just confident in what we are doing. I spoke to Dame Suzi Leather-I was asked to talk to her before the second draft guidelines came out-and the point was made that there is some nervousness in the sector. It is difficult for me to generalise about the sector because of the lack of clarity about what is going to happen. There is a worry that there will be a one-size-fits-all approach. There has to be an element of proportionality and Chris made that point well in the first session. It is very different for schools such as Rugby. You cannot generalise from a microcosmic example and say that that is the right way; there are lots of different ways of achieving public benefit or of working with the maintained sector. This just happens to be the approach that we have adopted and that we think is right. Certainly, at no point have we ever felt bullied. We have felt very supported and people have been very interested in what we are doing-within Government and in educational circles.
Q336 <Chairman:> There seemed to be a lot of language in the previous session about the cold war, ideology and bullying. You were both running schools in the system for, as you said, over 30 years, and did not recognise that sort of language. I was surprised at that kind of language.
<Stephen Patriarca:> May I give you a specific example of that? During the project we decided to join the United Learning Trust, which came in as our educational sponsors. The United Learning Trust's sister organisation is the new United Church Schools Trust, which is made up of a number of leading independent schools. When we meet as principals, we meet both sectors-UCST and ULT principals meet termly to discuss educational issues. We have discussed year 7 curriculum and transitional issues from year 6 to year 7 in a room with 50% independent school heads and 50% academy principals. I do not notice any division or any kind of artificial barrier; quite the contrary-we have a lively, dynamic discussion as a consequence of the so-called two sectors coming together. I simply do not think it is true that leaders from both sectors are not in dialogue; they are in dialogue at a national and local level.
Q337 <Mr. Chaytor:> Could I ask both of our witnesses whether they think that parents who pay fees to independent schools should get tax relief on their fees?
<Stephen Patriarca:> That is a political issue that I am entitled to answer as an individual. However, if you are asking me to speak as a principal on behalf of my school or the movement, obviously I do not have a view. My personal view is that I can see the argument for it.
Q338 <Mr. Chaytor:> Would it be to the advantage of the education system as a whole in the UK if that policy were introduced?
<Stephen Patriarca:> From the academy perspective, I cannot see that it would make any difference to us.
<Mr. Chaytor:> I am asking you to look outside the academies. That is why I am looking to you to answer as well as Patrick.
<Stephen Patriarca:> I suppose that if you push me for an answer, I would say that anything that puts more money into the educational system and the education of children-whether it is put into the public or private sector-is valuable because in the end that money benefits all our children.
Q339 <Mr. Chaytor:> But that would not put more money in, would it?
<Stephen Patriarca:> Well, yes it would because you are freeing up resources that parents are otherwise committing to school fees, which would strengthen the voluntary sector. When I was an independent school head, I would have found it much easier to go to my parents and ask for extra money for my outdoor pursuits centre or for the bursary fund to help underprivileged children and so on if they were spending less on school fees. That is common sense. Those are value judgements.
<Mr. Chaytor:> The answer is yes.
<Stephen Patriarca:> The answer is I can see the argument that that would liberate resources.
Q340 <Mr. Chaytor:> If tax relief would encourage more parents to pay fees, and getting more money into the system as a whole is an advantage, then the answer is presumably yes.
<Stephen Patriarca:> Well, no. The answer is I can see the argument for it, but whether it is yes or no would depend on all sorts of other demands on the Exchequer, which are not within my remit.
<Patrick Derham:> That is the answer to the question: there are arguments both ways. It is a political issue and I do not think that my views will influence it.
Q341 <Mr. Chaytor:> Could I ask Stephen about charitable status? On the issue of bursaries and scholarships, do you think, from your point of view now, that it would be valuable for independent schools to comply with the Charity Commission's guideline primarily by increasing the number of, essentially, assisted places? And would that be in the interest of your school now?
<Stephen Patriarca:> Again, my perspective comes from the north-west. I am still associate member-or additional member-of HMC, so I have a lot of contact with independent school heads in the north-west. My experience is that almost all the charitable support that they give with fees is means-tested on a bursary basis. There are not many of the old northern grammar schools-now independent-that are giving scholarships that are not means-tested. Virtually all their resources are bursarial. That has been very much my background and that was how we worked when we were fee-paying. I think that you are preaching to the converted. In the northern grammar schools sector, we were already giving the absolute maximum that we possibly could with the bursary.
Q342 <Mr. Chaytor:> What I am saying is that, leaving aside geography, if an expansion of assisted places were the means by which more schools would be in compliance with the new guidelines, would you argue for an expansion of assisted places into independent schools?
<Stephen Patriarca:> When you say assisted places, you are not referring to the assisted places scheme, but you are talking about something else. Is that right?
<Mr. Chaytor:> I am talking about bursaries, which as far as I can see are indistinguishable from the old assisted places scheme.
<Stephen Patriarca:> Except that bursaries are not funded by the state, are they?
Q343 <Mr. Chaytor:> No, but it would be a means of obtaining the 17.5% VAT. Let us use "assisted places" as a loose term. Would you want to see an expansion of bursaries as a means of complying with the new Charity Commission's guidelines?
<Stephen Patriarca:> Again, in my experience and that of the heads I know, independent schools devote as much of their resources to bursaries as they are able to. I think that that is already the case. I do not know anybody in the sector who is not committed to widening access in that way. Obviously in highly selective academic schools those bursaries are also related to ability, but there are plenty of independent schools with very broad-based academic entry that are offering the maximum number of bursaries they can. I think that it is a bit of a myth that that there are these pots of money sitting around.
Q344 <Mr. Chaytor:> If they are giving as much as they can then presumably they are in compliance with the guidelines.
<Stephen Patriarca:> Well, exactly. I would expect that to be the case.
<Patrick Derham:> Bursaries are just one way of doing it, that is the whole point. It goes back to what I said earlier about proportionality and the difficulty of generalising across the sector. What schools like ours are doing is just one way of doing it. We happen to believe in it. It goes right the way back and is part of our DNA back to the 16th century, so for us it is very important. I am involved with and know other schools well, and they will approach it differently because it may not be practical. It comes down to a question of resources within that school.
All our fundraising now is devoted to providing those opportunities for people who otherwise could not benefit from a boarding education. That was our decision. It is not for us to say that that is what other schools should do; it is what we think is right and proper in the 21st century. I would not dream of suggesting that my colleagues should adopt the same approach. The interesting thing will be when we see on 11 July the next stage of the process. We just need to see a bit more clarity as to what schools need to do. There cannot be one size fits all.
Q345 <Mr. Chaytor:> I know nothing about the situation in Rugby. What is your assessment of the impact on the wider educational network in Rugby of having a hugely privileged long-established and high-achieving independent school in the area? What is the impact of bursaries on the intake of other schools and the overall levels of achievement for young people in Rugby as a whole?
<Patrick Derham:> The great thing about Rugby is that there is a great deal of choice. There are two grammar schools-a boys' grammar school and a girls' grammar school-which are highly selective, as well as some very good maintained schools and ourselves. The thing that has really delighted me is the very close working relationship that we have with my colleagues. We do some fantastic partnership work with local schools and we learn a great deal from them as they do from us. It is very much a two-way partnership, which we have been involved with since 2003. We are benefiting from each other.
Of course, as a school in a town, outreach and partnership is much easier for us than for a lot of schools in the independent sector which are not in that position. For us, on a Thursday afternoon when we do our outreach work, it is much more straightforward because everything is within walking distance. The maintained schools in Rugby are all within walking distance. That has been one of the strengths of our partnership work-that we are so close to each and can share things much more easily. In a sense, we have benefited from each other; we can still learn.
Q346 <Mr. Chaytor:> Is your assessment that the divide that we have-a divide between two sectors, and the emergence of a third sector trying to bridge that divide through academies and trust schools-is an ideal way of organising a national education system? If we were starting from scratch with a blank sheet of paper, would you argue that the existing structure of 7% of pupils in the independent sector and 93% in the state sector and an emerging quasi-independent sector is the best means of raising national levels of attainment across the board? Or are there other models that would more effectively do that? That is a question to you both.
<Stephen Patriarca:> I would have thought that the UK was unusual in that respect. There are many European models with a greater diversity of provision which we ought to be looking at. One of the great strengths of the academies movement is that it has broken down the divide, because it no longer makes sense to think of all independent schools as being fee paying. Clearly academies, as independent state schools, are not fee-paying. So you are beginning to enrich that provision, to increase the diversity of provision. But what we also ought to be doing is looking at diversity of funding, much on the European model, so that you break down the barriers further. My experience, certainly of working in cities such as Manchester and in the south Manchester area, is that there is very much a community across the so-called sectors. If you have an issue that you can get assistance with from an independent school, you might pick up the phone and talk to someone at Manchester grammar school, or if you needed some help from another academy you would talk to someone at Manchester academy or another academy. My staff all have e-mail contact with their equivalents in at least one other academy and one of the leading independent schools. That is just how we work.
<Patrick Derham:> That is a very difficult question because it is so theoretical, and schools have such long history and tradition. But of course the basic principle is that parents have a choice, and I think that they exercise that choice for all the reasons that Chris mentioned in the earlier session. I just back up what Stephen has said. The divide is not there for us; we work very closely to the benefit of both types of school.
<Mr. Chaytor:> But-
<Chairman:> David, I will bring you back in. Paul.
Q347 <Paul Holmes:> You have already mentioned the independent/state school partnerships. Ofsted pointed out in 2005 that those partnerships seemed to be fairly successful but that not many schools had taken part. Why did you take part?
<Patrick Derham:> Principally, because we felt that it would be of great benefit to us. We went into it as a genuine partnership between schools in the maintained sector and ourselves. Principally, we were looking at science, maths and ICT, and it was very much putting things on for teachers and technicians as well as pupils. Our pupils were acting as mentors and pupils from other schools were acting as mentors. We taught some maths to a local maintained school year 11 class and did mentoring in that way. We learned a great deal. It was a two-way process. We felt that it was important for us to play our role in the local community. It was based very much on my experience in Solihull, when I was headmaster there and we had enrichment classes for all the primary schools in the borough on Saturday mornings, again because I felt that it was important to provide that stretch and challenge, which my colleagues felt we could give. It has been a huge benefit to us, and we are continuing to work with it in those areas.
In recent years, we have run a management and leadership conference for all year 12 pupils in Rugby. That is 600 pupils, and it is fantastic. Again, we think it is important and we want to make it work. Certainly, my experience, talking to colleagues involved with it, is that the benefits would be very much along the lines of what I said-that it is a genuine partnership and that both sectors can learn from each other.
Q348 <Paul Holmes:> Do you have one or two specific examples of what you have learned from the maintained sector?
<Patrick Derham:> It is very specific things in terms of the approach to teaching. We are very interested in creative teaching and independent learning, and we have learned a great deal from our colleagues about certain approaches in both science and IT. So there will be benefits in terms of teacher collaboration in that way-and, again, for technicians, of ways of working-and of pupils talking to each other. Yes, in very practical ways there have been benefits. It is all part of demystifying and breaking down the barriers, which are not as stark with us as they clearly are in other parts of the country.
Q349 <Paul Holmes:> I have a question about diversity, which you both mentioned in different ways. In Rugby, Mr. Derham, you said that your school, which is a fee-paying school, takes some of the best local kids on bursaries, and that you have grammar schools and so forth. What about the schools at the bottom of the pecking order in Rugby that do not take grammar school or fee-paying kids? How do they get on in this diverse system?
<Patrick Derham:> We have a partnership scheme with one of them, and we work very closely with them.
May I correct one point? We do not cream off the best pupils locally. That is just what we do not do under the original Lawrence Sheriff bequest. With grammar school entry, if children are successful in the 11-plus, a lot of their parents will obviously go down that route, which is absolutely right. That is parental choice, but at no point are we looking to cream off the best pupils locally.
Q350 <Paul Holmes:> But to whom do you give bursaries? I presume that people sit an entrance exam.
<Patrick Derham:> Yes, they do. It is clearly academically selective, but the entry is to a much broader church. I think that you would be surprised. We work very hard to provide the opportunity to as many people as possible, and we work hard with them when they are in the school.
Q351 <Paul Holmes:> I presume that there are schools in Rugby that do not get the grammar school entrants, your bursary kids or the fee-paying kids, and they will have a more difficult job. The Ridings School in Halifax, which was famous, was right at the bottom of the pecking order. The grammar schools and all sorts of other public schools around took all the best kids, and the Ridings School had all the problems-and it is now to be closed. Are there examples like that in Rugby?
<Patrick Derham:> One school has just been closed because of a falling roll. The other schools are doing well, and we work with them.
Q352 <Paul Holmes:> Stephen, you mentioned diversity and having partnerships and links with independent schools and academies. What about?
<Stephen Patriarca:> You made a very interesting point-one that we are clear about in Manchester. Probably the most obvious example locally of a school that was seriously struggling was the predecessor school to what is now Manchester Academy. That school was regarded as one of the five worst schools in the country, by whatever criteria inspectors have for making such decisions. As an academy, it has improved dramatically. Attendance went from 50% to 90% in year 11. HMI reports say that standard teaching and learning are satisfactory or good, and there is a big improvement in GCSE results. That surely is an example of a school that was failing having come into the community as an academy; it is now working alongside us and other schools in the area with a spirit of independence. It is an incredible commitment to, and aspiration for, children in the most difficult circumstances. The student population is transient, with a lot of asylum seekers and a huge ethnic mix and so on-very much like ours.
That example addresses your point. Working as a group, whether formally in a sort of partnership, as in Rugby, or perhaps less formally in a mixed environment with the independent and academy sector and so on, as in Manchester, you can support schools that have those challenges.
Q353 <Paul Holmes:> One criticism levelled at academies is that they do not, as is claimed, always lead to a dramatic improvement in performance, as exam results and Ofsted show. You gave the example of your school becoming an academy, which now has 880 applicants for 75 places. So, obviously, you are attracting the aspirational parents. You also have a banding system, but you are taking 75 of the most aspirational families and pupils out of those who apply. Manchester Academy is also very oversubscribed. Which schools in the area are not getting those aspirational parents?
<Stephen Patriarca:> Sorry, just to correct you, I do not think that Manchester Academy is oversubscribed, although it is a good deal more popular than its predecessor school. It still has developments to make, but its achievements have been huge on any criteria. Our parents are a genuine mix. Clearly, whole year 6s from local junior schools are being encouraged to apply to our school, so you have whole classes applying and going through the banding system. It would be slightly disingenuous to say that that means that all the parents are aspirational-they are no more aspirational than any other parents. What I think does make a difference is that they get a sense of commitment to the school when the child gets a place, because obviously they are aware of the competition for places.
Q354 <Paul Holmes:> When it is produced, I think that the record will show that you said that you were getting aspirational pupils and parents-I think that you used those words.
That leads on to my final question, which takes us back to a point discussed with the previous panel: the DNA of schools such as yours. Lord Adonis said, "We want to extract the DNA of the independent sector and apply it to the maintained sector." I have listened very carefully over the past couple of hours, and, as far as I can see, the DNA that we are talking about applying to the state sector, in which I taught for 22 years, would involve doubling funding for the state sector, halving class sizes, paying teachers more, giving them longer holidays and being more academically and socially selective. What others bits of the DNA should we transfer?
<Stephen Patriarca:> Well, again, I would not recognise much of that-
<Chairman:> Can I give Patrick a chance to answer?
<Patrick Derham:> I am not sure that I heard all that being expressed quite in that way in the first session. To me, it is absolutely clear what makes a greater and more successful school, in whatever sector: the importance placed on leadership, aspiration and values. It is crucial that we have the independence that Chris was talking about over things such as curriculum. It is crucial that we can choose what we think is right and appropriate for our pupils, based obviously on the national curriculum-national curriculum plus, if you like. Obviously, it is important to have control over admissions. Discipline is also a key issue with our pupils. That comes back to a concept that is very difficult to define: the ethos of a school, which is crucial to its success. That comes from a clear sense of vision and the educational values underpinning it.
Q355 <Paul Holmes:> So, you are saying that the leadership and ethos is most important, not the class sizes of 14 or the massively increased financial resources that Professor Green talked about.
<Patrick Derham:> No, I am adding to the list that you gave. It is a mixture of all those things. I was fortunate to be involved in a conference in America in 1992 where we looked at educational systems in countries just coming out of communism. We spent four days discussing what makes a great school. At the end of that, it came down to that word "ethos", which crossed national boundaries, however you wanted to define it. The school had to have that clear sense of vision. Obviously, the other factors that you highlighted will pay a part, but you asked me for things in addition to what you listed.
Q356 <Mr. Stuart:> Following on from that, Professor Green was convinced that the only reason for the improved performance in the independent sector was additional resources. For whatever reason, he did not see that the ethos and other elements were the key contributing factors. Is that because he is uniquely blind, or is there evidence to show that that ethos and leadership adds value over and above the points that have just been picked up? Otherwise, it is an assertion, rather than evidence. There is anecdotal evidence. When William Hague was Secretary of State for Wales, he looked at the school tables-another controversial subject-and saw that some schools went up the table rapidly. He would always ask what had brought about the difference and would be told that there was a new head teacher and that it was down to leadership. Is there something about the independence of the academies programme that encourages better leadership and encourages leaders to come to the fore?
<Stephen Patriarca:> Some of that comes back to the point about independence that we spoke about earlier. It is also related to the extra-curricular dimension that is so strong in the independent sector. One of the surprises that I had when we joined the maintained sector was how fewer state schools had Saturday morning fixtures, for example. We have now mixed some of our fixtures with the state sector and some with the independent sector, and that is routine for us. Probably 25% of my staff expect to be in on Saturday mornings supporting school sport, to be there in the evenings running practices or the CCF, or to spend weekends in term time running the Duke of Edinburgh's award scheme. When you are working with children, particularly in an inner-city environment such as south Manchester, that is hugely valuable, because clearly when children are involved in structured extra-curricular activity, they are being kept off the streets and away from the kind of environment that is so threatening.
<Chairman:> Graham, would you be indulgent for just a second? I want to call David for a quick supplementary question because he has to leave to ask the Prime Minister a question. I shall come straight back to you.
Q357 <Mr. Chaytor:> Chairman, I am very grateful. I happened to come out of the hat for Prime Minister's questions today.
I just want to pick up on the issue that I asked about earlier and to respond to Patrick Derham's point about choice in all schools, particularly independent schools. Although we operate within the context of the rhetoric of parental choice, surely the reality in all independent schools is that it is the school that decides. All parents in Rugby might wish or aspire to send their children to Rugby school, but Rugby school may choose not to admit all those pupils. Is that not the central issue?
<Patrick Derham:> But the same argument applies to the grammar schools in the maintained sector.
Q358 <Mr. Chaytor:> Of course. I am just challenging your assumption that we are all operating within a context of parental choice. Surely we are operating within a situation of institution choice.
<Patrick Derham:> Well, yes. One of the key aspects of the independent sector is that we have control over admissions and can set our own clear and transparent policy on whatever the academic standard happens to be. That is absolutely right, and I am not disputing that.
Q359 <Mr. Chaytor:> Stephen, your decision for your school to become an academy has been linked to your choice to go for specialist school status in languages, so you have the capacity to select 10% for languages. Is that 10% selection sufficient to maintain the ethos that you referred to earlier? I think that you said in your opening statement that it would be difficult to maintain the ethos, given your new status. What is the cut-off point, and to what extent can you be an open-access school and still aspire to the ethos that you had when you were a reasonably high-end selective school?
<Stephen Patriarca:> On maintaining the ethos, my point was that we are not complacent. Clearly, I think that it can be done, but it has to be worked at-one must not be glib about that. With regard to the 10% MFL selection, I frankly do not think that it is relevant or that it has any significant impact on pupil ethos at all. I also think that pupils who are in the lowest academic band are just as likely to enthuse and work with the school as those in the highest, and I could give you stacks of anecdotal examples of that. I think that the issue is about not academic ability, but how you induct pupils when they come to the school, get them to sign up to that community and get the parents to do the same.
As far as MFL is concerned, we were aware that it was an issue in Manchester and that there was a problem with language teaching, and well under 20% of pupils across the state sector achieved a GCSE in languages. I happen to think that that is a terrible thing for the future of this country, so I have a personal commitment. I am not a linguist, but I felt and judged that that was important. I do not know whether the FL test will be significant. We have only done it for one year. I am monitoring that and we will monitor the pupils over a period of years. I am very happy for this Committee to have the results of that pilot. We are using an American university's aptitude test. It does not simply take from the top band. Interestingly, two of the pupils who did very well on that aptitude test were in the lowest ability band on the reasoning test.
Q360 <Mr. Stuart:> A good school normally has well motivated, happy teachers who are able to deliver good education for their pupils. What is it about academies that will make it more likely that we will retain teachers-we are losing so many at the moment-and motivate them better and thus have happier, more secure and better educated pupils?
<Stephen Patriarca:> It is two things, fundamentally. There is the community and ethos issue that I talked about, which obviously teachers need to be part of, and then there is the flexibility and independence in how you employ and deploy them.
Q361 <Mr. Stuart:> So do you have worries about policy going forward? There seems to be increasing local authority sponsorship of academies and greater requirements to adhere to the national curriculum. Do you fear that freedom, which is the essence of being able to deliver that, may be constricted by policy?
<Stephen Patriarca:> Some of those decisions do not apply retrospectively to academies where the principles are already enshrined in their funding agreement. In terms of issues such as the national curriculum, quite honestly I cannot see what the controversy is. We would want to deliver the core subjects of the national curriculum anyway. If it becomes more prescriptive than that, I would have a problem, but I do not have a problem with it as it is.
Q362 <Mr. Stuart:> I have a quick question for Patrick. Anthony Seldon said that all independent schools should sponsor an academy. Was he right? Why are you not doing that?
<Patrick Derham:> I am going back to how I answered an earlier question. It is just one way of reaching out and doing very good work. I have no problem with it at all. It is not right for everybody. Rugby has always believed in the principle of integration, right back to 1567. We think that we can do much more by pupils benefiting from being at the school and from the resources and support that they get from us, and from the knock-on consequences of them being positive role models back in their communities. That is what the charities have said to us about pupils.
We seriously looked at the academies programme, but again we felt that if were to get involved, it would have to be something within Rugby. The success of our partnership work has been because we are so close together and have strong working relationships. We are not sponsoring an academy because we feel that within our resources our priorities are elsewhere, but we are fully supportive of our colleagues who are involved in that.
Q363 <Chairman:> Patrick, do you or your staff spend any time exchanging with teachers and heads in the state sector? A school like yours is extremely well endowed, although perhaps it is like my old school, which dates back to a similar time and was originally funded for the education of poor Christian souls, although no longer. I am sure that many people in the state sector would look at your school and say if you could not teach these kids and get good results, you should be dragged out into the street and shot. They come from supportive backgrounds and you test them before admission. It is a very special environment, is it not? Do you think it would be a good idea for your staff to spend one or two weeks a year teaching in a state school with a very different kind of clientele?
<Patrick Derham:> We have a policy of such things if staff want to do it, but it is finding the time to make it work. We have a lot of contact with our colleagues in the maintained sector through what we are doing already. I agree that it is not the same as doing a one or two-week exchange. We are doing quite a lot in that area, so we learn things from them and they learn from us. The idea is interesting.
Q364 <Chairman:> Steve, did you ever have any of that sort of experience? Did you go into a state school for a week, imbibe the atmosphere there and give advice to the head?
<Stephen Patriarca:> Not personally, but there is a good deal of interaction with the staff.
<Chairman:> Okay. This has been a very interesting and informative session. Please maintain contact with the Committee. We will very pleased if you reflect on what you have been asked-and have not been asked. If you want to help us make our inquiry better than it otherwise would be, we should be grateful for your communication.
<Patrick Derham:> I will certainly write to you about the curriculum, which I am sorry that we did not have a chance to talk about.
<Chairman:> As you know, we are moving on to a separate inquiry into the curriculum. We would value your assistance.
<Patrick Derham:> Thank you very much.