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Private school fees may be paid by council

PUBLISHED: 16:34 12 August 2009 | UPDATED: 09:43 12 August 2010

A COUNCIL is investigating paying the fees of private school pupils if their parents have been made redundant during the recession.

A COUNCIL is investigating paying the fees of private school pupils if their parents have been made redundant during the recession.

Bromley portfolio holder for children and young people, Ernest Noad, said he would look into the legality of using government funding for schoolchildren who may otherwise have to move into mainstream education.

Councillor for Plaistow and Sundridge, Peter Morgan, claims the scheme would not cost the council anything and would in fact relieve the borough's schools from accepting pupils whose parents can no longer afford to keep them in independent institutions.

He said: "A lot of children in Bromley are in private education. There is a worry that with the recession there might well be a significant number of people with children at private schools who can no longer afford to pay the fees.

"They would then have to join Bromley schools but most of the desirable ones are full.

"You would end up with people having to send their children right across the borough."

Asked if he thought the move would be unfair, with government cash being used to fund exclusive education, he said: "I can see some people adopting that envious attitude. But you could see it as unfair on these parents as they have been paying twice, by paying taxes and then by paying for private education."

Each school receives funding for pupils in the form of a Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) from the government which is an amount per pupil calculated by a number of factors including deprivation indices and unemployment figures for the borough.

Bromley receives a low DSG in comparison to other London boroughs, which works out at less than £3,000 a year per pupil.

But leader of the opposition for Bromley council, Liberal Democrat David McBride, criticised the idea.

He said: "It is a kick in the teeth to Bromley's teachers and schools that Peter Morgan is frightened to send children there.

"I would much rather see the money go to local authority schools than into private education. It could pay for advanced skills classes for children who were exceptionally bright.

"I don't believe there will be a mass exodus of children from private schools. I'm not saying the recession is over but anything as dramatic as that would probably have happened by now."

Figures from the Department for Children Schools and Families show that in January 2007 there were 3,880 Bromley youngsters, aged five to 18, in independent education.

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