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by Euro Reporter
2012-11-07 09:40:20
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Private school built in 1509 with fees of £10,000 a year to become free after number of pupils plummet

One of Britain’s oldest private schools is set to ditch its £10,000 annual fees and become a free school - blaming Britain's stuttering economy. Pupil numbers at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, in Blackburn, Lancashire, have plunged from 1,200 in 1997 to just 478 now as its head admitted today people just cannot afford to send their children. QEGS was founded in 1509 and given its royal charter nearly 60 years later by Queen Elizabeth I, but is now bidding to become a free school, funded by taxpayers.  Yesterday school leaders told staff, pupils and parents about their plans to apply for the change next year. The move has been criticised by union bosses as ‘a cynical move to get taxpayers to fund private education’ while concerns have been expressed on the impact on nearby schools which could lose pupils. 

Parents currently pay £10,236 per year in fees, with around 25 per cent of current students receiving some kind of bursary. If it becomes a free school the Government would pay £4,500 per pupil.  Headmaster Simon Corns said: 'The local economy is such that it’s becoming increasingly difficult, even for high earning parents, to afford fees for education and that got us thinking about how we can positively move forwards.  'This will allow more pupils to come to the school and receive an excellent education.  'Despite our exam successes, it’s down to economics.'

Mr Corns said if successful, the new status would take effect from September 2014 and the final entrance exam would take place in January 2013.  A decision is expected next Spring but fees would still be expected for the 2013/14 year.  'We plan to return to around 1,100 pupils, which we believe we will be able to do.  'It’s possible we will get some backlash. However, I don’t think many parents will have chosen the school because of its exclusivity.' Free schools were introduced by Education Secretary Michael Gove as part of his controversial schools shake-up.  They receive their payments directly from Government, but are not controlled by the local education authority.


Britain urged to take ‘immediate action’ on economy

The halfway point of any administration, when they are too far in to blame everything on the previous government, yet still not far along enough for their policies to have fully borne fruit, is always an interesting stage. Wednesday marks the halfway stage for the current U.K. government’s five-year term, and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is facing decidedly mixed feedback on his stewardship of the economy ahead of his so-called Autumn Statement next month, seen as an interim budget. The Conservative Party, the senior coalition partner, has traditionally been viewed as pro-business, but is coming under fire from businesses frustrated at the country’s second round of recession this year. The program of quantitative easing instituted by the Bank of England (BoE), and backed by the government, appears to be having less impact the further it advances, as BoE Governor Sir Mervyn King highlighted last month.

Economic indicators for industrial production in September and manufacturing and retail sales in October suggest that the outlook for growth remains weak, despite the U.K. moving out of recession in the third quarter of 2012. The job market has been one consistent bright spot for the country. Public sector borrowing figures indicate that as tax revenues have declined, public sector debt is likely to come in higher than expected for the first half of the fiscal year 2012-13 – even as growth has disappointed.

The effects of the much-vaunted “Funding for Lending” scheme, where U.K. banks are given access to cheap credit in the hope that it will be passed on to businesses, have yet to be felt. Economists at Goldman Sachs suggest a “Plan A-“ for the country. The alternative to Osborne’s “Plan A” would involve sticking to existing targets, and continuing plans to tighten fiscal policy, but allowing the debt target to slip. John Longworth, director general of business group the British Chambers of Commerce, said that the government “has been high on promises, but so far, low on delivery.” “Action needs to be taken immediately if we are to see the export-led recovery the government has been calling for, and investment in the U.K.’s crumbling infrastructure would allow businesses to transport their goods and people around the world.


Britain appoints top police chief to re-examine past inquiries into child abuse in north Wales

British lawmakers called Tuesday for a sweeping national inquiry into child abuse, amid mounting complaints that authorities for decades failed to properly examine allegations. Claims that renowned BBC children’s TV host Jimmy Savile abused hundreds of young people have prompted national debate, and led scores of adults to contact authorities about other, unrelated cases of sex offenses in the past. In the latest case, one victim of a major child abuse scandal in north Wales in the 1970s and 1980s has alleged that investigations failed to expose the true scope of the crimes, and declined to examine accusations against a senior political figure at the time.

Steve Messham, who is scheduled to meet a Cabinet minister to discuss his allegation, said that he hoped the former political figure — who has not been publicly identified except as a member of the Conservative Party — would eventually face arrest. “I would love to see him in court, I would love to see him in prison, he deserves it,” he told BBC radio. The BBC did not name the political figure, and no one connected at the time to the party has ever faced charges related to the abuse scandal.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who now leads the Conservatives, has ordered two separate investigations into the abuse cases in Wales. One — led by High Court judge Julia Wendy Macur — will review the work of a previous public inquiry into the scandal, while a second will focus on whether police failed to take seriously allegations made by young people. Home Secretary Theresa May said Tuesday that the head of the country’s National Crime Agency, Keith Bristow, would conduct the policing review. May said Bristow’s team would also examine new allegations reported to police about sex abuse in the past. However, with several inquiries already under way into Savile — including a police investigation, two internal reviews at the BBC and a study by the National Health Service into the TV presenter’s charity work at hospitals — some legislators called for a single national examination into how allegations of child abuse were handled in the past.

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Emanuel Paparella2012-11-07 17:11:26
Perhaps Finland has the better template when it comes to education: eliminate expensive private schools for the rich and make all schools public but equally good with good teachers in them.

Of course the rich may not like it since that was always the traditional stealth way by which their mediocre children entered top notch schools, via very expensive tuition for private schools. That is the way a George Bush, for example, with all Cs in the private school he attended ended up attending Yale University. They may not like it, but it surely would be more democratic to eliminate privileged private schools and establish equally good public schools. The global results are apparent in Finland.

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