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A letter from the Heads of Trent College and its junior school, The Elms, has been used in the House of Lords in response to proposals to amend the Charities Bill and the possible impact that would have on schools in the independent sector.
The letter, signed by Mr Bill Penty and Mr Keith Morrow, was read by Erewash MP, Maggie Throup, after the Heads had written to her expressing their concerns with plans to introduce legislation requiring independent schools to work with state schools on specific, determined projects, primarily based on sharing facilities.
The move to amend the Charities (protection and social investment) Bill was rejected in the face of opposition in Parliament earlier this month, with Barnaby Lenon, Independent Schools Council (ISC) Chair, warning it would be a “catastrophe” for existing, long-standing partnerships between independent and state schools.
In their letter Mr Penty and Mr Morrow detailed how their schools are already involved in numerous projects, working with local charities to widen public access to the schooling both schools provide and to optimise the educational use of the cultural and sporting facilities, while many local state schools and local community groups also benefit from using the facilities at both Trent College and The Elms.
And with Mr Lenon publicly committing to helping independent schools step-up the promotion of their partnerships with state-maintained schools in the wake of Labour’s bid, Mr Penty revealed further developing links and partnerships with local schools in the maintained sector is a key strand in their schools’ strategic plans.
Mr Penty said: “We strongly believe the current work being undertaken by ourselves and other independent schools in offering public benefit should be maintained without the need of government intervention and the addition of extra bureaucracy in what is, already, a sector burdened with red tape.
"We felt it important to write to Maggie Throup to detail the work being done by Trent College and The Elms, which benefits other local schools and the community as a whole across her constituency and indeed more widely.
“The proposed changes to the legislation would only serve to undo a lot of hard work, over many years, already put into fostering strong partnerships across the independent and state sectors and nurturing mutually beneficial collaboration locally. Forcing specific types of partnership working might, in fact, create barriers."
In the letter Mr Penty and Mr Morrow also warned against making assumptions that all independent schools are similar to the biggest public schools in terms of resources, and that some smaller independent schools, particularly standalone Prep Schools, do not share the facilities enjoyed by The Elms and Trent College and have to share the facilities belonging to state academies and local councils.
Mr Morrow added: “There is a genuine enthusiasm across the independent sector as a whole to grow partnership work. It is important this work is allowed to continue at individual school level so as not to create division and resentment.”