My Lords, I fully recognise the contribution that independent schools make to our school system by reducing the cost to the taxpayer and providing wider support to our state system. I know, for instance, that independent schools provide more than £700 million a year in bursaryships and subsidised funding to their pupils. From my own experience, I was for many years a trustee at the Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy in Newham, where at any time we look after up to 100 black boys—and now, I am glad to say, some girls—who are on the edge of exclusion from school. We have now sent 90 scholars, as we call them, on full bursaryships to schools such as Rugby and many others, so I have seen the benefits that this has had. I am also aware of the many school partnerships that take place between the independent and state sectors—an excellent one being King’s College School, Wimbledon, where the pupils themselves visit primary schools on a Friday.
The Government funded the Schools Together website last year, which has more than 1,000 examples of co-operation between the independent and state sectors. We have also funded 20 independent/state school partnerships between those sectors, particularly to help the subjects being taught in primary schools. There is no doubt that many independent schools already provide a great deal of help but we feel that, in some cases, there is more that they can do. We need to encourage that to happen so where schools have the capacity and capability to do so, we will ask them to sponsor or set up new schools, or to offer a certain proportion of places as funded bursaries, on which some may well qualify already. Where they are smaller schools, we will obviously look for a proportionate response but will still look to them to engage more widely with the state school system.