Baker’s Beacon Blog – Week 20

23 February 2024

Dear Parents,

The Bakers did little over Half Term, but I was suitably entertained with the regular commentary coming through on the 1st XI Cricket Team WhatsApp Group of their tour of South Africa.  What an amazing experience for the boys in a beautiful country that they will remember for the rest of their lives.  My thanks to Messrs. Robinson, Williams and Powell for taking the boys away and coaching and encouraging them with such passion and skill, particularly in the face of adversity towards the end of the tour with a bout of illness running through the group.  A tough end to a brilliant ten days, but they got through it and it was great to hear such positive stories and experiences from colleagues, boys and parents this week.

As the General Election looms ever closer, there is a lot of talk both in the media and no doubt in your households about Labour’s proposal to impose VAT on school fees.  We could be really optimistic and bullish and think that, “They’ve said this before – it didn’t happen then and it won’t happen now”, but this time it does feel very real, and more than an off-hand comment or idea as it has been previously.  As a sector and as a School, we have been planning for this eventuality for well over a year now; taking financial advice and looking carefully at our school structure, fee projections, budgets and costs that are controllable.   We all realise that whilst we would be forced to impose 20% onto the termly fee, simply increasing the amount charged to parents by that figure is going to price independent schooling out of the reaches of many current and prospective parents in the UK and we need to work our budgets to keep future fee increases pragmatic, reasonable and affordable.  For smaller schools with limited cash reserves and tight budgets, this is going to be even more difficult but as one of the five largest prep schools in the country with our roll of 510, we are far better placed than the majority to adapt to this eventuality.  The trick of course is how to maintain and enhance our provision for the boys, whilst still controlling costs.  Our whole community can be assured that the School and the Governing Body fully intend to maintain The Beacon’s commitment to excellence and ensure that the changes that have been made over the past year and in future years will continue to be subtle, and in no way negatively impact on the boys’ or parental experience.  The best schools come out of adversity stronger – we are one of those schools.

Have a good weekend,

Nick Baker

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