Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Not suitable standards

How can the Foreign Office justify spending £17.5m on the private school fees for the children of UK based staff if local state schools are not of a "suitable standard" to quote Jack Straw? Labour has had nine years to ensure every state school has the highest standards.

Labour scrapped the excellent Assisted Places Scheme that helped children from poor backgrounds or whose parents were not officials at the Foreign Office attend schools of a "suitable standard" in 1997!

1 comment:

Tom Paine said...

The "local" schools mentioned are in the countries diplomats are posted to. The private boarding school provision is to allow children continuity in their education when their parents move from one country to another (including occasional home postings) at regular intervals.

Leaving aside the waste of money involved in moving diplomats just as they get to know the country they are posted to (in case they "go native"), the provision of boarding school education in such cases seems reasonable. My wife and I did the same, but of course we paid for it from our after-tax income because we did not work for Big Brother.

What would you have the FCO do? Open its own state boarding schools to which diplomats' children can be sent? Honestly, the expense of this is trivial. The discrepancies in the Home Office's accounts (which meant they could not be signed off by auditors) amounted to almost half a billion pounds. If I had a discrepancy on that scale in my books, my partners would assume my hand was in the till.

As the shareholders in UK plc, I think the taxpayers would be prudent to make the same assumption. That's a problem; not £17 million to pay for some diplomats' kids to be educated properly.