Many of Britain's 2,400 private schools are registered as charities, which enable them to escape an estimated£83m in taxes each year. However, a government review of charities' law is expected to conclude this summer that private schools should be stripped of charitable status unless they can demonstrate a 'public benefit' beyond that of educating the children of fee-paying parents.
The government is trying to encourage independent schools to be involved in partnership projects. School standards minister Stephen Timms will this week announce£770,000 to fund schemes that will include private schools offering music tuition in North Tyneside and athletics coaching in Worcestershire.
However, there is pressure on Labour's back benches for tougher reforms. David Miliband, MP for South Shields and former head of the No 10 policy unit, said public schools should be required to pass a rigorous test of public benefit. 'Private schools represent an educational resource. They need to open them up to partnership with the community', he said.