About 9,000 small council-maintained schools should be exempted from the apprenticeship levy, the Local Government Association has said.
It said such schools should be put on the same footing as small academies and faith schools, which are exempt if their wage bill is below £3m a year.
The levy applies from April to concerns with a wage bill of more than £3m a year, which must contribute 0.5% their payroll to fund apprenticeships.
Council schools are not eligible for the exemption below £3m as their staff are counted in with the council’s overall staffing total, so increasing the amount it must pay in levy.
Richard Watts (Lab), chair of the LGA’s children and young people board, said: “It is discriminatory for small council-maintained schools not to be exempted from the apprenticeship levy in the same way that small academies and faith schools will be. Once again, council-maintained schools are being dealt a poor hand compared to academies.”