At first glance, you may wonder why the Labour Party’s stance on independent schools is of concern to the entire local community. But charging hard-working parents VAT on independent school fees would have implications that go far beyond our school gates, affecting all local schools and parents.

As a school, any money Channing makes is directly invested into our provision of education, as well as funding our partnership programmes and providing bursaries for pupils who might otherwise not be able to afford to attend the school.

Our trailblazing Education Plus partnership with Highgate Newtown Community Partners (HNCP) and Brookfield Primary School is providing opportunities for pupils who need it most.

Our work includes several primary schools with pupils participating in a dozen clubs and activities each week. We are also developing links with local secondary schools, including a thriving relationship with St Aloysius College.

Ham & High: Mrs Hughes is concerned about the impact of charging parents VATMrs Hughes is concerned about the impact of charging parents VAT (Image: Channing)

Alongside our growing partnerships, charitable work is central to our ethos.

Having provided support for HNCP community lunches over the last few years, we now host our own, free, monthly Communi-teas for local residents. In addition, the Senior School raises around £25,000 annually for local charities, while the Junior School makes significant donations to the Ringcross and North London food banks every week.

Charging parents VAT would make our education unaffordable for some and risk their children having to leave the school.

We have students in receipt of transformational bursaries, often of 100% of fees. Everything Channing does comes from fee income, so the impact of Labour’s policies would inevitably limit our work.

This would cause significant disruption for children forced to leave the school, but there should be even more concern about the capacity of local state schools to absorb the ensuing increase in pupil numbers. This would come not just from Channing but also from other independent schools in the area.

At a time when school budgets are in crisis, enacting a policy that would cost state schools money to educate more pupils without raising the funds needed to cover this seems short-sighted in the extreme.

The policy would also be damaging to the Highgate community. 

We buy a large proportion of our food and some of our education supplies from local independent traders. These are relationships we really value but with Labour’s proposed squeeze, shopping locally might become unaffordable for us.

You may not feel Labour’s ideological proposals are relevant to you. However, Channing is knitted into the fabric of Highgate and the community would feel the loss of all these things.

If what I have written here strikes a chord with you, I urge you to contact your local MP warning against this policy.

Mrs Lindsey Hughes is headmistress of Channing School in Highgate.