THE charity behind a new low cost private primary school for Edinburgh is also looking at proposals in Glasgow.

Lord Digby Jones, a past director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the proposals for a new “network” of low cost private schools in Scotland would create an alternative to the state sector for families.

Lord Jones was speaking after an official launch by the Schools’ Educational Trust (SET), a small charity set up to run the scheme.

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Under the plan, annual fees per pupil would be £2,700 a year - or some £50 per week - modelled on a similar planned private school in Durham set up by James Tooley, a professor of education policy at Newcastle University.

Lord Jones, who chaired the launch in Edinburgh, said: “The charity is still looking at potential sites, but the idea is to get this launched by the start of the academic year in 2018 and we want to do it in Glasgow if we can, as well as looking at Edinburgh.

“I got involved because I want the business community to create the wealth and generate the tax which is going to change Scotland and I want that to come from the ability to recruit from a better skilled school population.

“To do that we need as many routes to market as possible and I want Scotland to break out of this ideology and tribalism which has led to the non-private sector being all the same.”

Lord Jones, who supports the concept without being directly involved, said Glasgow was ideal for a low cost private school because it would help “those left behind by globalisation”.

He said: “Globalisation has been great, but it has left a lot of people behind and I want to make sure those people have a future and Glasgow is one of those areas where the challenge is greatest.

“It wouldn’t make as much of a difference as quickly if you did it in Edinburgh because you already have a lot of people paying for education.”

Liz Smith, education spokeswoman for the Scottish Conservatives, welcomed the model.

She said: “We are very supportive of new initiatives to have a more diverse provision of schools in Scotland.

“We believe the status quo has imposed too many straitjackets on headteachers and, as a result, there has not been enough scope for imagination and creativity to flourish.”

Bill Nicol, director of SET, believes the cut-price fees will provide a “high-quality” alternative to state education.

He said costs would be kept down by a support system that was more efficient than local authorities. Joining would not be based on ability to pay, but instead using a means-tested voucher system.

“The SET would be solely focused on improving educational attainment through high quality, no-frills education with added benefits and innovations for half the cost,” he said.

“Why would you continue to fund the state system if you can provide a product that is competitive in the market, that’s got better outcomes and costs less?”

Examples of the fees paid by other private school fees in Scotland include St Columba’s in Glasgow which charges £10,920 per year, and Dundee High School, which charges £12,498. Fettes College in Edinburgh costs £15,495 a year

Any new school would have to be registered with Scottish ministers.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) teaching union said the proposal undermined the quality of education provided by teachers in state schools.

John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, described the plan as “ambitious”.

He said: “This idea is really focusing on people in local authority education rather than competing with independent schools. You can’t provide the same product at a fraction of the price. There is no getting away from the costs.”