Home counties most at risk from Labour’s private school policies, analysis suggests

But a headteacher in the Midlands has challenged the findings and says students in urban areas will be harder hit

The home counties are most at risk from Labour’s policies on private school, research suggests.

The analysis by The Knowledge Academy – a provider of classroom and online training courses – revealed that Surrey, Hertfordshire and Kent are the English counties with the greatest number of students enrolled in independent schools.

Although the home counties have the largest fee-paying education sectors, Labour’s policies may have the most significant impact “outside London and the South East”, one Midlands headmaster challenged.

Threatening our financial future will make the opportunities for some of the poorer children in urban areas worse rather than better
– Kevin Fear, Nottingham High School

Nearly 47,000 students are enrolled in 120 schools in Surrey alone and more than 42,000 pupils attend 106 private schools in Hertfordshire and Kent combined.

Berkshire and Hampshire complete the top five counties in England with the greatest number of fee-paying pupils and schools. The data is drawn from independent school websites.

Read more: Industry reacts to Labour’s plans to integrate private schools into state sector

Despite the findings, Nottingham High School head Kevin Fear said urban areas may be more affected were Labour to enter government.

Speaking to Independent Education Today, Mr Fear said said: “Were these tax plans to be implemented such financial provision that really enables social mobility would be challenged.”

Counties of the country with greater levels of deprivation, like Durham and South Yorkshire, have relatively few independent school places and may miss out on bursaries and grants.

Mr Fear said: “In many of the major urban cities such as Nottingham, Birmingham, Leeds, Newcastle and Manchester the independent schools are not only the strongest academic school in the region, but they also provide really important bursaries to a number of children in the most deprived areas of these cities.”

Independent schools in urban areas provide access to their facilities and teaching support for local children and teachers which “would be jeopardised by Labour’s plans”, Mr Fear added.

In an interview with The Times’ Redbox podcast, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour was committed to “integrating all private schools into the state sector“, but said seizing assets would be “draconian”.

Read more: Jeremy Corbyn: taxation more important than seizing property 

“We all understand the importance of social mobility and the majority of us are signed up ready to support the Sutton Trust’s open access scheme but threatening our financial future will make the opportunities for some of the poorer children in urban areas worse rather than better. We urge governments of any political persuasion to allow us to be part of the solution rather than seeing us as the problem,” Mr Fear said.

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