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

One independent school head said removing choice in education is “absolutely tragic”

The Labour Party has agreed on a motion to integrate private schools into the state sector.

The BBC said “the motion calls for funds and properties held by private schools to be ‘redistributed democratically and fairly’ to other schools”.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said “tax loopholes” that benefit private schools would be scrapped by a Labour government in its first Budget.

The independent school sector has responded with statements and tweets reflecting their viewpoint.

Head of Dover College Gareth Doodes, who attended Eastbourne College, said on Twitter: “I went to @EBCollegeLife because my parents made a choice and then made enormous sacrifices.

“The teaching, pastoral care, support and confidence it gave me changed my life.

“To think that @UKLabour is planning to remove this choice is absolutely tragic.”

The Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) executive director Mike Buchanan said in a statement: “The motion passed at the Labour Party conference attacking independent education is based on myths, misinformation and misunderstandings.

“If implemented, it will be an act of unprecedented vandalism. Any government has a duty of care to all its citizens and this would harm children in independent and state schools, harm families and harm freedom. It could cripple an already cash-strapped education system and cost rather than win Labour votes.

“It would threaten the jobs of teachers and support staff,  and empty promises of transferring over to a comprehensive state system ignore employment law and basic humanity.

“Teachers and heads care about all children. Their priority is not the abolition of the few, but the elevation of the many.”

Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), said in a statement: “Abolition would represent an act of national self-harm. Tearing down excellent schools does not improve our education system. The repercussions would be irreversible and far-reaching, damaging educational opportunities and limiting life chances.

“Moreover, Labour’s plan would breach the European Convention on Human Rights on the right to choose education.”

“Every family with school-aged children would be affected if independent schools were abolished. State school class sizes would swell further, resources would be stretched and the financial strain on already-stretched budgets would be enormous.”

“For far too long this debate has been fuelled by ideology. We must leave this dangerous approach behind and, instead, all engage in a serious, positive conversation about what really matters: how to build upon what we have in order to improve education for all children.”

Melanie Tucker Consulting, which specialises in business advice and more to independent schools, said Labour’s decision does not make economic or educational sense.

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