At their party conference, delegates from Labour voted in favour abolishing private schools and “redistributing” their assets to the state.
The motion, passed by Labour delegates, said that the resources and property of private schools would be “redistributed democratically and fairly” to other state schools. It also put forward that British universities should be limited to only accepting the same proportion of private school pupils as are in the general population, which currently stands at 7%. 89.8% of all university students are currently state educated, but some universities have the number as low as 70%. With the passing of this motion, the delegates have signalled that they want this included in their party’s next manifesto.
The decision comes after Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary, Angela Rayner, told conference that under a Labour government, private schools would have their charitable status revoked, despite many of them using their funds to help many thousands of impoverished children get a better education. Labour would also abolish Ofsted, the government organisation that regulates and inspects schools to ensure standards are maintained.
A snap poll of 3,000 British teachers by Teacher Tapp, found that 46% of them supported the proposal, with 31% opposing it. 23% were undecided.
Julie Robinson, Chief Executive of the Independent Schools Council, who represent over 1,000 private schools, said that parents were “rightly worried” about Labour “putting politics before the interests of children”, and that the overhaul would be “an act of national self-harm”:
The move is an attack on the rights and freedoms of parents to make choices over the education of their children… This decision is an ideological distraction from dealing with the real problems in education… We all want to see more funding for state schools and greater support for underperforming pupils, which is precisely why we encourage all schools to work together in the interests of every child… 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.
The Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, also denounced the plans:
Labour are putting ideology before the education of our children. Parents will be rightly fearful of Corbyn’s plans to abolish independent inspections, scrap SATs and destroy academies and free schools. Labour would weaken discipline, lower standards and reduce choice and information for parents.