Anti-private school motion passes at Labour conference

Delegates at the Labour Party conference have passed a motion calling on the party to “integrate” private schools into the state sector and “redistribute” their assets.

The motion, which was backed by a number of MPs including shadow chancellor John McDonnell, was debated and approved in Brighton this evening.

However, Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, has so far only committed to implementing part of the proposal related to tax loopholes.

The motion, drawn up by supporters of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and backed by Momentum, states that the party should withdraw private schools’ charitable status, business rate exemption and “all other public subsidies and tax privileges”, and redistribute their endowments, investments and properties “democratically and fairly across the country’s educational institutions” if the party wins a general election.

Addressing the conference this morning, Rayner stopped short of pledging to enact all of the policies in the motion. Schools Week understands some in the shadow education secretary’s team are uneasy about the redistribution element of the proposal.

Rayner told the hall that her party in government will set its new Social Justice Commission to work “on making the whole education system fairer through the integration of private schools”.

“John McDonnell and I will set out the further steps a Labour government would take. But I can say today, that our very first budget will immediately close the tax loopholes used by elite private schools, and use that money to improve the lives of all children.”

But Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, said: “The move is an attack on the rights and freedoms of parents to make choices over the education of their children.

“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.”