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.”

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  1. Peter Wright

    The sad fact is that the Labour Party have arrived at this decision not through any feeling of social riteousness ( after all many of the leaders and ministers of the Labour Party have benefited from the private school system for either themselves or their children) but due to a malignant unelected pressure group who have been allowed to run riot throughout the party. They are so mad bad and dangerous I wonder if they are controlled by the Conservative party?

  2. Robin Hood

    Appropriation is a hallmark of Labour policies under Corbyn (ie confiscation of property). Nationalisation whereby shareholders or trusts are not paid full value for assets is sequestration: usually confined to times of national emergency, eg imminent threat of invasion.

    With no income stream from fees to maintain them, the confiscated buildings and grounds must either be sold or the taxpayer will have to shoulder the burden. International students will go elsewhere resulting in lost foreign exchange earnings for the uk. Extra places in the state sector will also be needed included which the taxpayer will also now fund with disproportionate impact across different LEAs.

  3. diane datson

    Public schools do not turn out more intelligent thoughtful people – they should pay tax on their income and lose their charitable status – parents should be encouraged to send children to state schools which need to improve – it’s a shame that so many want to have the illusion of being a notch above the rest when of course they are not.
    Agree – Lansman for example ( owner of momentum ) is dangerous – most momentum members are just excellent campaigners -I’m sure this policy will be much discussed before appearing in manifesto

    • Mark Watson

      Where has anyone arguing against Labour’s position said, or even intimated, that public schools turn out more intelligent, thoughtful people?

      It’s precisely this sort of populist tub-thumping specious statement that make me tear my hair out.