Seize the Means of Education: Labour Backs Abolishing Private Schools, ‘Redistributing’ Their Assets

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Labour Party leader, Jeremy Corbyn addresses delegates on day four of the Labour Party conference at the Arena and Convention Centre on September 26, 2018 in Liverpool, England. In his closing speech to the conference the Labour leader will promise to "kickstart a green jobs …
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Labour Party members have backed “integrating” private schools into the public education system, effectively abolishing independent education, with the institutions’ assets being seized by the State and “redistributed” to other schools.

The Labour Party took another swing to the far-left under socialist leader Jeremy Corbyn after its members voted on Sunday to back plans that would see a future Labour government abolish Britain’s private schools, signalling members want the motion included in the party’s next election manifesto.

Members also voted to force universities to cut the number of independent school pupils they accept, whereby where currently 10 per cent of university matriculations are private school pupils, that would be capped at seven per cent, in line with the proportion of the wider population of children who attend fee-paying schools.

Speaking at the party’s conference in Brighton last night, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said Labour will set its Social Justice Commission “to work on making the whole education system fairer through the integration of private schools”.

The members resolved “To include in the next Labour party general election manifesto a commitment to integrate all private schools into the state sector,” which would include “Endowments, investments and properties held by private schools to be redistributed democratically and fairly across the country’s educational institutions.”

Assets are often used by private schools to generate income, either to help maintain their independence, or, along with the tax-exemption charitable status — which Labour also vows to abolish — allows them to provide bursaries and scholarships to working class pupils.

The take-over of private schools would not be without cost, however, with the BBC noting that it would result in some 600,000 formerly-independent school pupils — the school population of Wales — to be educated by the public purse, an estimated £3.5 billion on top of the education budget.

Independent Schools Council chief executive Julie Robinson branded the move “an attack on the rights and freedoms of parents to make choices over the education of their children”, while the Independent Schools Association’s Neil Roskilly pointed out that if integration occurred, “teachers in the private sector wouldn’t choose to transfer into the state sector”.

Former deputy chairman of the Conservatives Lord Ashcroft pointed out that as a result of Labour’s to stop parental choice, private schools will “just pop up in Ireland or elsewhere”.

Labour was criticised for its hypocrisy, as a number of MPs in the shadow government and other senior figures had either benefitted from private education themselves or sent their children to independent schools, including: party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Seumas Milne, his communications director, and Jon Lansman, the Momentum chief, who all attended private school; shadow home secretary Diane Abbott sent her son to the private City of London school; and Labour peer Shami Chakrabarti sent her son to the private Dulwich College.

Concern was also raised last night by Labour’s “chilling” seizure of private assets, with David Gauke MP, formerly of the Conservative Party, saying: “I didn’t go to a private school. My children don’t go to private schools. But Labour’s new policy on abolishing private schools and seizing private property is chilling.”

After Labour had banned establishing new academic-attainment selective grammar schools in a previous government, there is the question of where Labour’s policies of stopping school choice or making illegal so-called “unfairness” in the education system would end, given British parents also pay privately for tutors, music teachers, and other non-State controlled extracurricular activities. The BBC’s education and family correspondent Sean Coughlan wrote: “Why not other forms of non-state education – whether it’s nurseries, private tutors, professional training, universities or driving schools for that matter? Apart from property rights, there would be questions about human rights. How can you stop a parent choosing to pay someone to teach their child?”

While in theory no previous British government can bind the next, even if a successive Conservative government decided to reestablish private schools, those institutions would be without the assets, land, and other endowments that enabled them to be independent in the first place. Assets once seized and redistributed by the State cannot be returned to its owners with ease or without enormous further cost to the taxpayer.

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