A call for the state to take control of all private-school assets is set to be considered at the Labour Party conference next month.
The motion, submitted by the Labour Against Private Schools campaign, calls for “endowments, investments and properties held by private schools to be redistributed democratically and fairly across the country’s educational institutions”.
A Labour Party spokesperson said the motion would be considered by the Conference Arrangements Committee, which will decide whether it should be included in the priorities ballot stage at the conference in Brighton.
But Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, warned that the motion would involve “the state unilaterally seizing private property”.
Abolishing independent schools
“The impact on society of setting such a dangerous precedent would be huge and have wide-ranging implications," she said.
“Would the general public be comfortable with an education system that offers no alternative to government-run schools?
“Abolishing independent schools will not improve the overall quality of our nation’s education. Such a move would further swell state school class sizes and cost the state sector, which is already under extreme financial pressure, billions more than the £3.5 billion currently saved through the education of children and young people outside of state schools.
"Independent school parents have already paid for their children’s state education through taxation but choose not to take it up.”
The Labour Against Private Schools campaign – which is using the Twitter handle @AbolishEton – wants the Labour Party to commit to integrating all private schools into the state sector in its next general election manifesto.
Its motion is also calling for the withdrawal of charitable status and all other public subsidies and tax privileges for independent schools, including business rate exemption.
It states that only 7 per cent of UK students attend private schools, yet mentions the Sutton Trust 2019 report, which reveals that 65 per cent of senior judges, 52 per cent of junior ministers, 44 per cent of news columnists and 16 per cent of university vice-chancellors were educated in private schools.
It states: "The ongoing existence of private schools is incompatible with Labour’s pledge to promote social justice, not just social mobility, in education. Labour is opposed to hierarchy, elitism and selection in education. Private schools reflect and reinforce class inequality in wider society.”