'Integrate virus-hit private schools into state system'

Labour's Rebecca Long-Bailey makes suggestion – echoing election manifesto 'abolition' threat – in letter to education secretary

William Stewart

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The government should support private schools hit by the coronavirus by "integrating" them into the state sector, Labour has suggested.

Tes revealed last week how sector insiders fear that hundreds of UK independent schools will be "bust by Christmas" because of the pandemic, with some parents refusing to pay fees. 

Now, the new shadow education secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey is promoting the idea of converting them into state schools as a solution.

Exclusive: Hundreds private schools 'bust by Christmas'

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But her suggestion of "integrating" stricken private schools into the non-fee paying system is likely to be seen as provocative by those working in the schools.

It echoes Labour's last general election manifesto pledge of a social justice commission advising on "integrating private schools and creating a comprehensive education system". 

This was viewed by independent school leaders as an ideologically driven abolition threat and today, Ms Long-Bailey has used the coronavirus crisis to revive it.

In a letter to education secretary Gavin Williamson published this afternoon, she writes: "It is reported that many private educational settings are likely to face an impending financial crisis as a result of the pandemic and the loss of international students in particular.

"What steps is your Department taking to support such settings, particularly, integrating them into the state sector?"

The question is one of a lengthy list in the four page letter that Ms Long-Bailey released on Twitter just as the government's daily coronavirus briefing was beginning. 

She published the document with an emoji wink, saying that it should keep Mr Williamson "busy for a few days".


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William Stewart

William Stewart

William Stewart is News editor at Tes

Find me on Twitter @wstewarttes

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