Labour’s plan for a National Education Service will mean parents no longer feel the need to look at private schools or grammars, the shadow education secretary has claimed.
Angela Rayner said that creating "a brilliant" state school system would take away demand for selective or independent education.
She highlighted the London Challenge’s impact on schools in inner London, where she said there was no grammar school system.
Addressing the National Governance Association (NGA) conference today, she urged governors to help shape Labour’s vision for a new National Education Service, which she said would be a “once in a generation” chance.
During a question-and-answer session, Ms Rayner was asked what she would do with grammar schools if she became education secretary.
She replied: “If I do a good enough job…then we won’t be needing private and grammar schools because actually our state system will be that brilliant that people will realise that they don’t have to go into a system where their only chance of having their children do well is by getting into a grammar school.”
The MP for Ashton-under-Lyne was also asked how a national education service could be delivered when local education authorities have undergone cuts and local knowledge has been lost.
She said that she was not looking to recreate the local education authority system.
She added: “I am asking people, as part of our consultation, to think outside the box. Some of those structures were helpful and we need to look at how we reintroduce them but I don’t think it necessarily needs to be on a local government footprint."
She said the new service would not “sit within a local government setting but would be a national education service in its own right which is protected from sharks that might want to nibble at it at a later date".
Last year, Ms Rayner published 10 principles that would underpin a National Education Service.
She said these principles would be applied to all state schools. Labour is now consulting on these and Ms Rayner urged governors to play their part.
Ms Rayner said: “I don’t want our relationship to be one-way. So we are consulting on those principles now, and I want to encourage everyone here not just to listen to me but to have their own say – please do go to our website and help shape the national education service of which I hope you will all one day be a part.
“Because we believe to get the policy right, we need to get the principles right first. And the school leaders, governors, and teachers I talk to tell me that too often it feels like changes are being forced on their schools, when we all know they should be part of designing those changes.”
Earlier, the NGA conference in Manchester heard from education secretary Damian Hinds. He issued a rallying call to businesses to get their employees to become governors and trustees.
And he backed a new campaign launched today by the NGA and Inspiring Governance to recruit more governors from ethnic minority backgrounds and more young people.
He also announced plans to clamp down on multi-academy trusts paying excessive salaries or rewarding friends and colleagues with lucrative contracts through related party transactions.