Sarwar accepts criticism over private school policy

Labour leader asked how stance on independent schools squares with education of his own children

Tes Reporter

Sarwar accepts criticism over private school policy (Copyright holder: PA WIRE Copyright notice: PA Wire/PA Images Picture by: Andrew Milligan)

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said that he “proudly” supports Labour’s policy of ending public support for private schools, despite choosing to educate his own children privately.

Mr Sarwar said he accepts that people may criticise him for the decision but stressed it was one “that my wife and I made…for our children”.

He was pressed on the matter as the Labour manifesto for the 6 May Scottish Parliament election, published today, made clear the party’s commitment to ending “all public sector support for fee-paying private schools”.

Also this week: Private schools should be 'phased out', says report

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Scottish Parliament election 2021: Tories' manifesto for education

Scottish Parliament election 2021: Greens' manifesto for education

Scottish Parliament election 2021: Lib Dem manifesto for education

Another world: What if teachers wrote manifestos?

Labour would “end their charitable status for rates relief as a contribution towards achieving a more socially just and inclusive society”, the policy document said.

Asked afterwards if that made him a hypocrite, Mr Sarwar said: “I have been called worse than that.”

Mr Sarwar, who is the first political leader in the UK from an ethnic minority background, added: “As I have made clear before, I accept it is a fair criticism.

“I have been open and honest about this; there are different forms of inequality and prejudice that my children will face.”

However, he said he has supported the policy on private schools ever since it was adopted, when Kezia Dugdale was Scottish Labour leader, adding: “I proudly support it now.”

He said: “I am open around the fair question and the fair criticism people make around the decision that my wife and I made for our children.

“Every parent wants to do what is best for their children, but I want every child to have opportunity. That is why we have put our education comeback plan at the heart of this manifesto.

“That is why we are talking about an individual assessment for every pupil, we’re talking about not just an educational assessment but also a mental health assessment, and backing that up with more ASN (additional support needs) our schools.”

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