‘Scaremongering’: Labour denies ending ‘tax breaks’ for private schools would pile pressure on state school places

27 May 2024, 09:32

Watch Again: Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson joins Paul Brand | 25/05/2024

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Labour has rejected warnings that ending ‘tax breaks’ for private schools would pile pressure on state school places.

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There are warnings ending the tax breaks would cause an ‘exodus’ of students being pulled out of their private schools as parents struggle to pair their fees.

Labour has been warned this could increase pressure on state schools, some of which are already oversubscribed.

But the Shadow Education Secretary, Bridget Phillipson, labelled the warnings ‘scaremongering’.

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'Tax breaks' on private schools would be ended 'straight away' if elected, Labour has said
'Tax breaks' on private schools would be ended 'straight away' if elected, Labour has said. Picture: Getty

Pressed by LBC's Paul Brand, Ms Phillipson said: “I don’t accept the scaremongering, there are ample places in state schools, particularly in primaries. That’s where we’re seeing the sharpest declines in terms of where places will be needed.

“For me it’s just a straightforward question of political priorities. The vast majority of children in our country go to state schools…what they want is a government that recognises the importance of making sure we’ve got brilliant, expert teachers at the front of every classroom.

“We would end the tax breaks that private schools enjoy to fill those gaps around maths and science and all of the areas where too often, the teacher at the front of the classroom is just someone who’s been asked to step in. That damages children’s life chances.”

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Ms Phillipson also told LBC that the plans are expected to raise between £1.3bn and £1.5bn, which she says Labour would spend on bringing in new teachers.

“Labour would invest that money into 6,500 more teachers, more mental health support in our schools, more support for teachers and work experience for all our young people,” Ms Phillipson said.

Sir Keir Starmer said Labour would end the tax breaks “straight away” should they be elected.

“As soon as it can be done. It is a question of the timetable in Parliament. But these steps are intended to be done straight away,” the Labour leader told Radio 4’s Today Programme last week.

Sir Keir Starmer
Sir Keir Starmer. Picture: Getty

Some headteachers have warned parents are already starting to cancel places at private schools due to Labour's proposed plans.

Silas Edmonds, who is the principal at Ewell Castle School in Surrey, told The Telegraph: “Several year seven families and families of pupils who would have been taking places in sixth form have withdrawn because they are just too worried about this additional cost.”