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Labour members campaign to ban private schools

They think it would make society more equal. Critics say it wouldn’t change anything but the size of the state’s education bill.

A new campaign has been launched by members of the Labour Party to ban private schools. Imaginatively called Labour Against Private Schools, the campaign is trying to pressure party leader Jeremy Corbyn into promising to phase out fee-paying schools if he becomes Prime Minister at the next General Election.

Anti-private-school movements like this are usually based on the idea that it is inherently unfair for richer children to have access to a ‘better’ education than children from lower-income households, especially considering our schooling can have a big impact on what sort of job (and therefore income) we get when we grow up.

Private schools are more likely to have things like better facilities, smaller class sizes and extra-curricular activities that are assumed to help kids get better grades and/or life skills. Indeed, 48 percent of privately educated kids got top-grade A-Levels in 2017, almost double the nationwide average of 26 percent. Private schools are also credited with giving their alumni access to networks of powerful and successful people who subsequently give them a leg up in their careers.

But some people don’t think you’d get rid of any of these advantages by getting rid of private schools. (Although you would make the government and the taxpayer suddenly responsible for funding the school places of a bunch of well-off kids).

That’s because rich families can afford other things that will give their child an advantage over their less well-off peers, such as moving to the catchment area of one of the country’s best state schools, or hiring tutors and paying for out-of-school activities and/or culturally enriching experiences. In the same way, as long as rich, successful people continue to marry and hang out with other rich, successful people, their kids will still have connections to powerful people regardless of where they went to school.

Read our explainer on: inequality.

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