Abolish Eton: Labour activists target elite private schools

Ed Miliband backs campaign to bring fee-paying schools into state sector

(Image credit: Jack Taylor/AFP/Getty Images)

Labour activists launched a campaign today to strip elite private schools of their privileges and incorporate them into the state system in England.

The group, Labour Against Private Schools, is hoping to use Boris Johnson’s likely election as Conservative leader to target his old school, Eton, reports The Guardian.

The campaign is backed by a number of Labour MPs, including former party leader Ed Miliband and shadow Treasury minister Clive Lewis, and was organised on Twitter using the @AbolishEton handle.

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Holly Rigby, coordinator of the campaign and a state school teacher, said: “There is no justification for the fact that young people’s opportunity to flourish and fulfil their potential is still determined by the size of their parents’ bank balance.”

Lewis says that “private schools are anachronistic engines of privilege that simply have no place in the 21st century.

“We cannot claim to have an education system that is socially just when children in private schools continue to have 300% more spent on their education than children in state schools.”

Johnson's rival for No. 10 in the Tory leadership election is Jeremy Hunt, who went to another elite fee-paying school, Charterhouse.

A spokesperson for Labour Against Private Schools told Metro: “The current leadership election looks more and more like an Eton versus Charterhouse varsity match, and let’s not forget that “man of the people” Nigel Farage, who rails against the ‘metropolitan elite’, was himself educated at a posh private school in South London.”

The campaign group points out that “a third of all British Prime Ministers were educated at Eton. Boris Johnson will be number 20.”

Rigby claims previous Labour governments did not use their opportunities to tackle class divisions in the education system. “It’s about time we finished the job,” she said.

The group plans to circulate its campaign to local constituency Labour parties in the hope they will back such a motion at the party conference in Brighton later this year.

“If adopted, the motion’s proposals would be included in Labour’s next general election manifesto,” says the Guardian, which notes that it would “face significant legal obstacles”.

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