Advertisement
UK markets open in 4 hours 2 minutes
  • NIKKEI 225

    40,277.86
    -819.83 (-1.99%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    17,684.44
    -54.97 (-0.31%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    83.24
    +0.39 (+0.47%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    2,467.20
    +7.30 (+0.30%)
     
  • DOW

    41,198.08
    +243.60 (+0.59%)
     
  • Bitcoin GBP

    49,746.91
    -721.90 (-1.43%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,339.44
    -2.88 (-0.21%)
     
  • NASDAQ Composite

    17,996.92
    -512.42 (-2.77%)
     
  • UK FTSE All Share

    4,489.24
    +6.80 (+0.15%)
     

No state school GCSE spaces in Reeves’s constituency as Labour pledges private school tax raid

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves looking lost for words during a meeting on the General Election campaign trail
Rachel Reeves's constituency Leeds West has only a few spaces left for Year 10s - Lucy North/PA

GCSE pupils in Rachel Reeves’ constituency face being left without a school space if their parents can no longer afford private education fees under Labour.

All 46 state schools in the city of Leeds are at full capacity for Year 11 students, with just one school accepting pupils in Year 10 for the next academic year, council figures show.

There are 4,807 private school pupils in the city according to the Department of Education.

A 7pc drop under Labour, as estimated by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) think tank, would leave the council struggling to find 336 extra school spaces.

Ms Reeves, who has been the MP for Leeds West since 2010, has long made her dislike of private schools clear and as recently as 2019 called for them to be abolished.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Telegraph approached both Ms Reeves and the Labour Party to ask whether these pupils would have to travel outside Leeds to find school spaces or if state school class sizes will be increased but received no response.

The shadow chancellor previously said private schools “segregate children based on parental wealth” and “entrench privilege and divide communities”.

In a series of separate posts on Twitter from 2019, when Ms Reeves was a backbench MP, she said: “On private schools… my view is that we should work to abolish private education.”

She also voiced her support for a grassroots campaign called Labour Against Private Schools that called for them to be integrated into the state sector.

Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, earlier this month refused to explain how a Labour government would accommodate up to 40,000 extra pupils in the state system when asked by Camilla Tominey on GB News.

A week later shadow attorney general Emily Thornberry said it could lead to larger class sizes in the short term, comments which were then slapped down by Sir Keir Starmer as “wrong”.

Leeds City Council data, which was published on July 17, shows only six secondary schools had spaces available, with the vast majority having vacancies for only a handful of pupils in one particular year group.

Leeds West Academy, in Ms Reeves’s constituency, had some spaces in Year 10 but for no other year group.

A study by Baines Cutler, which consults schools on fees, has estimated as many as 42pc of pupils could be withdrawn from private education under Labour. An exodus of this size would negate the £1.5bn Labour hopes to raise from the policy. The IFS, meanwhile, said up to 7pc of pupils could be affected.

In a report last July, the think tank warned up to 40,000 pupils would be forced out of private schools which would cost a future Labour government up to “£300m in extra school spending in the medium to long run”.

Labour said it hopes to raise £1.5bn from the policy, which would go towards funding an additional 6,500 state school teachers.

‘An attack on working people’

One dad from Leeds who is having to take his child out of private school, said the policy was “an attack on hard-working people who are making great sacrifices”.

The parent, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph: “The policy will be crippling and unaffordable for me and no doubt many more.

“The state system failed my son massively. There was a severe case of bullying that just wasn’t dealt with, resulting in a horrific time for my son. He went from being a happy, larger than life character to an unrecognisable boy.

“He even went as far to say he didn’t want to live any more. We made the decision, which was a massive struggle financially at the time, to move him to a private school, making huge sacrifices in doing so.

“I am extremely passionate and driven to provide the best opportunities for my children. By introducing VAT for no logical reason is absolutely baffling. It feels like an attack on hard-working people who are making great sacrifices to be able to afford it.”

Gillian Keegan, the education secretary, criticised Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for “caring more about political ideology than children”, adding: “He just doesn’t care about the consequences of his reckless tax rise.”

She said: “In the past few weeks, a member of his top team admitted they would drive up class sizes in state schools. Not content with this, he’s also going to force the parents of children with special educational needs and disabilities to take them out of school part-way through their education.

“That’s just wrong and offers a glimpse as to what a Labour government with a big majority – in power for a generation with no accountability – would mean for our country.”

The Labour party refused to comment.

A Leeds City Council spokesman said: “Whilst many secondary schools in the city do not have many places available at present, this is less the case with our primary schools.

“For any children without a school place or where there is any shortage of places in their area, there is also a process in place to help them find a school which meets their needs.

“All applications where preferences cannot be met, and a child has no accessible school places, are checked against the ‘shortage’ criteria and support offered through the Fair Access Protocol where appropriate.”