Labour pledge could see 6,000 private school pupils in Norfolk forced into state schools
PUBLISHED: 06:00 28 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:50 28 September 2019
Almost 6,000 privately educated pupils in Norfolk could be forced into state schools if Labour follows through on plans to abolish private education.
The party has pledged to end the "tax privileges enjoyed by private schools" and redistribute their property and wealth to the state system following a vote by members at its annual conference.
According to a Department for Education census taken in January there were 5,918 pupils attending 32 private schools in Norfolk - 5pc of the county's total number of pupils.
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Some may travel from homes outside of Norfolk to attend their school of choice.
Private School Policy Reform, a new independent think tank, launched a report this month outlining options for reforming the independent sector - from scrapping private schools' charitable status and charging tax on student fees to nationalisation.
But the Independent Schools Council (ISC) said a move to abolish private schools would constitute "an attack on the rights and freedoms of parents to make choices over the education of their children" and would see both class sizes and financial strain increase at state schools.
Earlier this week the headmaster of Langley School near Loddon criticised Labour's plans, but said private schools could be working harder to forge links with state counterparts.
A Department for Education spokeswoman said it would continue to ensure parents have a choice in where to send their children.
She said: "The UK boasts a diverse education system, in which state schools, independent schools and universities are encouraged to share their expertise and resources through our partnerships programme."
According to the ISC's 2019 census, the East of England has seen the biggest rise in privately educated pupils of any English region in the past year.
The census said there were 147 private schools in the region with 61,528 pupils - up by 1.5pc from 60,628 pupils in 2018.
But it is not all plain sailing for the independent education sector in Norfolk.
In August Hethersett Old Hall School announced it would not be reopening for the new school year.
Pupil numbers had been falling for a number of years with fewer than 100 children on roll when the school shut. It owed almost £500,000 to creditors when it went into liquidation.
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