Labour minister criticised for sending child to private school

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The Independent Online

A cabinet minister who took their child out of the state education system in favour of a private school for children with learning difficulties has been angrily criticised by Labour MPs.

Reports said the minister, who has not been identified, moved the child because there was not sufficient state provision in their area. The Mail on Sunday said the child had gone to an unnamed £15,000-a-year private school offering one-to-one tuition.

Margaret Hodge, a former education minister and now a minister in the Department for Trade and Industry, acknowledged that there was "a public interest in the story" but appealed for children of politicians to be kept out of the public eye.

She said: "I think, given our commitment to state education, it is an issue of public interest. However, I think the paramount importance is maintaining privacy for children."

Backbenchers reacted with anger. Ian Gibson, the Labour MP for Norwich North, said: "I deprecate anybody, any minister who chooses to do this. Nothing surprises me any more. I think it's wrong. You should set an example as a minister and support your local school. It's a slap in the face for the teachers and the pupils in the school that the child has been taken out of."

Lynne Jones, MP for Birmingham Selly Oak, said: "I think it goes against the principles of the Labour Party."

Austin Mitchell, MP for Great Grimsby, added: "I think we should expect Labour ministers to put their children through the state system. I deplore others transferring their children out of the system to go private."