Middle classes 'will want state education'

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The Independent Online

The flight of middle-class parents from state schools to independent ones will halt within five years, the man in charge of delivering Tony Blair's public service reforms forecast yesterday.

Professor Michael Barber, head of Downing Street's delivery unit, told a conference in London: "I would be very surprised if within four or five years there was not a much greater confidence in the provision of state education - particularly in inner London."

He was responding to concern about the number of children whose parents believe local state schools are so bad their offspring must be educated elsewhere. He said he based his predictionon the Government's setting up of more than 50 City Academies, schools financed by the state but run by private sponsors.

Last month, the London Labour MP Diane Abbott said she was sending her son to a £10,000-a-year private school.