New Labour 'likes fee-paying schools'

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The Independent Online

Private schools received their most enthusiastic endorsement from the Government yesterday when Estelle Morris, an Education minister, said that New Labour liked fee-paying schools.

Private schools received their most enthusiastic endorsement from the Government yesterday when Estelle Morris, an Education minister, said that New Labour liked fee-paying schools.

The party would never go back to the days when it proposed their abolition, the minister said in comments that marked another step by the Government towards making peace with independent schools.

Asked by Conference and Common Room, the magazine for heads of leading public schools, whether Labour liked independent schools, she replied that it liked them "on two levels" both individually and collectively.

"We do like the independent sector in the same way that we like all the other sectors," she said. "If you take that to the national level, I think that what New Labour likes is respecting the parents' right to choose."

No matter how many terms new Labour had, it would never go back on that, she said.

Labour proposed the abolition of independent schools in its 1983 manifesto which described them as "a major obstacle to a free and fair education system able to serve the whole community."

Miss Morris said there had been a huge cultural change in the Labour Party during the intervening years. "As we have got to know the independent sector more, we've been more honest and open about what we can learn from it."

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