Public schools warn Labour

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The Independent Online
THE leader of Britain's independent schools issued a stern warning about "new" Labour yesterday, insisting that old hostilities towards private schools remained, writes Ben Russell.

Dr Alistair Cooke, general secretary of the Independent Schools Council, said new links between state and private schools "will depend crucially on new Labour's ability to subdue and overcome the outdated prejdices and attitudes bequeathed by old Labour".

Ministers have urged independent schools to enter into partnerships with state schools to try to improve opportunities for the brightest pupils. Stephen Byers, minister responsible for school standards, called off hostilities with the private sector before Christmas when he announced a pounds 500,000 package for joint initiatives between state and independent schools.

But Dr Cooke, who represents 1,307 private schools, told independent- school heads meeting in Brighton: "Instinctive opponents of independent schools abound in local education authorities in Labour's heartlands. Even new Labour's citadels are not exactly crowded with sensible, open minds.

"When I wrote to a number of new-Labour MPs, not one replied."