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Tristram Hunt's Speech

(144 Posts)
kellyandthecat Tue 25-Nov-14 12:19:33

So, what did everyone think?

Seems to me like Labour have made a big deal out of it but he hasn't really done anything at all, and it's a bit hard for him to sound sincere when he's so posh himself. Honestly, I don't know why Labour don't just admit they were wrong and bring back the grammar schools. DH and I both went to grammar schools and are putting/have put our DCs through private. Hate how in this country politicians can't just admit they were wrong! It's a strength in any other area of leadership surely?! All this messing around on the margins just looks like pointless busy work - I would not support it but I would be more impressed with their convictions if they said they were going to take away the charitable status. Making them play football together?! Stupid.

BogeyNights Tue 25-Nov-14 12:39:27

But why do private schools gave charitable status? Genuine question.
Furthermore, don't the parents of private school pupils still contribute into the "education pot" held by the government. So, I have always thought that if you send a child to private school, you end up paying twice.

AmberTheCat Tue 25-Nov-14 12:50:07

As the report says, Labour tried to take away private schools' charitable status a few years ago, but the the Independent Schools Council fought a legal case against it and won. I think this sounds like quite a clever alternative approach. It may end up being a bit token, but if it encourages private schools to do more to share their facilities then I think that's a good thing, and I like the fact that Hunt is talking about two-way partnerships, recognising that both sectors have something to offer the other.

I don't think it was wrong to get rid of (most) grammar schools. Research has shown pretty categorically that, while they gave some clever working class children a leg-up, overall they entrench social divides.

noblegiraffe Tue 25-Nov-14 12:55:15

why Labour don't just admit they were wrong and bring back the grammar schools.

It was the Tories who got rid of grammar schools.

MN164 Tue 25-Nov-14 13:02:49

I think he needs a stick to threaten private schools with to get them to share their expertise into the state sector. I approve of that.

However, if the objective is to close down private schools (as many would not be able to raise fees enough) then I hope he has the budget to educate those kids in the state sector. £5000 per each x 615,000 kids is over £3bn in England alone.

If the objection is the providing an education, charging for it but paying no tax then why doesn't he raise tax from universities that all charge upto £9000 per year too? Perhaps that doesn't score political points?

This is really about two things:

- Milliband has asked each dept to come up with a policy that defines them as different from the other parties.

- Hunt's real job is to improve the 95% of state schools and this will help to distract us from his real job if he comes to power.

Clavinova Tue 25-Nov-14 13:13:19

The link gives a figure of £165m reclaimed in business rates/tax in 2013 by fee paying schools - however, fee paying schools granted over £300m in means tested bursaries over the same year which is why they've kept their charitable status.
The Government of the day should concentrate more on reducing the vast gulf between outstanding state schools and poor state schools, not outstanding private schools and poor state schools.

MN164 Tue 25-Nov-14 13:18:15


Yes I agree and kind of ditto me too? wink
Hunt's real job is to improve the 95% of state schools

Soveryupset Tue 25-Nov-14 13:23:47

At a time where Labour could be providing huge opposition to what are many controversial Tory moves....all I hear from their leadership is sound-bites....mansion tax....private school charitable status....none of these really are at the core of the issues we are facing as a society.

Get a grip Labour, is my advice to them.

PS - should some private schools close down, it wouldn't affect the super-rich - they will find a way round. It will affect "the masses" as they will be scrambling even more for decent school places and experience even more overcrowding.

Clavinova Tue 25-Nov-14 13:28:10

MN164 - took a break mid post to eat lunch!

TalkinPeace Tue 25-Nov-14 13:28:25

I'm a great fan of state schools but thought he was talking out of his arse on the Today programme this morning.

If he really wants to make Private school charitable status result in widening participation and social mobility he should get the Charity Commission to ensure that no bursaries are given to the children or grandchildren of alumni of the school
Also bursary tests need to include capital, not just declared income

but actually I thought he was insulting to State school teachers implying they had less subject knowledge than private school teachers

and the SPORT issue FFS
If he believed in State School sport, why did his government merrily sell off so many playing fields and spare school buildings while they were in power?

AlphaBravoHenryFoxtons Tue 25-Nov-14 14:13:22

Is this the same Tristram Hunt who went to fee-paying University College School in Hampstead, and on to Trinity Cambridge? The same Tristram Hunt who is the son of a peer, Baron Hunt of Chesterton? The same Tristram Hunt who last year would not rule out sending his own children to fee paying schools?

I love it when these political dynasties pass power and influence from one generation to the next and tell the rest of us that we must live entirely differently. How off-putting and oh so very New Labour.

The £296 per independent school pupil saving from the preferential tax treatment (as a result of their charity status) is a tiny fraction of what the state saves in not having to educate these kids. So who is subsidising whom exactly?

TheWordFactory Tue 25-Nov-14 14:35:59

I actually wouldn't mind losing charitable status for private schools. It always seems a bit off to me.

I think the DCs prep school worked out it would cost the parents very little to match it.

Certainly the big schools will simply absorb it.

The small private schools will probably feel it though. Some might close. Which I don't think will make a kit of difference to social mobility if the main players carry on.

pyrrah Tue 25-Nov-14 14:43:41

The big public schools - the ones that the GP think of when you mention the words 'private school' - wouldn't bat an eyelid at an extra £200 a year on the fees. They have so many applicants from the UK and overseas that they are turning away as many as apply already.

The private schools that people forget about are the ones that specialise in things like dyslexia and other issues that can make mainstream schooling more difficult.

If the government of the day really tried to shut private schools down, I imagine that there are plenty of nice chateau in France etc that could house the new Eton etc.

Instead of banging on about private schools - which pisses off people like me (who was educated in the state sector - albeit a grammar - and is educating her child in the state sector).

Instead of berating a group that is highly successful at educating young people, they should start emulating.

It is possible to have amazing state schools. Resource them better and make it easier to remove failing HTs and other teachers. Set high expectations and aspirations.

I'm so bored of the Labour sound bites.

TP - I don't understand why the children or grandchildren of alumni shouldn't be allowed to apply for bursaries? If they meet the criteria then they should be as eligible as anyone else.

Schools don't have many bursaries and afaik, they'd rather hand them to a child who is going to excel and benefit the school, don't think them being old Bill Wotsit's grandchild is really going to be a factor. And if old Bill Wotsit is in favour due to building the new library then grandson won't be applying for a bursary.

pyrrah Tue 25-Nov-14 14:44:59

I thought the older schools couldn't get rid of their charitable status even if they wanted to - which they did as would be cheaper just to add a bit to the fees than deal with government demands?

TalkinPeace Tue 25-Nov-14 15:10:14

I don't understand why the children or grandchildren of alumni shouldn't be allowed to apply for bursaries? If they meet the criteria then they should be as eligible as anyone else.
Schools don't have many bursaries

Schools regularly brag about how many of their kids are getting support
neglect to mention that the kids benefiting from the fee saving are NOT necessarily the brightest
but often the children of the sharp elbowed who know how to play the system and drop their "income" for a couple of years.

If schools had to look outside their normal circle to fulfil their bursary obligations they might be pleasantly surprised and with more families switching between the sectors the divide would be weakened.

Abolishing private schools = total red herring, wish they would just shut up about it

pyrrah Tue 25-Nov-14 15:21:42

I would have thought that a better way to allocate bursaries would be on the basis of need among scholars. That way you are definitely rewarding the 'brightest' among the cohort and that would leave less room for playing the system.

TalkinPeace Tue 25-Nov-14 15:26:43

But that will not widen participation :
A poor family will not even darken the door of Eton or Harrow or Roedean or Benenden unless they can be assured that they have a chance at getting fees support.

The bursary scheme should allocate fee support to a percentage of applicants
and those applicants must NOT be the usual suspects

TheWordFactory Tue 25-Nov-14 15:55:29

I would like to see more full bursaries (including uniform, trips etc).

That way you could open the field considerably. Offering 50% means you're exuding the vast amount of people who couldn't run to the remainder.

TalkinPeace Tue 25-Nov-14 16:05:43


If all the top schools were able to shout from the rooftops
"ten children per year will be given a place based solely on their ability and potential with no cost to the parents above what they would have at the local State school"
it would do a power of good - to both sectors

AuntieStella Tue 25-Nov-14 16:09:26

Well, I think this might founder in the courts, just like the last attempt.

I think the policy is wrong: why do state schools need the input of private ones?

Also, according to The Telegraph, it means an extra £200 per pupil per year (less, perhaps, given that some schools are already doing the kinds of things he's talking about).

Aren't business rates are a local, not central, government thing? So even if there were some money raised this way, it won't make a smudge if difference to the education spend.

And fiddling with exemptions for charities strikes me as a slippery path to head down. Especially when the 'benefit' will be considerably less than he would like it to appear.

Has he said anything about the bigger issue? How to improve state schools?

MN164 Tue 25-Nov-14 16:46:44

I don't have a problem with a public school graduate, like Hunt, coming up with Education policy .... if it's good policy. I don't care who does the job, so long as the job is done well and to everyone's benefit.

TP, I have done a fair amount of the rounds in London (north and west) and I haven't found many (if any) schools that only looked at income for bursaries. They all look at income and capital, including the family home, investments and mortgages. It's a pretty effective "lock out" from bursaries to middle income families (think doctors not bankers) that are now living in a house that is worth millions, even if they paid a quarter of that some time ago. Nobody should weep over this, but it does mean that to get a real bursary you need to have no equity in house or live on rent with no more than the living wage for London or less. Consequently, the 10% or so of bursaries in London are probably ones helping "social mobility" the most.

MN164 Tue 25-Nov-14 17:03:45


Totally agree to on "all inclusive" bursaries.

The problem is not so much that they don't do this. Almost all the schools I know do provide comprehensive (forgive the ironic pun) bursaries to cover all (except for ski-trips) for those who "need" it. They often waive the registration/exam fee.

The problem is that the private schools don't have an effective outreach programme into state primary schools. I guess they fear the backlash from being seen to actively "poach" kids and heads are often politically resistant to allowing it.

For example, I went to our state primary head to explain that I had done a lot of research and good knowledge of the schools in London. I said I would be happy to talk to any parent that might be considering it for their child was put off by the complexity, time consuming nature, cost, and needs guidance through the minefield of application procedures etc. The offer was politely declined. There are plenty of decent state schools for our children to go to........

I think Hunt's idea that private schools can "help" state schools might be met with some resistance from the schools themselves.

Inthedarkaboutfashion Tue 25-Nov-14 17:11:39

I just wish politicians would look at ways of improving state schools instead of constantly coming out with the idea that private schools need to do more to help. It's just shifting responsibility.
Private schools are not to blame for some state schools failing. Nobody suggests that failing private schools should be assisted by good state schools.
Let's just concentrate on making every state school outstanding without looking to the private sector to help with that.

Toomanyhouseguests Tue 25-Nov-14 17:12:34

Clavinova I think you've sussed it:

The Government of the day should concentrate more on reducing the vast gulf between outstanding state schools and poor state schools, not outstanding private schools and poor state schools.

Always easier to pick a fight than to roll your sleeves up and get on with the actual job in front of you.

LittleBearPad Tue 25-Nov-14 17:25:43

It's yet another sound bite that will sound like they're planning to do something but which in reality will make bugger all difference to anyone. They're full of hot air.

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