Notts County council leader says private school ‘changed his life’

Nottinghamshire County Council Leader and Mansfield Conservative MP Ben Bradley.
By Jamie Waller, Local Democracy Reporter

The leader of Nottinghamshire County Council has defended private schools, saying a Labour tax on them would mean parents like his own would be unable to afford them.

Labour is proposing a 20 per cent VAT charge on private schools, potentially raising £1.6b per year for state schools, if it wins the forthcoming 2024 General Election.

Councillor Ben Bradley (Con) spoke about the huge sacrifices his parents made to send him to Derby Grammar School after being asked to leave his primary school.

He told a full council meeting yesterday (May 16) that poorer families would be priced out of private schools if they were forced to raise fees to cover the higher tax.

About 4,000 children in Nottinghamshire currently attend private schools.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found higher fees would mean seven per cent of parents would be driven to the state sector, Cllr Bradley said.

This would mean the county council, who is responsible for education, would need to find around 300 extra places.

“The idea that all parents who send their children to private schools are rich is for the birds,” he told the meeting.

“My primary school decided they couldn’t deal with me at the end of Year Five for various reasons. My parents sold their house, they sold their cars, they downsized, they cancelled our holidays in order to send me to Derby Grammar School and it changed my life.

“Parents who make those sacrifices would no longer be able to do that under that plan.”

He said it would lead to a “postcode lottery” with families needing to live in more affluent areas to access the best schools.

Labour councillors didn’t respond to the claims in the meeting.

Party leader Keir Starmer previously said the policy would mean “mental health staff in every school, more expert teachers in the classroom, more creativity, speaking skills, confidence”.

He said: “I’m very comfortable with private schools but I want our state schools to be just as good, so it doesn’t matter whether you send your child to private school or to state school because you’ll get equal chances in life.”

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)