Yep, theft

The party’s conference has endorsed a proposal to end “hierarchy, elitism and selection in education” in which private schools would have assets redistributed to those that do not charge fees.

67 thoughts on “Yep, theft”

  1. Socialists have a problem with elitism I get that. But their solution is never to improve things for everyone else is it? All they ever want to do is tear things down to the lowest level. Regarding theft, the kind of idiots who vote for state theft never imagine that, once the precedent has been set, nobody’s stuff is safe. Once property rights have gone, everything else will follow them down the drain of economic ruin.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    Get a working majority on 35% of a lowish turnover (as Blair did) is a democratic mandate for theft.

    Winning 52% of a huge turnout is just people not knowing what they were doing and can be safely ignored.

    And they wonder why we despise them.

  3. Thing is.I can’t see many people being attracted to bashing private schools. I’d bet that the 7% who actually use them outnumber those who want them abolished, and care more too.

  4. @Pat: The way to get them upset is to ponder there additional tax that will need to be raised to pay for the state education of the children whose parents currently pay for it.

  5. What do we want?
    An end to private education!

    When do we want it?
    Once Justin and Jocasta have finished sixth form.

  6. I had some socialist ranting at me about private schools not paying tax blah blah blah. I mentioned that they save they country a fortune because without them the government would have to pay to educate about 10% more kids. He just stopped dead when I said that and said he had never thought about that. How could that not cross their commie minds?

  7. As I recall, the complex continental rights system enforced by the EU requires parents to be able to educate their children as they like. I wonder if Labour’s plans to nationalise education would fall foul of this law?

  8. Is the Left’s hatred of public schools a peculiarly British thing? I don’t recall any American leftie, even the Bernie Bros, wanting to nationalise, say, Phillips Exeter.

  9. Bloke in North Dorset

    I had some socialist ranting at me about private schools not paying tax blah blah blah. I mentioned that they save they country a fortune because without them the government would have to pay to educate about 10% more kids. He just stopped dead when I said that and said he had never thought about that. How could that not cross their commie minds?

    Is that the case though? I would argue that they would be dispersed fairly evenly and therefore schools could absorb 2 or 3 extra pupils per year without any major costs. That assumes they would be sent to State schools and not shipped off abroad.

    Not that I’m advocating the policy, but is always good to build a steel man so you can set up your arguments, which is its about freedom and not money.

  10. @ Sam Jones
    Abroad like the members of the Chinese Communist elite.
    Wasn’t Neil Heywood killed for getting Bo Xilai’s son into Harrow instead of Eton?

  11. ” I’d bet that the 7% who actually use them outnumber those who want them abolished,”

    While about 7% of pupils at any one given time are privately educated that rises to over double for pupils aged 16-18.

    So a better metric for support for private education would be what percentage of parents with kids who have just left school have used private education at some point during their education. As a person who uses state education to age 11 say, then private school thereafter is under the 7% calculation excluded from being considered a private school supporter while their kids are young.
    When one adds in the people who’d like to send their kids to private school but can’t afford it its quite easy to think that a good 25-30% of the population are either actively involved in or would like to be involved in private education. Thats a pretty hefty chuck of the population to piss off. Especially when the % of the population who are malevolent enough to want to destroy it is certainly far less than that.

  12. You know your country is in deep shit when the Establishment newspaper describes outright theft as “redistributing assets”.

  13. Is that the case though? I would argue that they would be dispersed fairly evenly and therefore schools could absorb 2 or 3 extra pupils per year without any major costs. That assumes they would be sent to State schools and not shipped off abroad.

    Yes it is the case – school funding is per head.

  14. I’d shift my whole outfit abroad, get the UK pupils and the foreigners to come with me, take the staff and the business model. Switzerland maybe? The market for purchased privilege is not going away.

  15. “I would argue that they would be dispersed fairly evenly and therefore schools could absorb 2 or 3 extra pupils per year without any major costs.”

    Dispersed by who, and how exactly?

    Ignoring that, I think that the distribution of private schools and pupils is not even.

    Fairly obviously, given the fees involved, there has to be fair amount of free cash knocking around in the household, either income (high wages), savings or secure assets that can support any debt drawn down.

    Looks like mainly the South East to me.

    Which would be somewhat amusing, as it would be the education budgets in that region that would be required to expand faster than elsewhere, leading to the obvious whining.

    Unless someone wanted to disperse them all up North.

  16. Bloke in North Dorset – it would not be increasing headcount by just 2 or 3 though.
    My wife’s school was the only state high school in the area, massively oversubscribed each year and kids not getting in due to lack of space, parents appealed and appeal allowed. No one wanted their kid bussed off to another town when a school is within walking distance.
    There were multiple private schools covering the area – shut those and the intake per year would go up by probably 150. To a school that is oversubscribed with 300 kids per year.

    The school my brother and sister went to, maybe 20 kids a year as a share of catchment area, several state high schools covering the same areas. That’s 20 per school – whether the school has the classrooms, staff, facilities or not.

  17. “market for purchased privilege” – If the privilege you refer to is a “better” education how can anyone straight face deny a better education to an individual? Or, for that matter, to society?

  18. Incidentally, its a good thing, if Labour make this their policy. No-one is currently saying ‘I really want to vote Labour but I can’t until they promise to abolish private schools’ whereas a lot of people will be saying ‘Well I could vote Labour, but I also fancy giving my kid the best education I can, so thats them out then’

    Its a policy that appeals to people who wouldn’t vote for anyone other than Labour anyway, and drives away those on the fringes of voting for them. More such policies I say!

  19. Given the ratio of pupils to teachers is different for private schools most likely this would result in a net decrease in teacher positions, can’t see the NUT being happy with that

  20. Its a policy that appeals to people who wouldn’t vote for anyone other than Labour anyway, and drives away those on the fringes of voting for them. More such policies I say!

    Yes, up till now the middle-class support for Labour can just assume it is pretend, but things will get real enough soon. I wonder if they realise that the middle-classes are the first target of every extreme-Left government that has ever won power?

  21. @ Rob
    No, the second.
    They kill off political leaders (centre-left to right on the spectrum) first in order to eliminate any threat to their control.

  22. The NUT won’t really care about the change in the number of teachers, as they would be more interested in increasing leverage over the remaining employer, being the government. If the number of pupils increases, then the remaining teachers have to be doing more work, so wages gotta go up.

    Best guess would be that accompanying the wage demands (on a total compensation basis), would be increased barriers to entry, so all the teaching assistants would get fucked, assuming they aren’t already.

  23. Hallowed Be: Purchased privilege is what it is. I express no disapproval of it, money is for improving your lot and how to spend it is (or ought to be) your own choice. But privilege? Do you believe all the Etonians are doing so well purely because they got a better education, or does it come with other benefits?

  24. BinND,

    What about boarding schools? Many pupils have to board. I was at boarding school and there were a lot of kids whose parents are overseas (military, oil industry, diplomats, etc, etc). The country unavoidably requires some of its workers to be overseas. Banning private schools would necessitate opening state boarding schools! If they were as wonderful as any other state run residential institution (prisons, borstal, care homes, etc) then we’d rapidly lose the ability to post people overseas.

  25. Jim said:
    “So a better metric for support for private education would be what percentage of parents with kids who have just left school have used private education at some point during their education.”

    Good point.

    To add to it, there are also parents who send their children to private prep schools to get them into a State grammar (in the areas that have them). It’s seen as the cheap option – 2 or 3 years at a prep school, gets them into a decent State school which saves a fortune on secondary school fees.

    So, as you say, the total who use private schools will be well over the 7% who are there at any one time.

  26. “Do you believe all the Etonians are doing so well purely because they got a better education, or does it come with other benefits?”

    I would hazard a guess that in terms of ranking the advantages a pupil at Eton has number 1 would be the existing family connections of the sort of people who send their kids to Eton, number 2 would be the quality of education, and bringing up the rear would be the ‘Old School Tie’ effect, which as far as I can see is virtually zero these days.

    Put it this way, I suspect that the likes of David Cameron do far better after leaving Eton than a contemporaneous pupil who had won a scholarship and whose parents lived in a council house. They get the same education, they hobnob with the same other pupils, but one has a far greater chance of ending up Prime Minister than the other.

  27. “…one has a far greater chance of ending up Prime Minister than the other.

    I’m not sure how many pupils Eton has had since 1900 but it’s produced 6 Prime Ministers since then so I’d have thought the chances of someone going to even Eton and then being PM were pretty remote.

    Oddly, they seem to come in bunches. Three in a row between 1955 and 1964 but then none until Cameron and now BoJo.

  28. The Meissen Bison OE

    rhoda klapp: I’d shift my whole outfit abroad,

    Yes! The battle of Eton would be won on the playing fields of Waterloo!

  29. As it happens, I was at Eton last night for a free public concert to inaugurate a new grand piano, with a leading young pianist (Federico Colli). Top notch!

    While ~75% of pupils are there because their family can afford the fees (Quis paget entrat, as the Eye’s St Cake’s has it) and can pass Common Entrance, the remaining quarter are on scholarships and ferociously bright and talented. They would doubtless do very well wherever they went to school, but having access to Eton-level facilities and teaching can’t hurt.

  30. Given how many of the British private schools now have overseas sites (Harrow, for example, has branches in Beijing, Hong Kong and Bangkok) I bet if Labour got into power all the assets would be transferred abroad pretty sharpish.

  31. The legal implications of this will be fascinating. Presumably Labour can’t nationalise without compensation, which would be considerable?

    Labour could ban charging for education, although how they could do this without banning tutoring/homeschooling isn’t clear. And they certainly couldn’t stop people sending their kids abroad for education.

  32. If any government wanted to destroy UK private education, they would achieve at least a 75% success rate by restoring the grammar schools. Its not the smaller class sizes, sporting facilities for everything under the sun, or educational trips to Papua New Guinea to enhance one’s wokeness. It is ensuring that your child is in the company of those with a minimum level of intelligence and motivation via competitive examination, and ensuring those without those qualities can be booted out. One disruptive screwup can wreck the education of everyone in the same class.

  33. Sam Jones: And they certainly couldn’t stop people sending their kids abroad for education.

    A McDonnell government could reintroduce exchange controls in a flash. Indeed this would probably need to happen in any case to reduce capital flight.

    Travel documents could be invalidated and only reissued for approved persons. Ports and airports could become high security areas, out of bounds to ordinary citizens.

    And so on and so on…

  34. @Sam jones

    Interestingly when they nationalised the hospitals they did not pay any compensation

    https://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2008/07/anthony-scholef-2.html

    I’m guessing that it would breach ECHR article 1 of protocol 1.

    http://echr-online.info/right-to-property-article-1-of-protocol-1-to-the-echr/introduction/

    Although I suppose it could be argued that “it was in the general interest”. I’m not sure what would happen – assume that compensation was paid to Eton when they lost their stuff, what would the college then do with the money?

  35. “Presumably Labour can’t nationalise without compensation, which would be considerable?”

    Try and identify the owners of a charity.

  36. Andrew C,

    “I’m not sure how many pupils Eton has had since 1900 but it’s produced 6 Prime Ministers since then so I’d have thought the chances of someone going to even Eton and then being PM were pretty remote.”

    This is always the problem with the “massive connections from private school” theory. If it was so good, why aren’t far more privately educated kids in the cabinet? How did Javid, Truss, Leadsom and some others get in there when the whole thing is sewn up by the public school kids?

    Sure, they’re over represented, but I suspect this is about attrition in politics (and also applies in other areas like acting). It can take years to become an MP, years where it’s costing you money. If you’ve got rich parents who will keep you, you can do a low-paid job you love for far longer.

    I think this is also why major newspapers are so stuffed with the privately educated and women. If you’re a reporter writing for the Guardian, the salary starts at £30K. In London. Nurses and programmers in Chippenham make more than that.

  37. Had a look at the “details” (there aren’t any in the actual policy, but there’s some stuff from the people promoting it).

    What they are doing is technically not theft. It’s much more devious than that.

    Commercial private education will still be legal (but it’ll be taxed as a business). They aren’t going to take assets from existing commercial operators (but there are basically zero of these because all the private schools in the UK are charities).

    Charities will not be allowed to charge for education and, if they are operating a school (ie fulfilling the compulsory education requirement for children), they lose the right to choose who attends the school. So they can choose to educate whoever the government sends them for free (and presumably run out of money after a while), or they can wind up the school.

    But any assets (e.g. the building) are charitable assets, and it’s illegal to transfer charitable assets to anything other than a charity. And they can’t change the purpose of their charity without permission of the government (which won’t be forthcoming). So the charity has to wind up and transfer all of its assets to … the special school charity that the government is going to set up, which will then turn it all over to the Department for Education. That will be the only thing they can legally do with their assets.

    So … it’s not stealing the money as such, because the money is charitable, which means that, unlike normal personal or corporate assets, there isn’t a beneficial owner as such – there’s a legal person who owns it (the charity), but the trustees merely have the use of the assets for such purposes as appear in the deed of trust. Since the purpose is to promote the education of children, and the only (legal) charitable way to do that will be to give it to the Department of Education, the charities will just pay all their assets to the Department of Education, or else get done over by the Charity Commission.

    What I expect Eton to do if this ever happens is to create a new Eton College Limited, and then raise enough money through debt, equity sales, and begging for gifts from alumni to buy the Eton’s buildings from “The Kynge’s College of Our Ladye of Eton Besyde Windesore” (charity 1139086) and establish a “new” school in the buildings and offer places to all the existing pupils and jobs to all the existing staff. The charity then hands over its, now liquid, assets to the Government (both the money from the sale of the buildings and the existing endowment) and ECL carries on running Eton on a now fully-commercial basis.

    They can’t seize the buildings without compensation, but they can force Eton to buy them from itself and hand over the proceeds because Eton is a charity and they can change what the legal purposes of a charity are (and any charity operating on the no-longer charitable purposes has to use its assets for a charitable purpose; it can’t legally switch to being non-charitable).

  38. “Presumably Labour can’t nationalise without compensation, which would be considerable?”
    I’ve been arguing this point elsewhere, and the response is: any law can be enacted to do anything, including not compensating for nationalisation.

    Yep folks. Round up, round up. Foreigners! Please invest in our country, where there is zero guarantee that anything you spend money on won’t be nicked by the government. In fact, a stated policy to actively nick your stuff.

  39. Ports and airports could become high security areas, out of bounds to ordinary citizens.

    Presumably this security will only apply going out – wide open for those coming in.

  40. @Jim

    The classic paper in this field says that returns to entering a highly selective college (US for university) is very high for those who start without networks (minorities) and low for those with networks (whites)

    https://www.nber.org/papers/w17159

    Nothing I can find on UK private education returns however.

  41. I had a look at a couple of private schools I have done work at.
    The buildings and land – not owned by the school. So the government tries to grab the assets and then realise the private school is a renter – the assets belong to someone else who may well be happier letting houses be built on all that land in the community!

    Cannot quite see even Jezza getting away with trying to steal land from the next King!

  42. “The classic paper in this field says that returns to entering a highly selective college (US for university) is very high for those who start without networks (minorities) and low for those with networks (whites)”

    Well yes, if Joe Wrong Side of the Tracks goes to Harvard, his return on that opportunity will be stellar, because the alternative was probably ending up in a factory in Nowheresville. Whereas if Blaine My Fathers a Senator goes to Harvard, his return will be significantly less, because his family connections would have got him a sinecure somewhere anyway.

    What would be more interesting to discover was whether the Blaines of Harvard outperform the Joes, ie do the connected types end up better off than the unconnected in absolute terms? I’d guess they do, in aggregate.

  43. Rob: Presumably this security will only apply going out – wide open for those coming in.

    My memories of crossing the border into East Germany suggests that demand will be manageable.

  44. Rhoda- “Do you believe all the Etonians are doing so well purely because they got a better education, or does it come with other benefits?”

    um… well to be honest i don’t know. . I suppose the coldstream guards are a “better” regiment than the logistics corp but i can’t say i’d want to do without either.

    I don’t like the term ‘purchased privilege’ because it evokes purchased honours (where money replaces the service ostensibly being honoured)

    In this case money, buys the education of a young man. Yes i take education in the expansive sense. The ethos, the traditions, the peers, the alumni support, facilities etc not just ingestion, retention and regurgitation of the curriculum. But on top of all that the source of the money is the source of the privilege. So you can’t really ascribe deserving or undeserving in the way people seem to. I want a meritocratic society but there is no reason to back up labour’s claim that you get a better society if you somehow mechanically reset every generation.

  45. @Richard Gadsen

    “and it’s illegal to transfer charitable assets to anything other than another charity”

    Eh? Which law would that break? A charity owns a property. You’re saying it could only sell it to another charity? Sounds………unlikely

  46. Some interesting points in the BBC analysis
    -potentially 600k pupils which is more than the total number of pupils in public education in Wales so not a trivial number
    -what about special needs schools? I have a relative that attended a school that dealt with autistic kids and I recall a school that took on dyslexic kids. Shutting these down is likely to look a lot different to shutting down Eton so how will they distinguish
    -as above what about faith based schools not already part of the public system that are more discriminating about intake than the public faith schools are allowed to be

    They want to close the perceived elitist schools but the majority of private schools small local organisations

  47. As I recall, the complex continental rights system enforced by the EU requires parents to be able to educate their children as they like.

    Nope, education is still per country. For example, home schooling is illegal in Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands whilst legal in France, Ireland and the UK.

  48. @BiND

    Edinburgh (pop ~500,000) has ~70,000 children in Public schools (most are day schools), the few boarding schools are mostly day pupils too

    Lot more than 2 or 3 extra pupils per year

    Plus what abacab said

    .
    @squawkbox September 23, 2019 at 4:05 pm

    +1

  49. @Richard Gadsden September 23, 2019 at 5:15 pm

    Timmy and you should joint author some articles on this

    .
    @Andrew C

    Richard is saying the charity can sell to anyone, but money it receives remains in the charity.

    Maybe the charity could pay the teachers who then work voluntarily in Eton Ltd

  50. “I’m not sure how many pupils Eton has had since 1900 but it’s produced 6 Prime Ministers since then so I’d have thought the chances of someone going to even Eton and then being PM were pretty remote.

    Oddly, they seem to come in bunches. Three in a row between 1955 and 1964 but then none until Cameron and now BoJo.”

    Since virtually all of them were abject failures, bar the two who didn’t attend the school, it’s difficult to make a case pro or anti Eton.

  51. Bloke in North Dorset

    Pcar,

    Edinburgh (pop ~500,000) has ~70,000 children in Public schools (most are day schools), the few boarding schools are mostly day pupils too

    I find it hard to believe that 14% of the population of Edinburgh are of school age let alone in private education, mostly as day pupils.

    Have you been using Guardian articles for your research 😉

    According to Google the pop looks about right. According to Edinburgh council the city region population is closer to 1.4m .

    According to that same document there’s about 60k in public schools and 11k in independent schools but doesn’t separate day and boarding pupils. According to this article the 11k includes East Lothian.

    According to the 2019 ISC census across the whole sector about 13% of pupils are boarding so that gives about 10k day pupils in the East Lothian region. However as Edinburgh and East Lothian includes some famous boarding schools and colleges I suspect the number of boarders is much higher.

    I’ll leave my neck out and stick to my original contention.
    And for the avoidance of doubt I am not advocating or even defending Labour’s policy.

  52. Caution, m’Lud – this will only be enacted as part of Conference Composite 101 incorporating the establishment of People’s Judges which may be less than entirely compatible with your continued and successful practice.

    There might conceivably be an opening as keeper of the General Secretary’s allotment but I worry that this might be of the horticultural rather than the legal kind.

  53. Richard Gadsden

    Pcar has beaten me to it wrt the concept, but – with the new liquid assets (cash) post sale of the infrastructure assets – is there anything to stop Eton Charity now offering bursaries / scholarships to the new Eton Ltd outfit (or other schools)? That would be quite charitable?

  54. @Chris Miller: “the remaining quarter are on scholarships and ferociously bright and talented. They would doubtless do very well wherever they went to school”

    No they damn well wouldn’t.
    Eton and other such schools actually celebrate and stimulate talent.
    State schools, where the lowest common denominator rules unchecked… Not so much. Rather the contrary.

  55. It would seem the commentariat here are firmly in favour of private education. But one would have to ask why?
    The private schools are a bastion of the middle classes. The same “educated” middle classes have spearheaded moves to overturn the referendum result and in the process destroy democracy in the UK. The products of the private school system are vastly over-represented amongst those with greatest influence in the country. And what have they wrought? You can virtually guarantee any of the completely barking aspects of policy – climate change legislation, the right to self identify as what ever sex you fancy, even the parlous state of State education…( the list is so long there may not ever be enough pixels to cover it )- have a public schoolboy or girl lurking behind them. These are the people who have presided over the decline of a great nation to be the laughing stock of the world.
    Yet you think this institution has merit?

  56. @Grikath

    The top few percent will do well whatever education system they experience (though they’ll do better at Eton than their local comp). It would help if they were identified early and placed in specialist schools – we do that for sports and music, why not for STEM subjects, too?

    But the real difference education can make is what it does with the kids in the middle. Does it raise them up towards the best or push them down to the lowest common denominator?

  57. @ Chris Miller
    If the bright kids gets regularly beaten up (with the teacher turning a blind eye or, even worse, encouraging it) for being visibly cleverer than the rest of the class (and, often, the teacher) then they will not do well.
    “It would help if they were identified early and placed in specialist schools – we do that for sports and music, why not for STEM subjects, too?” Because ex-Public Schoolboy Tony Crosland determined to destroy the Grammar Schools that provided social mobility, giving bright working-class children an opportunity to “better themselves” by using their brains, not just their muscles, in adult life.

  58. @BiND

    Figure was from a search I did a few months ago; added up pupils at each public school: Academy – Watsons

    I know from being at one that some day pupils are from outside Edinburgh (EH postcode), no idea on numbers – one friend was from Falkirk (FK); one from Dunfermline (KY); one from Perth (PH)…

    Regardless
    “60k in state schools and 11k in independent schools” – that’s ~16% attending public schools

    Huge taxpayer cost if they all moved to state schools

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