A group of Labour activists have launched a campaign against fee-paying schools under the name “Abolish Eton”.
The group, called Labour Against Private Schools, want their party to integrate schools, including Eton, into the state system.
It has launched a Twitter handle called @AbolishEton and is circulating a motion for the Labour Party conference in September asking for the schools to be stripped of their privileges.
Boris Johnson, the frontrunner in the Tory leadership race, would become the 20th prime minister to be educated at Eton, should he win the contest against Jeremy Hunt, himself schooled at private Charterhouse.
The Abolish Eton campaign has the backing of a number of Labour MPs, including former party leader Ed Miliband, shadow treasury minister Clive Lewis and former teachers Thelma Walker and Laura Smith.
A third of all British Prime Ministers were educated at Eton. Boris Johnson will be number 20.— Labour Against Private Schools (@AbolishEton) July 9, 2019
The class segregation and hoarding of power + privilege by elite private schools must end.
Pass the motion in your CLP: https://t.co/1ydaxZF8hi
It's time for Labour to #AbolishEton pic.twitter.com/rSuRt9fJR8
Holly Rigby, the campaign’s co-ordinator and a teacher at a state school, told The Guardian: “There is no justification for the fact that young people’s opportunity to flourish and fulfil their potential is still determined by the size of their parents’ bank balance.”
She said past Labour governments had not done enough to tackle the class divide in the country’s education system.
“It’s about time we finished the job,” she said.
Mr Lewis said: “Private schools are anachronistic engines of privilege that simply have no place in the 21st century.
“We cannot claim to have an education system that is socially just when children in private schools continue to have 300% more spent on their education than children in state schools.”
It currently costs up to £40,000 for a year’s fees at Eton.
Mike Buchanan, executive director of the Headmasters’ & Headmistresses’ Conference, said: “Independent schools play a vital role in the mixed economy of the country’s education system.
“If they were harmed the state would end up picking up the cost – a bill of billions of pounds.
“Moreover, these excellent schools are creating life-changing free places for children from disadvantaged backgrounds and expanding daily, their mutually beneficial partnerships with state schools.”