Bridget Phillipson’s Response to Criticism
Bridget Phillipson, the shadow education secretary, has offered a strong response to critics of Labour’s plans to remove tax exemptions from private schools.
Her comments came in reaction to reports in The Guardian that officials from the Independent Schools Council (ISC) had described her as “very chippy” in private messages.
Embracing the “Chippy” Label
Addressing the Labour Party Conference on its final day, Phillipson proudly embraced the “chippy” label, stating that “chippy people make the change that matters.”
She emphasized the need for high and rising standards in education to be accessible to all, regardless of their financial means.
Ending Tax Breaks for Private Schools
Phillipson reaffirmed Labour’s commitment to ending tax breaks enjoyed by private schools.
While the party had recently backed down on stripping them of their charitable status, they remain dedicated to imposing a 20% VAT on fees and ending business rates relief, both of which are significant tax privileges for private schools.
Ambitious Reform in Early Education
The shadow education secretary also unveiled Labour’s plans for reforming early years education provision.
She expressed her determination to make quality early education available to every family and child across the country.
Early Education Plan Development
To realize this vision, Sir David Bell, former permanent secretary at the Department for Education and former chief inspector of schools, will lead the development of Labour’s new early years plan.
Addressing Maths Provision
Phillipson responded to Rishi Sunak’s proposal to extend maths provision to age 18 in schools.
She stressed the importance of introducing practical numeracy skills early in education, suggesting that waiting until age 16 is too late.
A Focus on Numeracy Skills
Highlighting Labour’s commitment to promoting numeracy skills, Phillipson pledged to ensure that maths is better taught from a young age, as they did with reading standards during the last Labour government.
Welcoming Labour’s Plans
The National Education Union welcomed Labour’s plans, emphasizing the need for collaboration between the teaching profession and the government.
They expressed support for a focus on early education and the importance of numeracy skills, emphasizing the need to address funding issues and establish strong foundations in nursery schools.
An ISC spokeswoman acknowledged a shared goal with Labour in pursuing the best outcomes for every child and expressed a willingness to work together toward achieving this goal.