‘All MPs should send their children to state schools’

By politics.co.uk staff

MPs are duty-bound to send their children to state schools, according to the chairman of the Commons education and skills committee.

Writing in today’s Fabian Review, Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, said party leaders should set an example with their children.

“Elected representatives in public office should lead by example and send their children to the kind of community schools that their constituents send their children to,” he wrote.

“We are in the unique position where all three party leaders have young children and – admirably – all three look likely to stay in the state sector.

“We have the chance to embed this change and to build cross-party consensus by asking MPs to follow their leaders’ example, and to sign up to a commitment to use the state sector and to encourage others to do so.”

Mr Sheerman, who went to Hampton Grammar School, which later became independent in 1975, went on to attack MPs who choose to put their children in the private sector.

“I have been disheartened to hear MPs who represent affluent south-east constituencies declaring that they cannot find state schools good enough for their children,” he argued.

“Not only do I not believe this, I am convinced that community schools can only be made better when all of the community supports them. Education is not a commodity it is our preparation for a democratic society.”

The Labour MP reserved some of his ire for the prevalence of privately educated employees in the media, and their regular attacks on the state school system.

“The dominance of ex-private school children in positions of influence and leadership within British society has been well-documented,” he said.

“The BBC, full, as we know from Sutton Trust research, of privately educated managers and journalists, follows slavishly in this same rut. In this context, just how objective and impartial can the Beeb’s educational coverage be?”

Outside parliament Mr Sheerman is chair of the National Educational Research and Development Trust, and a trustee of the National Children’s Centre.