Huge excitement today about Ruth Kelly's decision to send her child to a fee paying school. I absolutely support her decision to do what is right for her own family. And I would have supported her even if there were no special personal circumstances relating to the child. And I supported the Blair's decision to opt out - and Dianne Abbott's decision to go private as well. Where I disagree with Ruth Kelly is in her inference that such a decision wouldn't have been right if her child did not have a learning difficulty. She is claiming that her local council agree thet it cannot supply the special teaching - but Tower Hamlets Council's statements haven't exactly been helpful to her cause.
But I utterly detest the hypocracy. Labour is the enemy of private education and never misses the chance to undermine public schools. Yet, so often in their personal lives, leading Labour figures seek advantage for their own. And why not. Anyway what's the difference between buying advantage in a public school and buying advantage through paying for additional private tuition, (which is now commonplace) or buying advantage through moving house into the catchment area of a better school, which two Assembly Members were recently accused of.
I faced this dilemma myself over 20 yrs ago. I was Vice Chairman of Welshpool High School Governors, when our eldest moved there from the excellent primary school at Berriew, in Montgomeryshire where we live. The first two terms at the High School were a total disaster. It was only a major committment by his mother that pulled the situation around. We agonised about what to do - but once we accepted that Welshpool High School wasn't right for us, we decided to send the other three to the nearby public schools at Shrewsbury and Moreton Hall. At the time, we did not know whether we would be able to afford it for more than a year or two. We hoped it would work out. I felt that I had no choice but to immediately resign from the High School's Governing body. I don't know whether Ruth Kelly was Education Secretary when she made the decision about her child.