Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Harriet: School Choice letter.


2nd April 2007

Dear xxxxx,

I am pleased to have the opportunity to set the record straight and assure you that none of my children went to private school.

I would like to answer the following questions:

*"Did you send your children to private schools?"

No, none of my children went to private schools at any time during their education

*"Do your support comprehensive education?"

Yes, I do support comprehensive education and think it is an essential part of Labour's mission to ensure that there is a good school in every area.

*"Do you believe that the opportunities of the young should be based on parental income?"

No, I do not and I believe it is the most basic duty of government to ensure opportunities for every child and to tackle inequality.

Our local school was failing badly (it subsequently had to be closed and a new school re-opened on the site), so I searched for the best schools in the state system that I could find for them. One of my children went to a state grammar school (there was no interview and they did not know who the parents were). This was under the Tory government 11 years ago.

The local school in my area has, under the Labour government and the Labour Council, now been transformed. The new Charter School offers children in this area a good comprehensive education. But it is regrettable that still not all schools have been turned around. Most parents, like me, would prefer the local school - but not if it is failing. It's our task to ensure that they can choose to go to the local school or further afield if they want. But that should be choice, not the necessity to avoid a failing school.

I'm not surprised you asked if I sent my children to private school. That is what the newspapers led people to believe. There was such a row about my school choice at the time that I felt that to correct it would only make the story run on further.

Thank you for raising this issue. I hope it has clarified my position and that it won’t affect your decision in the upcoming Deputy Leadership race.

Best wishes,

Harriet Harman QC MP


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