I WAS shocked by the very partisan front page headline "HANDS OFF!" in last week's County Gazette and the follow-up story inside which gave a platform for headteachers and other supporters of private education to attack Labour's conference proposals and to defend our extremely unfair education system - which is the basis of the widening inequality gap in our society and the maintenance of a system of privilege whereby the 7% of our children who attend private schools occupy more than 50% of top jobs in our high-prestige professions and industries.

Please let us have a level playing field in this debate.

Where was the opportunity in that edition of the Gazette for headteachers from our cash-strapped state schools to explain the problems of providing a first class education to their students on less than a third of the money spent on students in the private sector, a budget that allocates 8% less per pupil since the Tories came to power in 2010?

READ MORE: Private schools react to Labour plan to 'integrate' facilities and abolish tax breaks

If the private schools were integrated into a single national education service, as Labour proposes, all the educational resources of the country would be shared fairly amongst all of our children.

Is that not a goal we should be pursuing?


EDITOR'S NOTE: Thanks for the letter Mr Waddilove.

I am sorry you feel our front page was 'partisan'. That was absolutely not the intention and in a time of intensely partisan political debate, I thought I'd take a moment to respond.

While the story did include the response of private schools in the Deane to Labour's plan, the party's policy proposal was explained in significant details - both on the front page and the inside story - in a bid to enable readers to form their own opinions.

At no point did the Gazette give an opinion on the proposal, or the response, but instead gave the policy detail and the schools' response in a bid to keep readers informed on the debate.

In fact, we were determined to give the policy a 'fair' showing on the front page, hence the inclusion of Labour MP (and Shadow Education Secretary) Angela Rayner's comments regarding the plan's aims to 'make the education system fairer' and to abolish tax breaks for private schools. 

We are endeavouring to follow up on the story - and would indeed be happy to feature more responses (particularly from state schools, although such a political debate is something many are reluctant to comment on, as I'm sure you can imagine).

Again, I'm sorry you felt it was weighted in any direction, and can only apologise as that was not - and would never be - the intention.

Somerset County Gazette: