Leaked WhatsApps expose secret plot to disrupt Labour’s non-public faculties plan

Leaked WhatsApps expose a secret plot to disrupt Labour’s plan to end tax breaks for private schools.

A viral message urges parents to create “panic” by pretending they’re going to move their kids to a state school.

Labour has said it will end the VAT exemption on independent school fees if it wins the election to pay for 6,500 extra teachers in ordinary primary and secondary schools. But Rishi Sunak and his Cabinet, crammed full of privately-educated Tories, have rejected the idea.

A message being circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook groups for parents whose children attend private school encourages them to try and undermine the plan. It tells them to contact their local authority pretending their child needs a state school place even though they have no plan to withdraw them from their current school.

The message is being circulated on WhatsApp groups

The message is being spread on WhatsApp

It calls for parents to create 'panic'

It calls for parents to create ‘panic’

Parents are encouraged to fill in a template letter to their local council that states: “I’m looking for a place for my child to start school in September 2024 due to having to remove them from private school if Labour adds VAT to fees. Please could you tell me what options I have and where there is availability?”

The message circulating among parents says the aim is to worry the teaching unions that classes will be overwhelmed with extra pupils. “It’s important they start panicking about the flood of applications coming in and the reality of the situation – even if you have no intention of moving your child,” it says.

The message claims the “most likely scenario” is the teaching unions will block the plan if they see “the number of applications for state school places”. “Therefore if we can all make a concerted effort to email our councils and enquire about a school place for September 2024 we can hopefully help to make waves with this,” it adds.

Listen to our punchy General Election podcast The Division Bell


Listen to our new The Division Bell podcast, hosted by Mirror political editor John Stevens and Express political editor Sam Lister.

Each episode will see John and Sam go head-to-head on a political topic – so listeners can expect a lively discussion!

New episodes are available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the General Election campaign, with a special edition on the morning after polling day.

Labour expects to raise over £1.5billion from applying VAT and business rates to private schools. The money will be used to pay for 6,500 expert teachers, improve training for headteachers and create 3,300 nurseries in primary schools to boost the availability of childcare

Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson has dismissed claims that ending the tax breaks for private schools will lead to bigger class sizes in ordinary schools. She has said it will actually ease pressure thanks to the extra teachers it will pay for.

Labour has pointed to how private schools have chosen to significantly increase their fees without a corresponding drop in the number of pupils. A survey conducted by the Independent Schools Council in January found the average fee for a day school has jumped 8% to over £18,000 a year. The average cost of a place at boarding school now stands at over £42,000 a year.

Figures from the Department for Education published last week shows that as of this January, the number of pupils in independent schools in England was 593,486, up from 591,954 the year before and an increase of 24,150 on 2020-21.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies also has debunked Tory claims that Labour’s plan would lead to an exodus of pupils into the state system. It found that removing the tax breaks would have a limited effect on the numbers choosing private education.