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Hunt's former headmaster calls school plans 'offensive'

Tristram Hunt told private schools to help state institutions or risk losing tax breaks. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The headmaster of the shadow education secretary's former school has said Labour's plans to strip private schools of tax breaks worth hundreds of millions of pounds unless they do more to help the state sector could be deemed "offensive bigotry".

In a speech yesterday, Tristram Hunt told private schools to start doing more to help state pupils or risk losing £700 million-worth of tax breaks.

But Mark Beard, head of the independent University College School (UCS) in Hampstead, north-west London, said the shadow cabinet minister should be considering "new, helpful initiatives" to raise standards in state schools..

"Rather than rely on independent schools to solve the issues for the 93% of children who are educated in the state sector, isn't it time for Labour to come up with some new, helpful initiatives rather than espousing what some might deem an offensive bigotry?"

– Mark Beard, University College School

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Labour: Structured learning 'doesn't seem like bad idea'

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has told ITV News more "structured" play and learning in nursery schools "doesn't seem like a bad idea".

"I think we have to address this issue of disadvantaged children who aren't school ready by the time they turn up in reception year," Mr Hunt said.

Labour: Raising quality of teaching must be priority

Schools standards will only improve once the quality of teaching in classrooms is raised, shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said.

Michael Gove earlier put forward proposals to shake-up the education system which he hopes will end the "Berlin Wall" divide between state and private school sectors.

Raising the quality of teaching in the classroom must be the priority, according to Labour. Credit: PA Wire

"Improving school standards starts with a qualified teacher in every classroom. Until Michael Gove commits to this, he is ruling himself out of any serious debate about how we raise standards in our schools," Mr Hunt, said.

"Whether on discipline, delivering extra-curricular activities or on improving learning outcomes, it all hinges on the quality of the teacher in the classroom.

"Raising the quality of teaching - that is where the focus needs to be and that is what Labour is concerned with. The Tories have lost sight of this and are undermining school standards as a result."

Labour: Free schools suffer from 'lack of oversight'

Labour’s shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said that the Free School policy is "damaging standards" and that there was a "lack of oversight".

In his terrible rush to roll out the Free School programme, David Cameron has abandoned high standards and basic safeguards - and the pupils at the Discovery Free School have paid the price.

David Cameron is damaging standards by allowing Free Schools to operate under a complete lack of local oversight, transparency and accountability and by allowing them to hire unqualified teachers.

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Hunt would consider sending children to private schools

The shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has refused to rule out sending his children to private school in the future.

Mr Hunt, who was promoted to the role during Ed Miliband's last reshuffle, insisted he had "absolute faith" in the state sector, but said you "can never say never" about what might happen in the future.

Shadow Secretary of State for Education Tristram Hunt Credit: PA Wire

Speaking on The Agenda, the MP said:"I'm first and foremost a parent and a father, and I'm not saying that there are no circumstances ever in the future in which that decision might not have to be taken.

"But my kids are in the state sector, they're going to continue there, but I think it's important for politicians to be honest, and were something to occur in the future which necessitated that situation, I don't want people to say 'well he said he'd never do it'.

"I think you have to be open and frank about those potentialities as a parent."

The Agenda with Tom Bradby will be broadcast on ITV tonight at 10.35pm

Labour 'deeply concerned' by Free School failing

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt described the case at King's Science Academy as the latest "deeply concerning" episode in a "string of failings" in the Government's Free School programme.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt described the King's Science Academy case 'deeply concerning' Credit: PA

"Labour has long warned of the dangers that a lack of financial oversight and allowing unqualified teachers to teach in our classrooms on a permanent basis would cause," he said.

"The case of KSA Free School further exposes David Cameron's weakness on school standards. It proves yet again that it is not possible for thousands of schools to be run directly from Whitehall and is further proof that this out-of-touch Government has no plan to deliver for all children."