Socialist Worker

Minister Ruth Kelly snubs state schools the voters use

Issue No. 2033

Tower Hamlets in east London, the borough where Ruth Kelly lives, has 20 primary schools – six of them specialising in helping children with dyslexia.

So why has the former education secretary chosen to send her son to a £15,000 a year private prep school that prides itself on getting pupils into the likes of Eton and Harrow?

Kelly joins a long list of Labour ministers – headed by Tony Blair – who have not sent their children to the schools the rest of us use.

The Labour government’s policy is that children with learning difficulties should be in mainstream state schools as long as the necessary specialist teaching skills are in place.

Molly Doyle is a special needs teacher in Tower Hamlets. She told Socialist Worker, “The vast majority of children – unless they have severe needs – attend mainstream schools.

“And there is no doubt that there are issues about inclusion.

“There are issues about the curriculum and support – but these are issues facing all children.

“If schools can’t meet the needs of Ruth Kelly’s child, then they’re not meeting the needs of any child. For an MP to abdicate their responsibility in this way is disgusting.”


It is estimated that up to 10 percent of the population have dyslexia.

That is a lot of children whose parents cannot afford to send their children to private school, and instead have to rely on the state system.

Respect supporter Laura Penketh is vice-chair of the Preston District Dyslexia Society. She told Socialist Worker about how difficult it is for parents to get the support that their children need.

Laura said, “There is a real lack of resources available. And it can be a lottery how much teachers know about dyslexia.

“My daughter has dyslexia – but even when you know what funding and resources are available it is very difficult to get the things you are entitled to.

“Ruth Kelly’s decision is atrocious. The government says that it is all about opportunity in education – opportunity for who?”

For more schools campaigns, go to Anti academies protests

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Sat 13 Jan 2007, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 2033
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