A “Margaret Thatcher mining crisis” will take hold across the country if Labour pushes ahead with plans to abolish private schools, the headmaster of £36,000-a-year Rugby School has said.

Peter Green, head of one of the oldest private schools in the country, warned the proposals would “decimate” communities as thousands of staff in the independent sector would lose their jobs.

His parallel with the divisive political events of the 1980s – which prompted widespread strikes and led to mass unemployment – has been described as offensive and “grotesque”. 

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Mr Green was speaking after delegates at the Labour party conference voted in favour of integrating all private schools into the state sector if they win the next election.

Headteachers in the independent school sector are now reaching out to MPs, parents in local communities, state school teachers and union leaders to rally support for fee-paying schools. 

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UK news in pictures

1/50 6 October 2019

A car drives through a flooded street in Whitley Bay in Northumberland
Thousands took to the streets of Edinburgh today to march in support of a second Scottish independence referendum

3/50 4 October 2019

A 12ft sculpture of a gorilla, entitled ‘Gorilla Apocalypse’, created by Luke Kite entirely from scrap car bumpers and panels discarded in the last decade is on display at the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire
Police stands in front of the Treasury building during an Extinction Rebellion protest in London

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Ex-Thomas Cook employees demonstrate in London after delivering a petition calling for a full inquiry into Thomas Cook’s collapse and for the company’s directors to pay back their bonuses
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Two tourists pose for pictures in front of Union and EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London

8/50 29 September 2019

A sheep on London Bridge as Freemen of the City of London took up their historic entitlement to drive sheep over the bridge, which was once London’s only river crossing

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An Aldabra giant tortoise is fed watermelon as a treat at the Malvern Autumn Show, at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern in Worcestershire

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A person dressed as a caricature of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a prison uniform stands outside the Supreme Court after it ruled that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal

14/50 23 September 2019

Thomas Cook aircraft are parked up at Manchester Airport on the day they collapsed after rescue talks failed. A total of 22,000 jobs – including 9,000 in UK – are to be lost following administration. More than 150,000 British holidaymakers need to be brought home, with the government and CAA hiring dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge

15/50 22 September 2019

Fire performer Penella Bee performs before people take part in the North East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay in Nothumberland, an annual event that marks the Autumn Equinox and raises money for MIND – the Mental Health Charity

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20/50 17 September 2019

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21/50 16 September 2019

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22/50 15 September 2019

Team Europe celebrate winning the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Auchterarder, Scotland. Europe won the last three singles matches to claim victory 14½-13½
Activists from PETA stage a demonstration outside a venue during London Fashion Week in London, Britain
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26/50 11 September 2019

Storm clouds gather over the pier just off the North East coast at South Shields
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A penny farthing cyclist rides past St. John’s, Smith Square, Westminster, London
Australia celebrate the wicket of England’s Craig Overton, which meant they won the fourth test and retained the Ashes

30/50 7 September 2019

Manchester City celebrate after Caroline Weir scored during their Women’s Super League match against Manchester United at Etihad Stadium. The WSL attendance record was smashed with 31,213 people watching the first Manchester derby of Women’s Super League era – nearly six times the previous WSL record

31/50 6 September 2019

A bull bumps into a plain clothes police officer (left) while being walked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen. It coincided with the publication of Lord Bew’s review and an announcement of extra funding for Scottish farmers

32/50 5 September 2019

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cuts the hair of David Torrance MSP raising £1000 for the charity Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

33/50 4 September 2019

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34/50 3 September 2019

Anti Brexit demonstrators attend a protest at Parliament Square. Lawmakers returned from their summer recess Tuesday for a pivotal day in British politics as they challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s insistence that the UK leave the European Union on 31 October, even without a withdrawal agreement to cushion the economic blow

35/50 2 September 2019

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36/50 1 September 2019

Members of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club take part during the annual cricket match between the clubs, which takes place on the Bramble Bank sandbank in the middle of the Solent at low tide

38/50 30 August 2019

One of the iconic ‘Girl with Balloon’ artworks by anonymous street artist Banksy is carried near one of the original locations the artwork appeared at on the Southbank in London
The sun rises over the sculpture “The Couple” by artist Sean Henry, at Newbiggin-by-the-sea in Northumberland

40/50 28 August 2019

A person wearing a Boris Johnson ‘head’ digs a grave at the foot of a tombstone during a protest organised by Avaaz and Best for Britain, outside Downing Street in London
Nat Lofthouse statue is covered in flags at the University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton

42/50 26 August 2019

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43/50 25 August 2019

A competitor swims in the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Llanwryd Wells, Powys
People flock to Bournemouth beach as a heatwave spells potentially record high temperatures for the bank holiday weekend

45/50 23 August 2019

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46/50 22 August 2019

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow DEFRA Secretary Sue Hayman during a visit to Rakefoot Farm, Castlerigg, Keswick where they are highlighting the danger of a No Deal Brexit to sheep farmers
Festival goers walk along the towpath of the River Thames as they arrive for the Reading Festival at Richfield Avenue

48/50 20 August 2019

Police officers gather to pay their respects at the scene near Ufton Lane, where Thames Valley Police officer PC Andrew Harper, 28, died on Thursday. Jed Foster, 20, has appeared at Reading Magristrates’ Court where denied any involvement with the murder

49/50 19 August 2019

A fire that broke out at the site of Village Bakery on Coed Aben Road, Wrexham Industrial Estate in Wales

50/50 18 August 2019

England fielders crowd Pat Cummins as he see’s out the final over during day five of the second Ashes Test match against Australia at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The test ended in a draw
A car drives through a flooded street in Whitley Bay in Northumberland
Thousands took to the streets of Edinburgh today to march in support of a second Scottish independence referendum

3/50 4 October 2019

A 12ft sculpture of a gorilla, entitled ‘Gorilla Apocalypse’, created by Luke Kite entirely from scrap car bumpers and panels discarded in the last decade is on display at the British Ironwork Centre in Oswestry, Shropshire
Police stands in front of the Treasury building during an Extinction Rebellion protest in London

5/50 2 October 2019

Ex-Thomas Cook employees demonstrate in London after delivering a petition calling for a full inquiry into Thomas Cook’s collapse and for the company’s directors to pay back their bonuses
A road in Alum Rock, Birmingham is flooded after persistent heavy rain
Two tourists pose for pictures in front of Union and EU flags outside the Houses of Parliament in London

8/50 29 September 2019

A sheep on London Bridge as Freemen of the City of London took up their historic entitlement to drive sheep over the bridge, which was once London’s only river crossing

9/50 28 September 2019

An Aldabra giant tortoise is fed watermelon as a treat at the Malvern Autumn Show, at the Three Counties Showground near Malvern in Worcestershire

10/50 27 September 2019

Gallery assistants pose with an artwork entitled ‘Devolved Parliament’ by British artist Banksy, during a press view in London ahead of Sotheby’s contemporary art sale, as part of the Frieze Art Fair

11/50 26 September 2019

England’s Jonathan Joseph is tackled by United State’s Marcel Brache during their group match at the Rugby World Cup in Japan. England scored seven tries on their way to winning 45-7

12/50 25 September 2019

Tributes for former Rangers player Fernando Ricksen at Ibrox Stadium. Today, the funeral procession will pass Ibrox Stadium before making the journey to Wellington Church

13/50 24 September 2019

A person dressed as a caricature of Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a prison uniform stands outside the Supreme Court after it ruled that his decision to suspend Parliament was illegal

14/50 23 September 2019

Thomas Cook aircraft are parked up at Manchester Airport on the day they collapsed after rescue talks failed. A total of 22,000 jobs – including 9,000 in UK – are to be lost following administration. More than 150,000 British holidaymakers need to be brought home, with the government and CAA hiring dozens of charter planes to fly customers home free of charge

15/50 22 September 2019

Fire performer Penella Bee performs before people take part in the North East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay in Nothumberland, an annual event that marks the Autumn Equinox and raises money for MIND – the Mental Health Charity

16/50 21 September 2019

Protesters gather for a march and rally organised by “The People’s Vote” in Brighton, to call for politicians to give the public a final say referendum on Brexit

17/50 20 September 2019

Protesters in London joined millions across world to demand urgent action to save planet in the largest environmental protest in history

18/50 19 September 2019

Rapper Dave poses with the Mercury Prize: Albums of the Year Award at Apollo
A surfer in action during sunrise at Tynemouth on the north east coast

20/50 17 September 2019

Protesters dressed as the Incredible Hulk and Robocop outside the Supreme Court in London where judges are due to consider legal challenges to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament. The Supreme Court will hear appeals over three days from two separate challenges to the prorogation of Parliament brought in England and Scotland

21/50 16 September 2019

Farmer Tom Hoggard harvests pumpkins at Howe Bridge Farm in Yorkshire, ahead of Halloween

22/50 15 September 2019

Team Europe celebrate winning the Solheim Cup at Gleneagles in Auchterarder, Scotland. Europe won the last three singles matches to claim victory 14½-13½
Activists from PETA stage a demonstration outside a venue during London Fashion Week in London, Britain
Australia’s Marnus Labuschagne attempts to stop a boundary in the fifth Test

26/50 11 September 2019

Storm clouds gather over the pier just off the North East coast at South Shields
The peloton rides past the Angel of the North during stage four of the Tour of Britain from Gateshead to Kendal
A penny farthing cyclist rides past St. John’s, Smith Square, Westminster, London
Australia celebrate the wicket of England’s Craig Overton, which meant they won the fourth test and retained the Ashes

30/50 7 September 2019

Manchester City celebrate after Caroline Weir scored during their Women’s Super League match against Manchester United at Etihad Stadium. The WSL attendance record was smashed with 31,213 people watching the first Manchester derby of Women’s Super League era – nearly six times the previous WSL record

31/50 6 September 2019

A bull bumps into a plain clothes police officer (left) while being walked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson during his visit to Darnford Farm in Banchory near Aberdeen. It coincided with the publication of Lord Bew’s review and an announcement of extra funding for Scottish farmers

32/50 5 September 2019

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon cuts the hair of David Torrance MSP raising £1000 for the charity Maggie’s Centre in Kirkcaldy at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh

33/50 4 September 2019

Australia’s David Warner looks dejected after being dismissed by England’s Stuart Broad during day one of the fourth Ashes Test at Old Trafford in Manchester

34/50 3 September 2019

Anti Brexit demonstrators attend a protest at Parliament Square. Lawmakers returned from their summer recess Tuesday for a pivotal day in British politics as they challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s insistence that the UK leave the European Union on 31 October, even without a withdrawal agreement to cushion the economic blow

35/50 2 September 2019

Set building begins on Waterloo Place in Edinburgh ahead of filming for Fast and Furious 9

36/50 1 September 2019

Members of the Royal Southern Yacht Club and the Island Sailing Club take part during the annual cricket match between the clubs, which takes place on the Bramble Bank sandbank in the middle of the Solent at low tide

38/50 30 August 2019

One of the iconic ‘Girl with Balloon’ artworks by anonymous street artist Banksy is carried near one of the original locations the artwork appeared at on the Southbank in London
The sun rises over the sculpture “The Couple” by artist Sean Henry, at Newbiggin-by-the-sea in Northumberland

40/50 28 August 2019

A person wearing a Boris Johnson ‘head’ digs a grave at the foot of a tombstone during a protest organised by Avaaz and Best for Britain, outside Downing Street in London
Nat Lofthouse statue is covered in flags at the University of Bolton Stadium, Bolton

42/50 26 August 2019

Performers take part in Notting Hill Carnival. Nearly one million people were expected to attend Sunday and Monday’s carnival to celebrate Caribbean culture

43/50 25 August 2019

A competitor swims in the World Bog Snorkelling Championships in Llanwryd Wells, Powys
People flock to Bournemouth beach as a heatwave spells potentially record high temperatures for the bank holiday weekend

45/50 23 August 2019

Fans of Bury FC deliver a symbolic coffin to the club’s home at Gigg Lane as the continuation of their membership to the football league lies in doubt. The club will lose their membership at midnight if they don’t find a buyer or prove that they have the means to pay off their debts

46/50 22 August 2019

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow DEFRA Secretary Sue Hayman during a visit to Rakefoot Farm, Castlerigg, Keswick where they are highlighting the danger of a No Deal Brexit to sheep farmers
Festival goers walk along the towpath of the River Thames as they arrive for the Reading Festival at Richfield Avenue

48/50 20 August 2019

Police officers gather to pay their respects at the scene near Ufton Lane, where Thames Valley Police officer PC Andrew Harper, 28, died on Thursday. Jed Foster, 20, has appeared at Reading Magristrates’ Court where denied any involvement with the murder

49/50 19 August 2019

A fire that broke out at the site of Village Bakery on Coed Aben Road, Wrexham Industrial Estate in Wales

50/50 18 August 2019

England fielders crowd Pat Cummins as he see’s out the final over during day five of the second Ashes Test match against Australia at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The test ended in a draw

In an interview with The Independent, Mr Green warned that hundreds of support staff at Rugby School would become unemployed if the school was forced to shut down.

He said: “We would have a Margaret Thatcher mining crisis in so many areas of the UK if they decided to get rid of us. It would decimate communities and you would have the reverse multiplier.”

Shutting the elite boarding school, which was founded in 1567, would “ruin” Rugby town, he added. 

Rugby town will lose its biggest employer which provides more than £30m directly to the town every year. We employ over 600 support staff – that is not including the teachers,” Mr Green said. 

He added: “What about the restaurants which survive because of us with our parents coming, our hotels which are in the local area, what about our local building firms that we have used for new buildings?”

The head of the prestigious school said an “attack on excellence” was not the solution. Instead, he advocated independent schools continuing their partnership work with state schools.  

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Under the reforms being proposed by Jeremy Corbyn’s party, properties and funds held by private schools would be “redistributed democratically and fairly” across the country’s educational institutions.

Speaking at a conference in London this week, headteachers warned that it was unlikely that staff working in private schools would all move over to the state sector if the plans go ahead. 

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), which represents more than 1,300 private schools in the UK, is calling on pupils, parents and alumni to oppose the plans.

He said: “Many independent schools are in small towns, even villages, and jobs will be lost, unemployment will rise and the local community will be greatly diminished. 

“In these places, a great deal of community life focuses on the school and the school’s building and the events that are put on in those schools and all that will be gone.”

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Andrew Harrop, general secretary of the Fabian Society, added: “This looks like scaremongering. The Labour party is talking about gradually shrinking the private school sector and integrating schools into the state system in a managed way. Successful independent schools won’t be forced to close overnight. 

He added: “It is wildly over the top to compare the gradual integration of the independent and state school sectors with the forced closure of the UK mining industry. Drawing this parallel is likely to cause great offence in many in ex-colliery communities.”

Holly Rigby, a state school teacher and co-founder of the Labour Against Private Schools campaign group, noted that Rugby School’s alumni includes Conservative politicians “who crushed the miners’ struggle”. 

She said: “To suggest that Rugby’s attempts to horde its privilege and power is similar to the miners’ strike is grotesque. 

“Rugby educates the elite political class in this country and there is no surprise they are trying to fight to defend their privilege, whilst talented young people in state schools like mine are left behind.”