CONSERVATIVE candidate Bob Seely told the BBC's Sunday Politics programme the Isle of Wight could lose Ryde School and The Island Free School if the Green Party or Labour Party got into power.

On the programme this morning (Sunday), Mr Seely said the parties would scrap Ofsted, the National Curriculum and shut down charitable status for private schools.

He said: "Every parent in Ryde in my constituency needs to know that Ryde School will be shut by Labour or the Greens and they will shut down Ventnor Free School as well.”

Green Party candidate for the Isle of Wight, Vix Lowthion, said Mr Seely should issue a correction as the claims were false.

She said: "The reality is electing a Green MP for the Isle of Wight would not result in the closure of Ryde School or the Free School.

"Green policy is to replace Ofsted with a more collaborative monitoring system and we believe all private schools should have the same tax status as all state schools.

"However, there is currently no Green Party policy to shut down private schools and there never has been.

"It is disappointing to see Mr Seely avoiding the real issues facing our schools.

"The Isle of Wight has seen £11.5 million of budget cuts in the last four years due to his own Conservative government’s education policies.

"More than a third of children on the Island are living in poverty, and class sizes are continuing to rise.

"We need a new Island MP who will understand the realities facing our parents, teachers, governors and young people, and will fight for greater funding and access for education on the Isle of Wight."

Ms Lowthion works as a teacher on the Island.

Richard Quigley, Island Labour's prospective parliamentary candidate, said: "We're getting to the stage where we're going to have to offer cash prizes to people who find a Tory politician getting through an entire interview without telling a lie.

"The Labour Party does not have a policy of closing existing free schools. Our policy is to bring all state-funded schools, including free schools, into a coherent system whereby all schools are accountable to the communities they serve, and work together locally, rather than in competition.

"So to suggest we would simply shut the Island Free School is just another Tory lie. We wouldn't. We would, however, close tax loopholes which currently benefit the private schools which serve the wealthiest seven per cent of the population.

"It might be worth reminding people that the Tories' friends in the private academy chain AET tried to shut Sandown Bay Academy just two years ago.

"The Tory government then shut the Studio School this year. And the Tory council is proposing to shut Yarmouth Primary School next year."

At the Labour Party conference this autumn, party delegates backed a motion to abolish private schools, however this has not been included in the recently-published party manifesto.

Instead, Labour has pledged to change tax laws for independent schools.


Monday 9am: 

Mr Seely said in response to criticism from the Labour Party and Green Party: "Education is one of the most important issues we face on the Isle of Wight.

“It’s critical that everyone on the Island knows the clear choice between what I and the Conservatives are offering, and the policies from the main challenger, the Labour Party (along with one of the minor parties: the Greens).

"Both Labour and the Greens will scrap Ofsted’s independent assessments, scrap tests, scrap league tables and scrap the national curriculum.

"They will also remove charitable status from Ryde School (and increase its tax burden) and fundamentally change the nature of the Island Free School’s operation – by forcing it to operate under local authority control.

"Such radical changes would, I believe, ultimately result in the closure of these schools, because they would no longer be able to sustain their current distinctive offers to parents and pupils.

"I recommend every parent on the Island reads the damaging plans for education by both Labour and the Greens. They do not hide their policies.

"Every parent should know these left-wing plans to force seismic change on the Island Free School. Every parent should be aware of Labour and the Greens’ plans to make Ryde School unaffordable or unviable.

"Every parent on the Island should recognise that these hard-left parties want to scrap the Ofsted assessment of schools, scrap testing SATs, scrap tables and scrap the national curriculum – thereby removing their right to make informed choices about which school to send their children to.

"Both these failed parties will do massive damage to education anywhere they can.

"Our manifesto position is also clear. We will keep Ofsted, the national curriculum, tests and league tables. We want to give parents open and accurate information about schools so they can make informed choices about what is best for their children.

"We will increase educational funding. In his first months in office, Boris Johnson announced an extra £14 billion in funding for schools. That translates to £150 million a week, and will include at least £5,000 a year for each secondary school pupil and at least £4,000 for each primary school pupil.

"This also includes £780 million in new funding to support children with Special Educational Needs next year alone.”


Monday 10am:

Richard Quigley sent us this response:

"It really is quite shocking that Bob was caught delivering a stone-cold lie on live TV, and rather than apologising, he has decided to double down on that lie. 

"It says something about Bob and the Tories that he twice warns "every parent in Ryde" to be afraid of Labour's plans to make private schools pay a fair share of tax. Perhaps it reflects the different circles in which Bob moves, but most parents in Ryde or on the Island don't send their children to private schools. They go to our state-funded schools. Those same state-funded schools which have been systemically underfunded by the Tories for a decade.

"Nearly every school on the Island has seen its real terms funding reduced because of Tory cuts to the state education system. 

"If wanting our children's schools to be properly funded is "hard-left", then I will happily wear that label. If believing all our schools should be accountable to the communities they serve is "radical", then call me a radical. 

"I'll keep fighting for those schools to be properly funded, and for the rights of parents to have a say about those schools. Voters can decide which policy is more damaging."