Sir Keir Starmer at the recent Labour Party conference raised again the topic of removing the charitable status from independent schools.
Many who work in the private education sector, or send their children to a fee paying school, will be angered , dismayed and worried that this has once more become a leading news story.
The bad news for these people is that this debate will only intensify. The wealthy elite have emerged better off than ever from the pandemic leaving the rest 'footing the bill' through significantly reduced public services and a higher cost of living.
Independent schools draw their income from fees paid for by this wealthy elite and in doing so they are wide open to the accusation of perpetuating and entrenching privilege through the continuation of a two tier education system.
That is why Sir Keir Starmer is on such solid ground when he raises the subject of removing charitable status, and why he can afford to ignore totally all the positive things UK independent schools bring to our education system. In a world where political soundbite is everything the nuances of any debate become obsolete.
So what can the guardians of independent schools do to defend themselves?
The answer is to continue with the same approach of working with state schools but to promote this in a clearer and significantly more vigorous way, and with far more demonstrative evidence.
Importantly , all independent schools now realise that broadening access is not only a moral duty but also the only way that they can ensure their own long term survival. They are also aware that having only 1% of places which are fully funded will not protect them in any debate over their future, and that they need to move to a sustainable business model where they can afford to fund a figure which is nearer 20%.
Many also realise that qualification for bursary places need to change and that whilst it should continue to be means tested it should be based on factors other than academic ability . Taking the very best academically able children from the state sector, where many would have prospered anyway, does little to demonstrate that bursaries places are truly life changing.
Unless the independent sector can effectively demonstrate their role in 'levelling up' society reform of their schools is inevitable.
The debate will continue.