David Cameron snubs 15 local schools to send his daughter to exclusive Church of England primary


Last updated at 08:48 25 January 2008

David Cameron has angered parents by rejecting at least 15 local primaries to try to get his daughter into

an exclusive state school.

The Tory leader and his wife Samantha want four-year-old Nancy to attend an exclusive Church of England primary

more than two miles from their home.

They have passed over at least 15 other nearby primaries, including alternative CofE schools, to do so.

Local families have accused Eton-educated Mr Cameron of "snobbery" in choosing the highly sought-after St Mary Abbots instead of schools such as a 453-pupil primary yards from his front door in Notting Hill.

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He is one in a long line of politicians – including former premier Tony Blair – who have faced awkward questions over their children's schooling.

The Camerons' chosen school is in one of London's property hotspots, off Kensington High Street.

It has 210 pupils, mainly from families of professionals, such as high-flying media figures and architects and an enviable record of being a feeder for fee-paying schools.

Every year a number of pupils move onto private day and boarding schools including the Godolphin and Latymer School for Girls.

Pupils also head for non-denominational schools, notably nearby Holland Park, which is one of the most famous comprehensives in the country.

In contrast, the family's nearest school is Oxford Gardens. Its pupils come from diverse ethnic backgrounds including white, black African, Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi and about half qualify for free school meals.

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Mr Cameron also snubbed St Thomas's CofE, where nearly three-quarters of pupils are from ethnic minorities, and St Stephen's CofE, where around 43 per cent do not speak English as a first language.

Karen Spencer, 32, whose daughter attends St Thomas's, said: "It's just pure snobbery to think this school isn't good enough."

Michelle Marlowe, 30, whose two children are also at the school, added: "We'd all love to get our kids into St Mary Abbot's but this is a fantastic school. Why does he think he's so much better than his neighbours?"

Mr Cameron will discover shortly whether Nancy has gained a place at St Mary Abbots, which accepts around 30 pupils a year. She would start in September.

In a radio interview last year, Mr Cameron said he was "very keen" on St Mary Abbots for Nancy, the second

of his three children. He said he feared that she might get "a bit lost" in a large primary school.

The Camerons began worshipping at the church next to St Mary Abbots around three years ago.

One churchgoer, who did not want to be named, said: "We get lots of young families. Many realise worshipping here helps get a place in the school."

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In 2003, Labour MP Diane Abbott caused a row after shunning local comprehensives and sending her son to a private school.

She admitted her decision was "indefensible" as she had criticised other MPs in the party over their choice of schools.

Mr and Mrs Blair sent their children across the capital to the London Oratory School, a grant-maintained Roman Catholic school in Fulham.

And deputy leader Harriet Harman revealed in 1996 she had sent her elder son, Harry, to the Oratory. She sent her second son, Joe, to a selective grammar in Bromley.

A spokesman for Mr Cameron said yesterday: "David has always made clear that he wants to send Nancy to a state school and he's making the decision for his child.

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Diane Abbott

"They really liked St Mary Abbots. Obviously he's not playing politics with his children. There are lots of good schools in the area but he was particularly keen on this one."

Anthony Mannix, headteacher of another local school, Barlby Primary, said: "If he sent any of his children here I'm sure they would do very well."

There was no one available to comment at St Mary Abbots or Oxford Gardens yesterday.