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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 October 2006, 11:29 GMT 12:29 UK
State links annoy private schools
Fettes College, Edinburgh
Facilities should be shared with the state sector, the government says
The government is being urged to commit "serious" funds to giving state school pupils access to private education.

Andrew Boggis of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference of leading independent schools said their top teachers must get "the market rate".

This follows praise for private schools from Education Secretary Alan Johnson and calls for more independent school staff to teach in the state sector.

The government said partnerships between the sectors had been a success.

'On the cheap'

Mr Boggis, who chairs the HMC, is head teacher of Forest School in Snaresbrook, east London. Its former pupils include cricketer Nasser Hussain and film director Peter Greenaway.

He told the HMC's annual conference in Manchester that many believed that ministers were trying to "hijack" the brand of independent schools "on the cheap".

He called for a formal service contract which recognised the contribution independent schools made to the national economy.

"The government's view of partnership is not what partnership really ought to mean," he said.

"It represents a superficial and one-way interest in bridge-building between the two sectors."

Formal partnerships

If the government was serious about independent schools helping boost the supply of teachers for languages, maths and science then it must enter into a properly funded agreement, he said.

Mr Boggis said the money spent on formal partnerships between the private and state sectors was too limited.

"In 2004 funding was 1.4m, only slightly more than the furniture allowance for the national Learning and Skills Council," he said.

Ministers have praised the quality of education on offer at independent schools - Schools Minister Lord Adonis has also said that boarding school could be an option for children in care.

Chancellor Gordon Brown has also set out to fund state school pupils at the same level as those in private schools.

Excellent facilities

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) announced earlier this year that 3.4m had been made available to support long-term partnerships between state and independent schools.

About 50,000 pupils were expected to receive maths, science and language lessons from private school teachers.

A DfES spokesman said the partnership scheme had been a success - but the government wanted more.

"As Alan Johnson stated recently some private schools own excellent facilities, from science labs to playing fields, often under-used.

"We want these schools to open their gates to all children in the community - surely this is what their charitable status is for."

In recent years there have been repeated suggestions that private schools might lose their charity status if they do not do more for their local communities.

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