The head of the Bristol private school, Clifton College, has changed places with a comprehensive counterpart as part of a BBC report into education.
The heads spent a day at each others' schools
Clifton head Mark Moore and Henbury School's Clare Bradford, spent two days shadowing each other.
About 99% of the college's pupils passed with five good GCSEs last year, against just under a third at Henbury.
Afterwards, Mr Moore said he would be happy to swap shoes, but Henbury's head said she would rather stay put.
"I'm a product of the state system myself, said Mr Moore. "Whether I'd survive is another issue."
He was shown Henbury's new scheme of giving older pupils computers, and teachers using laptop computers for roll call, while Ms Bradford attended daily chapel and met the marshal in charge of discipline.
Henbury has recently been rebuilt
Truancy at Clifton is not an issue, with attendance at about 90% at Henbury.
"We have an automatic system to call parents [of truants]. It keeps calling until we get a response - even into the evening," said Ms Bradford.
Describing Clifton as a "traditional school", Ms Bradford said Henbury "...changed with the times".
'Fit for purpose'
It re-opened in 2005 after a £17m revamp under the Private Finance Initiative.
Mr Moore said: "The building is the difference - it's built fit for purpose.
"We're in Victorian buildings, some of which were not designed for school."
The pair agreed to shadow each other as part of a week of BBC programmes investigating standards in Bristol's state secondary schools.
Despite an increasing number of pupils getting five good GCSEs, the local authority finished bottom of the league table again.