'Don't Force Private Schools to Share Our DNA with State Rivals'

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Byline: Anna Davis Education Correspondent

PRIVATE schools should not be forced to share their facilities with their state school "competition", the head of an independent school group said today.

Louise Robinson, president of the Girls' Schools Association, warned that the private sector was under pressure from rising costs and parents who cannot afford fees, and should not be asked to pool its "DNA" with local schools.

She said private schools were prepared to help the state sector, but on their own terms.

David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove have both urged private schools to sponsor state academies, with Mr Cameron warning of "apartheid" between the sectors.

Some private schools, including Wellington College in Berkshire, already sponsor academies. Eton is helping run a new free school in Newham for sixthformers.

But, speaking at the Girls' Schools Association conference in Liverpool, Mrs Robinson said: "Michael Gove has been very clear about the rules of co-operating with us, asking us to share our resources or facilities.

"Many of us happily do this already with a wide variety of schools on our own terms. But when we are squeezed between the tightening rules and regulations, the rising cost of our provision, and the ability of middle-class parents to pay our increasing fees, it seems a bit beyond the pale to ask if we will share aspects of our unique selling point with local competition."

Mrs Robinson, head of Merchant Taylors' Girls' School in Crosby, questioned why she should offer "expertise and experience to parents who could have sent their children to my school, but chose not to, or to a Government who criticises my morality? …