Private schools could face losing their tax breaks unless they do more to help state schools under plans put forward by shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt.
Writing in the Guardian, Mr Hunt revealed the institutions would be unable to access business rate relief worth £700 million over the next parliament unless they provide more assistance to their state sector counterparts.
The shadow education secretary said that, while private schools were originally created out of philanthropy and Christian duty, they have now become barriers to the success of British education.
He cited a statistic that privately-educated pupils take up 50 per cent of the places at Oxford, despite the fact that they make up only seven per cent of youngsters.
"I believe we deserve an education system where the majority of young people enjoy the same access to excellence as the privileged seven per cent," Mr Hunt said.
"With ever growing concentrations of prosperity and power, we need a system that challenges all institutions to work together to spread social mobility."
The shadow education secretary encouraged both sets of schools to learn from each other, with state schools potentially benefiting from emulating the private sector's approach to education and other aspects such as extracurricular activities.
Private schools can learn from state institutions' "whole-class teaching, modern British values, student engagement and, indeed, value for money".
Labour plans to create a School Partnership Standard that will ensure private schools form "genuine and accountable" relationships with their state sector counterparts. Each institution will be required to create an action plan based on the skills, traditions and educational needs of their locality.
The party also wants more private institutions to set up summer schools, assist state boarding schools, sponsor academies and help with professional exchange.
Mr Hunt said successful partnerships are already taking place, giving the example of the United Learning Trust, which contains 38 academies and 13 independent schools.
He warned that minor gestures by private schools would be unacceptable and they will only be exempt from business rates if they have a real impact on state education.
Posted by Tim Colman