Wealthier parents should pay up to £20,000 to send their children to the top state schools, according to a leading headmaster.
In a report commissioned for cross-party think tank the Social Market Foundation, Dr Anthony Seldon, headmaster of the private Wellington College, argues for a number of reforms designed to increase social mobility and end the middle-class domination of the best schools.
Under the proposed reforms, parents with a combined income of £80,000 could be made to contribute to their children's state education.
He argues that the wealthiest parents, whose combined income totals over £200,000, should be required to pay the full cost of education provision. This could amount to £20,000 per year for the most oversubscribed secondary schools and £15,000 for primary schools.
Around a quarter of the funds would be retained by the school and the rest redistributed throughout the state sector.
In addition, leading independent schools should reserve some of their places for children from poorer backgrounds.
The report, entitled Schools United: Ending the Divide Between Independent and State, also calls for state schools to adopt a number of successful practices of their private-sector counterparts.
It highlights several disparities between private and public sector education. The proportion of those in private school teaching jobs with a higher degree, for example, is significantly larger than that in state schools.
Many of the top political, economic, social and sporting positions are held by people from independent schools as a consequence of the education they receive.
State schools should introduce features such as longer school days, uniforms, greater parental involvement and even boarding arrangements to help raise their levels of success.
Partnerships between state schools and their independent counterparts are also advocated. Structural ties such as the government's 'teaching school initiative', launched in 2012, offer good potential for collaboration.
"We have to end this unfair farce whereby middle-class parents dominate the best schools, when they could afford to pay, and even boast of their moral superiority in using the state system when all they are doing is squeezing out the poor from the best schools," Dr Seldon told the Sunday Times.
Posted by Tim Colman