Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, is right to want independent schools to do more to justify their charitable status. Opening up their science facilities and teaching to the state sector might improve opportunities for state school pupils and should not be rejected on the grounds that it is patronising. But this is not a one-way street. State schools have things to learn from independent schools. Bringing the sectors together would also be good for privately-educated students, introducing them to a wider range of lifestyles and attitudes than they encounter in the relatively sheltered worlds in which they live.