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Top head: private schools should not support failing ones

Private schools should not be expected to "prop up" those failing in the state sector, a leading independent school headteacher warned yesterday.

Dr Helen Wright, president of the Girls' School Association (GSA) and head of top performing St Mary's Calne in Wiltshire, urged ministers to "be careful" about expecting private schools "to bolster academies or to prop up other failing schools".

"Why should our parents – most of whom struggle hard to pay the fees to educate their children – prop up the state system and so effectively pay twice?" she said in her address to the GSA's annual conference in Bristol.

Her comments follow calls by ministers for all private schools to consider sponsoring one of the Government's academies.

"This might curry favour in some quarters," she said, "but who will really benefit if we are forced to provide the teachers and the expertise that should have been provided by successive governments?"