Parents who send their children to private schools are made to feel like lepers, according to a leading headmaster.
Tim Hands, the head of Oxford's Magdalen College school, said mums and dads were being made to feel guilty about privately educating their kids because the move is regarded as 'social leprosy'.
Mr Hands, who takes over as chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC), said it was 'illogical' that that buying a house, car or holiday was seen as acceptable but paying to educate a child privately is not.
In a speech at the HMC's annual conference in West London he said: "Why should those members of the public who so value education find that those responsible for publicly funded education do not value them?"
He added: "We are asked to believe that our schools induce a new kind of social leprosy, with one politician recently arguing that attendance at an independent school was 'seriously disabling'.
"The story of the last 50 years is, I suggest... the intrusion of government and the disappearance of the child."
He used the example of The London Oratory School in Fulham, a state Catholic secondary school where Tony Blair's sons were schooled and Nick Clegg's eldest son Alberto has just started.
Mr Hands said that nearby houses were reportedly on sale for millions of pounds, while only a small percentage of its pupils were eligible for free lunches.
Conversely, Christ's Hospital, a fee-paying school in Horsham, West Sussex, saw the majority of pupils receive bursaries and few pay the full fees.
What do you think? Does he have a point?
More on Parentdish and the private v state debate :