"I regret its passing, but I don't think we can simply say we will revive it," he says in the latest issue of The ISIS Magazine, published by the Independent Schools Information Service. "My great regret is that we didn't make it so popular that it would have been impossible for Labour to abolish it. We have to reflect and learn from that."
Mr Willetts says the Conservatives' aim now is "a form of co-operation between the sectors which is irreversible".
He admits that the Assisted Places Scheme's link with academic selection was one of the things that left it vulnerable, and says he is open-minded about whether any successor scheme should embrace a wider range of ability.