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Talking point

Kate Connelly, 17, Year 12, Hills Road sixth-form college, Cambridge.

"I'd be dead before I went to a private school. The idea that only people who can pass a test or who have a certain amount of money go to a school belongs to a feudal society, not a modern one. It creates disturbing ideas about status and what people are valued on."

Edward Johnson, 15, Year 11, Lutterworth grammar and community college, Leicestershire.

"If you get the wrong mix of people at an inner-city school, disruptive behaviour does make education very hard. If people are from a more upper-class background, they might work harder. And some pupils may need more incentive to do well. But if you get your head down at this school you can do just as well. Parents pay taxes anyway, so why pay extra?"

Anna Popplewell (above), 14 , Year 9, North London Collegiate School, Edgware.

"At my private school you are allowed a lot of independence. We've got smaller classes and because of the extra funding, we have fantastic facilities and more extensive grounds. People stereotype private schools.

But it's not always an accurate generalisation - we have a wide racial and social mix."

Hannah Kuchler, 16, Year 11, Camden school for girls, north London.

"There are real advantages to a state school. You are not as isolated.

State schools are more racially mixed, which increases your tolerance and understanding of other people. At state school you have to educate yourself to an extent. Lack of resources means you have to do more independent thinking."

Sara Cronin, 14, Year 9, Sacred Heart high, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

"Teachers at my school talk to you if you need help. But at private school I would be a bit wary, because they might not think I was clever enough if I had to ask them for help. Also the rules are dead strict. My mum went to private school, and she had to have her skirt measured. If you did any little thing wrong, you got told off."

Freddie Tatham, 18, Year 13, Downside School, Somerset.

"I can't see why anyone wouldn't go to a private school if they were given the opportunity. Generally the education is better. It must be - after all, you are paying extra. We have people with aristocratic and military backgrounds, rich people from abroad and people from south London. Class isn't held against anyone. It certainly isn't a reason for bullying."

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