HUDDERSFIELD MP Barry Sheerman locked horns in an acrimonious Westminster exchange over private education.
The MP clashed with the new chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, Chris Parry.
Mr Parry said inadequate state education was “offensive” to parents who pay their taxes.
In extraordinary remarks to MPs, he attacked the “Cold War” mentality of some figures in education for perpetuating the “severe sectarian divide” between state and private schools.
Mr Parry, who took up his post one week ago, clashed with the chairman of the schools select committee, Labour MP Mr Sheerman.
Mr Sheerman attacked Mr Parry’s “offensive” description of private education as “paid for” schooling – because parents of state school pupils “pay for” tuition through their taxes.
But Mr Parry replied: “I find it very offensive that I can’t find provision in the maintained sector for my child.
“I pay my taxes,” he said.
“Where I come from the maintained sector is very poor and my wife and I have made sacrifices to send both our children to the independent sector.
“There are hundreds and thousands of families like mine who have chosen to make that commitment both to their child’s future and to the future of this country – and at significant expense, I might add.”
Mr Parry went on to accuse college and university tutors of “bullying” trainee teachers to stop them applying for jobs in independent schools for ideological reasons.
“There is a sectarian divide between the maintained and independent sector,” he said.
“There is a lot of prejudice and bullying from the maintained sector, particularly in the teacher training colleges.
“During the Cold War you had misperceptions about what is going on the other side,” he said.
“We need to talk more and find out what we have in common, which, after all, is children, and then go on to build bridges.”
The Independent Schools Council represents 1,280 independent schools, educating more than 500,000 children in the UK.