A leading headmaster has accused Nick Clegg of having "double standards" for considering sending his son to an independent school at the same time as he tries to limit the number of university places available to pupils in private education.
Tim Hands, the incoming chairman of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference of leading public schools, criticised the Deputy Prime Minister for suggesting that the rift between top private schools and comprehensive schools that "ordinary families" send their children to was "corrosive".
Mr Clegg has backed the idea of pupils from poorer backgrounds being given university places even if their grades are slightly lower, to heal the division between the two types of schools.
But he is considering sending his eldest son, 11, to a private school.
Mr Hands, the headmaster of Magdalen College School in Oxford, told The Sunday Telegraph Mr Clegg was guilty of "double standards".
He said: "On the one hand there's personal support for the independent sector by sending one's own child into it. On the other there is a political interference in higher education by trying to limit the number of independent-school pupils going to top universities."
Mr Hands also disputed statistics the Deputy Prime Minister claimed about the number of children going to private schools, and suggested his arguments were based on flawed research.
"This interference is based on inaccurate statistics and questionable research. So it is rather a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing - Nick Clegg's actions and his language smack of double standards.
"If you want to find something corrosive, then you only need to look as far as political interference in the academic integrity of university admissions."