Private schools should provide boarding places for thousands of looked-after children as a way of resisting pressure to strip them of their charitable status, the government has said.
Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi claimed that Labour "would never be able to abolish" private schools if they helped to improve the life chances of vulnerable children.
Mr Zahawi praised 40 independent schools for taking part in a government-backed scheme that provides places for looked-after children.
The education minister told Newsnight that hundreds of other private schools should also join the Boarding School Partnership if they wanted to survive in a hostile political environment.
Private schools have faced increasing pressure in recent years from across the political spectrum to be stripped of their charitable status which grants them tax breaks. At last year's general election, Labour pledged to abolish VAT-free school fees.
Mr Zahawi told Newsnight: "I think schools that are independent in this country need to think about what more they can do... It is an ideal opportunity to come and help deliver the greatest outcome. It is incumbent on all of us in a country as civilised, as wealthy as our country - we should be providing the best opportunities for these kids not simply managing them.