Headteachers claim pupils are being discriminated against as private schools have to pay tens of thousands of pounds to a private company for the use of the Scottish Government website Glow.
Glow is a schools-only online forum that offers Curriculum for Excellence resources, portals for teachers to share lesson plans and individual school pages so pupils can access information and materials from their own teachers.
Run by Scottish Government body Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS), the site also allows pupils to set up their own blogs and have their own safe email accounts as it is accessible only by the education community.
However, despite state schools being able to access the site for free, private institutions are having to pay a flat fee of about 5,000 plus an ongoing annual fee, which can amount to thousands of pounds more.
Rod Grant, headteacher of Clifton Hall School near Edinburgh, believes most independent schools will be put off by the cost, and branded it a disgrace that pupils in fee-paying schools were unable to access a national resource. "Unfortunately, it will be children that suffer as these resources and ideas and online communities are not an option for us unless we pay heavily for them."
John McCartney, head of education services at RM, the firm which runs Glow for LTS, agreed the site was important for schools trying to implement the curriculum, and said: "We believe, and so do LTS, that Glow is there to support the roll-out of Curriculum for Excellence."
A spokeswoman for LTS said: "The Glow service is freely available to all local authorities. In addition, all independent schools are eligible to purchase Glow services."