5,000 more pupils at private schools: Economic recovery and students from abroad boost independent school numbers

Daily Mail, 01/05/15, the number of children attending private schools has risen by more than 5,000 in a year because of the economic recovery and an increase in pupils from abroad. HMC member Richard Cairns, headmaster of Brighton College is quoted.

The total of 517,113 – compared with 511,928 last year – is the highest since records began in 1974 and represents around 7 per cent of the school-age population.

The Independent Schools Council’s annual census reveals that the increase in numbers comes despite the fact that school fees have risen by an average of 3.6 per cent at the same time.

Parents now pay around £15,675 a year to educate a child privately, but head teachers said finances were improving for many families.

The ISC, which represents 1,267 institutions, said one new pupil in five was from overseas, with their numbers up by 4 per cent from 24,382 to 25,267.

Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the organisation, said the overall rise was remarkable and ‘shows parents continue to value an independent education’.

The figures showed many pupils move from the state sector to independent sixth forms, with around 14 per cent of school children over 16 now attending an ISC institution.

The showed pupil numbers are up even in regions hit hard by the recession.

Wales, for example, recorded its first increase since 2008 – up 4.7 per cent from 7,410 to 7,756 pupils.

Pupil numbers have also risen in the North from 68,960 in 2014 to 69,000 this year. A record number of pupils, 170,000, now receive help with their fees, to a value of £836million, up £60million from last year.

Part of the increase in pupil numbers is also down to ten new schools, with 2,000 pupils, joining the ISC in the past year.

Richard Cairns, head of Brighton College, said pupil numbers at his school had risen by 34 per cent since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.

He added: ‘With young people facing a tougher jobs market than ever, parents are responding by investing money in their children’s secondary education in order to make sure that they get the top grades that leading universities now demand.’

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