No wonder private school numbers are rising

The Telegraph 10/11/14, a new report has revealed the number of pupils at private schools is rising at its fastest rate since 2008. 

A report from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers reveals the number of pupils at private schools is rising at its fastest rate since the financial crash of 2008. All this, despite those well-publicised fee hikes.

I’m not surprised in the slightest. Demand for private schools is still massive, in my view. Indeed opinion polls consistently show that the majority of parents would educate their children privately, if they could afford to.

In November 2012, for example, a poll by the Independent Schools’ Council revealed well over half of parents – 57 per cent – would like to send their children to private schools.

And why not? A private education is an excellent investment. Findings from the Institute of Fiscal Studies showed private pupils can expect to earn around £1,500 a year more than other young adults with exactly the same qualifications.

But it’s not just about future earnings. I believe a private education represents excellent value for money. Just look at what pupils get for all those fees.

Obviously private schools offer excellent teaching, in small set sizes. This is of course a major reason for wanting to “go private” identified in that ISC survey. With smaller class sizes and excellent resources (top private schools are charities, so any profits are ploughed straight back into even better facilities), it’s not surprising they achieve such excellent exam results.

In addition, private pupils also receive a broader cultural and intellectual education for the money. At most independents, there will be an abundance of extra-curricular activities, which contribute to the all-round excellence of any child’s education.

As a matter of course, there will be outside speakers coming into school to inform and entertain pupils – just check out any leading school’s website. Often these will be big-name politicians, historians, sports stars or writers. In addition, there will be a plethora of concerts, plays and debates – all adding to the sense of intellectual stimulation.

On any given day, a pupil could do any one of the following: listen to a talk or lecture, go to a concert, or join an academic-based society. Sometimes, there are simply too many activities to keep up with.

And that’s before all the excellent sport on offer is taken into account: with matches guaranteed to take place each Saturday and regular midweek practices to improve skills. And not simply in the main sports either: those not so keen on rugby, hockey or soccer can opt for squash, basketball, golf or tennis instead.

In fact, the more you think about it, the more average day school fees of £12,700 a year seem excellent value for money. Parents are more accustomed now to putting a price on education, what with university degrees currently costing £9,000 a year. Suddenly, these kinds of fee levels make private schools look increasingly cost-effective.

So perhaps those 57 per cent of parents will be thinking even more seriously about sending their children to private schools in future. After all, like it or not, many of them will end up helping to fund university courses that aren’t that much cheaper.

Is it really any surprise demand is surging?

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