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Private school fees up 20 per cent since 2010

Kit Klarenberg
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Kit Klarenberg

Private school fees have increased by an average of 20 per cent in the past five years, outpacing inflation and earnings growth.

In the past year the average fee has grown by 3 per cent, while both inflation and earnings rose by 1 per cent, according to research by Lloyds Bank Private Banking.

Today, average annual private school fees for day pupils stand at £12,864, up from £10,686 in 2010.

Parents who sent a child to a private school in 2010 on average have incurred a total cost of £70,359 in the past five years. In London, this average rises to £82,350, the highest in the country and 46 per cent higher than the North (£56,400), the most affordable region.

Fees vs. earnings

The average annual private school fee of £12,864 is equivalent to 38 per cent of annual average gross full-time earnings of £34,015; in 2010 the ratio was 33 per cent.

The total number of day pupils at private schools is largely unchanged compared to five years’ ago with around 450,000 registered pupils. While the number of senior school pupils (11 to 16) has fallen by 4 per cent, pupils in the other age groups have increased. The number of children in nursery schools has grown 13 per cent, those in junior school increased by 4 per cent and the number of sixth formers is up 5 per cent.

The ratio of state funded pupils versus those in an independent school has also remained broadly stable since 2010. Five years ago there were 20.17 state funded pupils to every independent school pupil compared with 20.82 today.5

Largest increases

Regionally, the biggest increases in fees have been in Greater London (26 per cent), the North (22 per cent), East Anglia, the South West and the South East (all 21 per cent). The lowest average increases in annual fees were in the East Midlands and Scotland (both 19 per cent).

Private school fees are highest in southern England, with average annual fees in London of £15,378 and £14,334 in the South East. The lowest average fees are in the North (£10,359), almost a third lower than in the capital, and in Scotland (£10,773). In 2010, average annual fees exceeded £10,000 in four regions. Today, averages in every region exceed that level.

Financial help with fees

The number of pupils at Independent Schools Council (ISC) member schools receiving a financial contribution towards their school fee reached 167,798 in 2015, a 4 per cent increase on 2010.

Pupils who receive financial help now account for 39.5 per cent of all pupils at ISC schools, slightly higher than the 33.3 per cent with assistance in 2010.

ISC member schools are the highest contributor, providing assistance to 27.8 per cent (27.9 per cent in 2010) of all pupils with over half of the assistance coming via various bursary and scholarship schemes.

The average value of assistance provided by ISC schools has grown by 28 per cent, from an annual contribution of £3,811 in 2010 to £4,913 per pupil in 2015.

Average annual fees by region

Region 2010 2014 2015 1 year change 5 year change Total cost
Scotland £9,048 £10,431 £10,773 3% 19% £60,336
North £8,493 £10,017 £10,359 3% 22% £56,400
Wales £9,333 £11,124 £11,232 1% 20% £62,373
W Midlands £9,249 £10,800 £11,094 3% 20% £61,176
E Midlands £9,861 £11,388 £11,766 3% 19% £65,268
East Anglia £10,821 £12,576 £13,089 4% 21% £71,538
South West £11,046 £12,939 £13,353 3% 21% £73,314
Greater London £12,240 £14,829 £15,378 4% 26% £82,350
South East £11,862 £13,947 £14,334 3% 21% £78,771
Great Britain £10,686 £12,450 £12,864 3% 20% £70,359

Source: ISC as at January 2015; North includes the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber

Sarah Deaves, private banking director at Lloyds Bank, said: “It is more important than ever parents start to think about their finances and plan ahead. This will help to ensure they can provide the education they desire for their children over the course of their school lives.”