Bank of Scotland

Private school fees in Scotland rise at nearly twice the rate of inflation in the past decade

28 August 2012

Private school fees in Scotland have increased by an average of 63% in the past decade, according to latest research by Bank of Scotland - a rate of growth that is 1.7 times faster than the increase in the Retail Price Index (37%) over the same period. Since 2002 the average annual private school fee has increased from £6,0391 to £9,816 in 2012.

Over the same period, on average fees have increased by 68% in Britain as a whole, just ahead of the growth seen in Scotland’s private schools. The largest rises have been in Greater London and the South West with fees increasing in both regions by 79% over the decade. Outside Scotland the lowest average increases were in the West Midlands (53%) and the North (60%).

The average fee of £9,816 charged by Scotland’s private schools is 14% below the average for the UK as a whole (£11,457) and 27% below those paid by parents in Greater London (£13,359) which are the highest. Only in the North2 of England (£9,171) are average fees lower than in Scotland.

Growth in annual fees lower than the rise inflation since 2007
Private school fees have increased significantly more slowly in the last five years than during 2002 to 2007. Since the start of the economic and financial downturn in 2007, the average annual private school fee in Scotland has grown by 16%. During the same period the RPI rose by 18%.

Private school fees have increased as a proportion of average earnings
The average annual private school fee in 2012 of £9,816 is equivalent to 33% of annual average gross full-time earnings of £30,162 in Scotland; in 2002 the comparable ratio was 27%. With school fees rising by significantly more than the rate of inflation, it has become more difficult for the average earner in many occupations to send their children to private school.

As a result of school fee inflation, there are several relatively well paid occupations - such as those who are architects, IT professionals, engineers and scientists - where someone on the average earnings for that occupation can no longer send their child to private school without assistance from other sources. In 2002, someone employed in these professions, on average earnings, would have been able to afford to send their child to a private school4. (Private school fees are deemed to be affordable for an occupation if they represent 25% or less of gross average annual earnings for someone in that occupation.)

Parents earning the average salary in occupations such as production management, accounting, construction and aviation face the smallest financial burden in sending their child to a fee paying school with the average annual private school fee representing around a fifth (22%) of their annual average gross earnings.

Private school pupil numbers has remained stable over the past decade
The total number of pupils in Scotland’s private schools5 has remained stable at around 27,850 over the decade to 2011. Since 2007 there has been a slight decline of just 2% in pupil numbers.

Willie Raeburn, head of Bank of Scotland Private Banking, commented:
"Private school fees have increased significantly more than inflation in Scotland over the past ten years, making it increasingly difficult for the average worker in many occupations to afford a private school education for their family.
"All parents want to ensure their child receive the best education to help ensure a secure future. It has, therefore, become increasingly vital that parents plan their finances as early as possible if they want private schooling for their children"

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