- The rising cost of school fees is just ahead of inflation, and four times faster than average earnings growth in past five years
- The average annual private school fee for day pupils is now £12,864
- This is equivalent to 38% of average gross annual full-time earnings
According to the latest research by Lloyds Bank Private Banking, private school fees have increased by an average of 20% in the past five years, a rate of growth that is faster than the increase in the Retail Price Index (17%) over the same period. Since 2010 the average annual private school fee for day pupils has increased from £10,686 to £12,864 in 2015.
Whilst the average fee has out-grown the Retail Price Index by three percentage points it has increased four times faster than the 5% rise in full time gross annual earnings since 2010. In the past year the average fee has grown by 3% whilst both inflation and earnings rose by 1%.
Parents who had sent a child to a private school since 2010 would have incurred an average total cost of £70,3591 in fees over the period. In London this would have been on average £82,350, the highest amount across the country and 46% higher than in the North (£56,400), which was the most affordable region. (See Table 1)
Many professional occupations pay more than a third of earnings towards school fees2
The average annual private school fee in 2015 of £12,864 is equivalent to 38% of annual average gross full-time earnings of £34,015; in 2010 the comparable ratio was 33%.
As a result of school fee inflation, there are now several relatively well paid occupations such as pharmacists, vets, civil engineers, and opticians, where someone on the average earnings for that occupation would be now be paying over a third of their gross annual earnings in school fees.
Sarah Deaves, Private Banking Director at Lloyds Bank, commented: “With the average cost of sending a child to private school now almost £13,000 annually, it is more important than ever that parents start to think about their finances and plan ahead. This will help to ensure that they can provide the education they desire for their children over the course of their school lives.”
Over one third of pupils receive financial help with their fees
The number of pupils at the Independent Schools Council’s (ISC's) member schools who receive a financial contribution towards the payment of their school fee reached 167,7983 in 2015, a 4% increase on 2010. Pupils who receive financial help now account for 39.5% of all pupils at ISC schools, slightly higher than the 33.3% that had assistance in 2010. The ISC’s member schools are the highest contributor, providing assistance to 27.8% (27.9% 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%, from an annual contribution of £3,811 in 2010 to £4,913 per pupil in 2015.
Private school pupil numbers remain unchanged since 2010
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%, pupils in the other age groups have increased. The number of children in nursery schools have grown 13%, those in junior school increased by 4% and the number of sixth formers is up 5%.
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 in London and the North
Regionally, the biggest rises have been in Greater London where fees have grown by 26% during the period. The next biggest increases were in the North (22%), East Anglia, the South West and the South East (all 21%). The lowest average increases in annual fees were in the East Midlands and Scotland (both 19%).
Private school fees are the 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 North4 (£10,359), where they are almost a third lower than in the capital, and in Scotland (£10,773). In 2010 there were just four regions where the average annual fee exceeded £10,000, now they are all above that level.