I've written a Voices article today about private schools and how much they charge. In the piece I mentioned some recent research from the Good Schools Guide which noted that in London average private school fees have risen at triple the rate of inflation over the past five years,
I've now delved a little deeper into the data, using the Independent Schools Council's annual census. And what that data reveals is an even starker picture of private school fees rising faster than the cost of living.
If we go back 25 years we discover that average fees have risen 553 per cent. Boarding fees are up 464 per cent. But consumer prices in that time have risen only 201 per cent and average wages are up 217 per cent:
This next chart shows the annual percentage change:
Not only have private school fees been outstripping consumer price growth nearly every year for the past quarter century, but average earnings growth over that period too.
And don't forget the levels. Here's the average cost of sending a child to a private school for a year according to the ISC's reports and how it's risen:
It now costs more than £30,000 to send a child to board for a year. And it's £15,500 to send them to a private day school. Bear in mind that the average pay packet is £491 a week, so around £25,000 year.
I also mentioned in the article the concerns of the editor of the Good Schools Guide that schools are charging more because they're spending ever greater sums each year on fancier sporting and music facilities and the like, not so much to give pupils a better education, but to attract super-rich parents from abroad.
That's borne out in the capital expenditure figures I gleaned from the ISC reports:
The picture is unambiguous. Fees are rising fast, outstripping the cost of living and average wages. And private schools are spending a good deal of the extra revenue on sprucing up their already often impressive facilities.
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