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Independent school pupil increase

The number of pupils in independent schools seems to be rising slightly - despite expectations that they would face a downturn during the recession.

A survey of schools belonging to the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference (HMC) showed a year-on-year increase in pupils of 0.5%.

But it did find about 1,140 pupils had left because of financial reasons.

HMC chairman, Andrew Grant, said schools had tried to "keep fee increases to a minimum".

The annual survey, based on responses from 155 of the conference's 250 schools, found pupil numbers holding firm - with a high proportion of head teachers confident that their schools could "survive the recession".

Parental demand

The survey suggests that there were about 950 more pupils starting in these HMC schools this September than the previous year - with a total number of pupils in the region of 190,000 across the UK.

This group represents some of the most prestigious independent schools.

But the survey echoes the findings earlier this year from the broader-based Independent Schools Council which also found a slight increase in pupil numbers - up to a total of 569,080.

This means that 7.21% of pupils in the UK are being taught in independent schools.

Mr Grant, head of St Albans School in Hertfordshire, said the HMC survey showed that "parental demand for high quality independent education remains very strong, despite the gloomy economic background".

He highlighted how schools had responded to cash worries by keeping down fee increases.

The latest figures show an annual increase of 3.4% - compared to 5.9% in the previous year.

"It is worth noting, too, how seriously schools have tried to keep down the cost of education to parents," he said.

"Many of the costs schools have to bear continue to rise, not least teachers' salaries which are locked into the national three-year deal, but schools and their governors have clearly seen the need to keep fee increases to a minimum."

The survey found 0.6% of pupils had been forced to leave by financial reasons - and only 2% of head teachers (about five schools) did not believe that they were in a strong position to withstand the recession.

An ATL teachers' union conference earlier this year heard claims that 30 independent schools had closed or were threatened with closure because of the recession.

Source: Independent school pupil increase

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Posted in: News by SoulRiser on October 8, 2009 @ 12:03 PM

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