Costs beyond average families

Rising fees making private schools ‘unaffordable’

George HeriotFees at Scotland’s private schools have risen significantly more than average earnings and have become increasingly less affordable to many families.

Parents of children leaving Scotland’s private schools this summer will have spent almost £129,000 on their education, according to new figures.

Since 2004, when those children started started primary 1, annual fees have risen 58% from £7,170 to £11,310.

The average annual private school fee is now equivalent to 40% of annual average gross full-time earnings of £33,149, according to the research by Bank of Scotland Private Banking.

With school fees rising by significantly more than earnings growth, it has become more difficult for the average earner in many occupations to send their children to private school.

Donald Gateley, head of Bank of Scotland private banking, said: “A place at a private school is a huge financial commitment, with an outlay of £129,000 to see one child through Primary and Secondary education. 

“With an average annual fee of £11,310 per child, it is so important to start planning your finances early if you want a private school education for your children.”

There are 102 independent schools across Scotland of which 70 are members of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools. According to the SCIS, its members educate around 30-32,000 pupils in Scotland representing around 4.3% of the school age population in Scotland.

The figure is significantly higher in Edinburgh with about one in four pupils educated at an independent school, the highest proportion in the UK.

Scottish students from independent schools represented 26% of all students at the four “ancient” universities – Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews – in 2014/15. Of these, 71% received an offer of admission at one of these institutions compared to only 29% of state-school entrants.

Fees up by a fifth in past five years

Over the past five years, the average annual fee for day pupils has risen by 19%, from £9,492 in 2011 to £11,310.

Third of pupils receive financial assistance, with total value of contribution rising to £850m

A total of 160,216 pupils across Britain currently receive help, such as bursaries, with their fees representing 32% of all pupils. This help totals £850m, an increase of 2.6% on last year. A significant majority (85%) of total fee assistance is provided directly from the schools themselves: ISC schools currently provide more than £700m of fee assistance, an increase of 3.3% on the previous year. 

Private school pupil numbers in Britain remain unchanged since 2011

Although the average fee across Britain has grown by 21% since 2011, pupil numbers remain largely unchanged compared to five years ago.

While the number of senior school pupils (11 to 16) has fallen slightly (by 3%), pupils in the other age groups have increased. The number of sixth formers (17 to 19) has grown by 10%, children in nursery schools (0 to 3) and those in junior school (4 to 10) have both risen by 6%.

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