Number of pupils at independent schools surpasses pre-crash level

The Guardian is reporting that figures from the latest census in independent schools suggesting more pupils are attending fee-paying schools now than at the start of the economic downturn in 2008…

There are 511,928 pupils at 1,257 schools belonging to the Independent Schools Council (ISC), compared with 508,601 pupils at 1,223 schools in 2013 and exceeding the pre-crash numbers for the first time.

The number of pupils at ISC schools reached 514,000 in 2009 but dropped in subsequent years because of the downturn, dipping to 506,500 in 2011.

In all, 7% of schoolchildren are at independent schools. The underlying trend over the last 25 years has been growth, and in 20 of the last 30 years there has been a year-on-year increase in the number of pupils at ISC schools.

“Some may choke on their coffee when they see that the number of pupils at ISC schools has gone up again,” said Barnaby Lenon, chairman of the ISC. “How is it that the independent sector has confounded the prediction of doom and gloom? At the heart of it all are high standards that have put our schools way ahead of the competition.”

However, the figures are also likely to reflect a demographic surge that has resulted in an increasing number of children starting school. There has been similar trend at this age range in state schools…

Pupils from overseas helped to buttress numbers during the recession, and last year their numbers rose 1.4% to a total of 25,912. The two regions supplying the largest number of overseas pupils are Europe (38%) and Hong Kong and China (37.2%).

This year the ISC broke down the number of overseas pupils into those with parents living overseas and those with parents in the UK, so it is harder to make direct comparisons between 2013 and 2014 on the numbers of overseas pupils overall...

More at: Number of pupils at independent schools surpasses pre-crash level

Are you surprised by these figures and the extent of the turnaround in numbers after the decline from 2009? Recent stories have suggested more parents are seeing the state sector as a viable alternative to private schooling but do these numbers indicate otherwise? Please give us your insights and reactions in the comments or via Twitter…

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