Private schools are fostering overseas ‘cliques’ as they increasingly price themselves out of the UK market, it has been revealed. This is from the Daily Mail…
Martin Stephen, former chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, said the independent sector is ‘perilously close to tragedy’ amid inflation-busting fee rises.
It risks becoming the ‘sole preserve of the UK’s most wealthy families’ as many British parents – who were privately educated themselves – cannot afford the exorbitant charges.
His warning comes as an influential guide said that some private schools are packing their boarding houses with international students in a bid to fill growing numbers of empty British places.
The trend has led to some schools having ‘houses full of mature Chinese pupils’ who plug themselves into the internet and ‘refuse to join house activities’.
One girls’ school had ‘for a time, only two non-Chinese boarders’ which meant the ‘dining room was a babble of gambling cliques – (that) could have been in Beijing’, according to The Good Schools’ Guide.
Dr Stephen, the former high master of St Paul’s School in London, said he was worried that private schools are ‘marching steadily, resolutely and confidently over the edge of a steep and life-threatening cliff’.
Writing in the Times Educational Supplement, he said: ‘Independent schools are in danger of pricing themselves out of the market.
‘They are also in danger of becoming the sole preserve of the UK’s most wealthy families.
My father was a Sheffield GP who was able to send three sons to boarding school. Try that now.
‘I have met a growing number of independently-educated young parents, our schools’ most obvious market, who have moved to the catchment area of a good state school, having baulked at the prospect of paying fees.
‘I feel in my bones that the way the numbers are stacking up, our sector is perilously close to tragedy.
‘I do not know what the percentage is of the population who could afford to send their children to one of our schools – 10 per cent? 15 per cent?
‘I cannot say exactly, but I do know that we are creeping ever closer to the lower figure, and it doesn’t leave enough people on the ground to stand and fight for us when the going gets rough.’
Meanwhile, The Good Schools Guide reveals that as fees have slipped out of the reach of many UK parents and the economic downturn affects pupil numbers, some boarding schools are over-exploiting rich overseas families.