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State schools are more expensive than Independent Schools

Posted on 8th Feb 2014 @ 4:52 PM

State Education costs half as much again as independent education....
A lot has been recently broadcast on education, in particular the debate over a specious notion that private schools do better because they are better funded and enjoy superior resources.
I think that those protagonists should be better armed with the facts, so that they might opine with some qualification.

In fact, independent schools are not usually as wealthy as are state schools! Per capita, state schools cost around 50%* more to operate than do ‘Private’ Schools.

State schools appear to have very similar funding as independent schools but, whereas state schools spend all the money and often go in to deficit, independent schools manage to retain a profit from their income. The profit is used to fund school development and to pay for many educational bursaries granted to children whose parents may not afford the fees. ‘Private school’ parents, of course, also pay for the education of those in the state sector, through taxation, as well as for their own children. 

There was once a culture in which the educated regarded as a civic duty, not to burden tax payers with services they could afford – even if that meant sacrificing holidays and fancy cars, to pay for an education in which they had faith and a system which would extend benefit to those in the state scheme, who might not otherwise receive beyond basic literacy.

The premise for the argument* is supported by 2013 figures, culled from data published by the Office of Statistics, the Department of Education and the Treasury Office is as follows:
Summary of State spending (2013) on primary and secondary education: Total 69.9 Billion (total teacher related cost, 18.3 billion) 
Number of children in state education: 7,500,000. Mean cost per child in state education: £9,320 in total: to make possible a direct comparison with independent schools.
There are 23,248 state schools under the Dept of Education. (2013)

According to the DoE, the number of children at ‘private’ schools was 579700, in 2013. 
And what are ‘Private’ schools? They are simply schools that are not funded by tax-payers. A small number of them are Public schools whose confusing name goes back to Henry VIII, when Eton became the first one. They were called ‘public’ because they catered to the public, centuries before the first Education Act: of 1870, when ‘shilling a week’, Church schools became the first system of state education. Thus Public Schools derive their name from having been traditionally open to the children of parents who could not afford tutors and regardless of where they lived or their religion. They were also traditionally independent of some regulations and conditions applied to state funded schools. 

Prep schools, (or preparatory schools) prepare younger children for entry to senior school at the age of eleven to thirteen. Some former grammar schools converted to an independent fee paying model following the 1965, Circular 10/65, by which the Wilson Government ended the Direct Grant Scheme, forcing independent schools to be wholly self-financing or otherwise becoming comprehensive schools.
There are around 2,500 independent schools in the UK, which educate around 615,000 children, including ‘pre-school’ children, aged under five.
COSTS and Fees: The structural costs at full-time ‘private schools’ varies between £4000 and £20,000 per year – the high end costs catering to special needs schools; where staff/pupil ratios are as high as one. National curriculum schools tend to have actual, per pupil costs of around £6000 a year, compared to more than £9000 in state schools.

Fees and income usually aim to retain operating reserves of ten to fifteen percent. But a median example, catering to the National curriculum might be Cheadle Hulme School, at £6500 per annum, not including the cost of providing school bursaries. Bursaries at Cheadle Hulme are a very important and expensive tradition - much more so than in many other independent schools.
Fee income at Cheadle Hulme is charged (2013) as follows: 
Senior School tuition £3,448 per term (including Sixth Form): Junior School tuition £2,675 per term (Year 3 to Year 6): £2,490 per term (Reception to Year 2)
From the fees, the school makes provision for around 200, annual school bursaries, repairs, maintenance and building improvements. 

Amongst independent schools, it is not alone in its pastoral care, its desire to improve community, or its keen appreciation that education amounts to more than school certificates. For this reason, more than any other, I remain a supporter of Independent Schools and much regret the passing of the Direct Grant scheme, where the opportunities they represented were open to all – not just to those parents who might afford to educate other folk’s children as well as their own!