Page last updated at 17:29 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 18:29 UK

More children in private schools

pupils in school grounds
Schools have invested heavily in better facilities

Independent schools are not only holding their own in the recession but have slightly increased their share of England's school population.

First results from the annual census of schools show an overall decline in the total number of pupils by 51,630 to 7,890,780.

But the numbers in the independent sector rose by 380 to 569,080, up from 7.16% of the total to 7.21%.

Ten years ago it was 6.71%. Then, there were 225,450 more pupils in total.

Fees up

The figures relate to "full-time equivalents", in which part-time pupils count as 0.5, rather than the actual headcount.

The separate census last week from the largest member organisation in the UK independent sector, the Independent Schools Council, showed there were 3,000 more pupils overall.

On a like-for-like basis, comparing the same schools this year and last, its members' pupil numbers were down by just 103 despite the straitened economic conditions, while fees had risen by almost 6%.

At the time it was not possible to get an up-to-date idea of the sector's market share because the state school census figures had not been published.

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