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Tuesday, 24 April, 2001, 11:03 GMT 12:03 UK
Private schools take more pupils
St George's Ascot
More girls are becoming boarders
More pupils went to independent schools last year - the sixth annual rise in a row.

This follows earlier statistics showing that private school pupils are declining as a proportion of the total school population.

Independent schools
492,000 pupils
1.4% increase on last year
6% of pupils in private schools
Down from 6.8% of school population
And the number of boarders has continued the decline that has been going on for many years.

But, bucking that trend, the number of girls boarding rose slightly last year.

The information, provided by the Independent Schools Information Service (Isis), also shows that private school fees rose by an average of 6.7% last year.

When the annual census was taken, in January, there were 491,942 pupils in the 1,275 schools covered by the Independent Schools Council - which is about 80% of the UK's independent sector.

This was 6,557 more than a year earlier, a rise of 1.4% - but there are more children of school age.

Financial assistance

Government figures published earlier this month showed that independent schools' share of the five to 16 age group in England fell from 6.8% in 1991 to 6% in 1996.

After that it remained constant up to 2000, the latest year available. The overall figures for 2001 have not yet been published.

Although the independent schools' fees went up even more than they had the previous year, the proportion of pupils getting financial help is now almost one third.

Most of that aid came from schools themselves, Isis said.

The state-run assisted places scheme, abolished by the incoming Labour government, is still being phased out as pupils leave school.

An analysis of 561 schools in Britain that were covered by it shows that the number still in the scheme is now down to 19,624. Yet the total number of pupils in those schools went up 1%.


Isis national director David Woodhead said the schools' "resilience" was due to their popularity with parents and their efforts to find other sources of funding for pupils.

He also points to a slight increase in the numbers being recruited from state primary schools as indicating the reversal of what had been a trend towards greater "social exclusivity".

Boarding numbers went down again but by the smallest percentage for almost 20 years.

And Isis said it recorded its first ever rise in boarders - among girls.

The numbers of pupils coming from Hong Kong and from British families living abroad showed increases of a quarter, year-on-year.

More than 500 pupils came from mainland China - up more than 14%.

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See also:

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06 Dec 00 | Education
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