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Monday, 25 June, 2001, 13:21 GMT 14:21 UK
Private school fees set to rise
Eton
Better pay for state school teachers has had an impact
Fees for independent schools are expected to rise by at least 7% for the next academic year - mainly because of competition from teachers' pay in the state sector.

The increase could mean increases of up to 1,360 or 480 a year for parents paying annual fees of 17,000 or 6,000 respectively.


The introduction of performance-related pay for teachers in the maintained sector has meant some independent schools have had to follow suit

Mike Sant
The Independent Schools Bursars' Association predicted the rise after surveying approximately 800 private schools, including top institutions such as Eton, Harrow and Winchester.

Secretary of the association, Mike Sant, said the main reason for the increases was teachers' pay.

With the state sector now offering salaries for classroom teachers of over 30,000, the private sector has had to sit up and take note, he said.

"The introduction of performance-related pay for teachers in the maintained sector has meant some independent schools have had to follow suit because it's in their contracts," Mr Sant said.

AS-levels

The new AS-level syllabus had also put demands on school budgets, he said.

"In some cases, schools have had to bring in new staff to teach these courses.

"And building costs are another factor - our schools fees cover the cost of building maintenance," Mr Sant said.

"Builders aren't particularly hungry at the moment - I'm not saying they can charge what they want, but building costs have undoubtedly gone up."

There was also the cost of the information and communications technology revolution.

"There's the cost of computers - maintaining and replacing them," Mr Sant said.

Still popular

But the popularity of independent schools does not appear to be in decline, with figures published in January by the Independent Schools Information Service (Isis) showing a 1.4% increase in the number of pupils attending private schools on the previous year.

"People are prepared to pay for it because they know they will get a good service," Mr Sant said.

"While the maintained sector struggles and has to introduce four-day weeks and so on, this will continue to be the case."

But he warned that the independent sector would have to be wary of pricing itself out of the market.

And would pupils notice improvements in provision as a result of the increased fees?

"Pupils will benefit from the increased fees, in that we can recruit and retain better teachers," he said.

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See also:

27 Apr 01 | Mike Baker
Private schools: Here to stay?
24 Apr 01 | Education
Private schools take more pupils
18 Jun 01 | Education
Private schools fear teacher crisis
22 Nov 00 | Education
Private sector 'barrier to equality'
06 Dec 00 | Education
Private and state school partnership
17 Nov 00 | Education
Boarding schools tout for US pupils
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