As a blog about the management of Independent Schools, this choice piece of news from the Guardian on the rise in school fees, is rather sobering.
Fees have become less affordable relative to average earnings, according to Mtmconsulting’s Independent Education Sector Report 2007. Between 2001 and 2006, average school fees rose by 39%, compared with an 18% rise in average earnings. The average pay of managers and professionals – the main customers of private schools – has risen by only 15%.
The report (which at £350 a pop, is not something to purchase anytime soon – I’d rather spend the money on school!) has a short summary which points to such factors the development of niche schools, federations, corporate school groups and the vulnerability of the 14% of parents from outside the business and management classes.
I’m not certain who comissioned this report. Certainly not the ISC, it seems, as it countered the report by stating:
The fact remains: numbers in the independent sector have risen in 18 of the past 20 years. Costs are an important factor but are not the key or only driver in the choice of independent education. Parents choose independent schools because they provide an outstanding education for children at all levels of ability
I would suggest an additional point to make about the future of independent schools and that is that they will develop a more social consciousness. There is a contradiction in that schools which require fees are exclusive. However, and partly because their hand has been forced by the public benefit test, schools will begin to look at their ethos and their curriculum and ask what can be done to ensure their pupils recieve a rich and rewarding experience?
In much the same way that the National Association of Independent Schools in the USA, the independent schools movement the UK has to band together with a clearer, universal set of goals which demonstrate that they are not a set of separate, self-serving entities. We have it in our gift to offer our pupils an incredibly enriching experience that will provide them with the foundation for a successful life as an active and socially conscious adult.