The past ten years have been a time of growth for independent schools. Despite some well-publicised accounts of schools falling into financial difficulties as the recession hits parents' pockets, there was a higher proportion of pupils in fee-paying schools in 200910 than in 2000 everywhere except in the North West and South West of England.
Scotland, together with Yorkshire and Humber, witnessed the most significant increases - more than 11 per cent in both cases.
However, it is London and the South East where the proportion of pupils educated in private schools is highest, with more than 10 per cent of pupils in the London area, and more than 11 per cent in the South East, in private schools, although the latter figure may be slightly misleading because of the significant number of boarding schools in the region.
Many of these schools are also key earners of foreign currency, attracting overseas pupils who want the brand of education they deliver, with its close links to the highly regarded UK higher education system.
Of course, the question remains: if parents opt out of the state system, does that weaken both the system and society?
What is clear is that if parents can set up free schools funded by the state, then some will no doubt opt for that route rather than pay fees. In doing so, they will cost the state more at a time when it is trying to cut expenditure.
John Howson is director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.
PROPORTION OF PUPILS WHO ATTEND INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS IN 200910*
North East: 3.14%
Yorkshire Humber: 4.13%
North West: 4.72%
E. Midlands: 4.77%
W. Midlands: 4.96%
South West: 7.57%
South East: 11.32%
*Figures to 2009 in Wales and Scotland, 2010 in England.