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No big drop

It is not true that "fewer children are being educated in the private sector than since the mid 1980s", as your report on the 1995 Independent Schools Information Service census (TES, April 28) alleges.

Pupil numbers in independent schools are at about the same level as in the late 1980s, when they experienced a period of unprecedented growth.

Rolls grew by 10 per cent between 1984 and 1991 at a time when the overall number of children in Britain was still declining; the independent sector's "market share" therefore increased substantially.

A relatively small drop in pupil numbers between 1992 and 1995 - of about 13,000 in a total population in ISIS-member schools approaching half a million - has coincided with a modest upturn in the national child population; the independent sector's market share has therefore dropped from 7.5 per cent to just over 7 per cent.

By concentrating on the decline in boarding (which is actually less marked than in recent years) your report underplays the 3,000 increase in day pupils, to a total of 382,208; yet more than 82 per cent of our pupils are in the day sector.

Your report selects as "notable" areas of the world from which independent schools are recruiting pupils those parts which are among the least important (the Middle East, central America and the Caribbean).

Of 6,779 new foreign pupils joining ISIS schools in 1994-95, nearly three-quarters came from elsewhere in Europe and from the Far East.


National director Independent Schools Information Service 56 Buckingham Gate London SW1

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