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Number of Chinese pupils at independent schools soars

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The number of Chinese students attending private schools in the UK has leaped by almost a fifth in the past year, research shows, while the number of students from France and Germany has fallen.

The Independent Schools Council annual census, published today, reveals a 17.5 per cent rise in the number of students at independent schools who are from mainland China and whose parents live overseas. Similarly, the number of Russian students has climbed by 4.3 per cent. 

But while the number of students from the East is increasing, the number from Europe has dropped, with those from France and Germany falling by 3 per cent and 4.3 per cent respectively.

The number of children from Thailand, Africa and Central and South America also rose over the past year, while those from North America and India fell. 

The figures mean that international pupils with parents living overseas now make up 5 per cent of the total amount of students in the independent sector, up slightly from 4.8 per cent last year. 

The research also finds that the total number of pupils at private schools has reached its highest level since records began. The schools were educating 517,113 pupils in the year to January 2015, up from 511,928 the previous year. It is the highest figure since such data was first recorded in 1974.

Barnaby Lenon, chair of the ISC, told TES that the increase in pupil numbers was due in part to the growth of bursaries. “We’ve made a huge effort to increase the number of bursaries, and that means more families can afford to send their children to our schools,” he said.

Mr Lenon pointed to the improving economy and the fact independent schools were outperforming the state sector as other possible causes. 

“Last summer, exam results in the country as a whole dipped, but for independent schools they got better,” he said. “Some parents may have noticed that.”

For the full story, get the 1 May edition of TES on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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