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Pensions to drive up private fees

PRIVATE schools may have to raise their fees to cover a huge rise in pension contributions imposed by the Government.

Employers' contributions will rise from 8.35 per cent to 13.5 per cent from April, making it almost certain that many parents will face fee increases of 10 per cent in the 20034 school year.

The Government will allow schools some leeway in paying the amounts due between April and September. "We will be offering them the option to defer the increased pension payments until January 2004," said a Department for Education and Skills spokesperson, who added that schools had been told there would be an increase.

But bursars said neither the concession nor the notice period had been enough. Malcolm Gilbertson, bursar at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' school in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, said: "The Treasury said it will allow us to pay over time but many schools do not want to do that, because it is too complex and also because it allows the Treasury to say 'haven't we been kind to the independent sector?'."

Large schools with many teachers will be hardest hit. Andrew Wynn, bursar at Eton College, said the increase would cost the school about pound;330,000 a year.

Friday magazine, 19

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