INDEPENDENT schools are growing in popularity despite Labour's drive to raise the profile of state schools for middle-income families. Deprived areas such as Newcastle, Blackburn and Manchester have some of the largest numbers of children attending private schools. In Hackney, one of the poorest authorities in England, 17.5 per cent of children attend fee-paying schools. Overall, the independent school population has risen from 413,130 in 1999 to 423,216 in 2003, equal to 6.1 per cent of all pupils.
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