An era of private gain;Hot Data;Briefing;News amp; Opinion

19th November 1999 at 00:00
Independent schools are continuing to flourish, says John Howson.

THE number of pupils attending independent schools is still rising. Latest figures show an increase of just under 3,000 pupils between January 1998 and January 1999.

The present increase started in 1994 when, after two years of decline during the recession of the early 90s, pupil numbers resumed their upward trend.

The latest total does, however, reflect a slowing of the rate of increase of recent years. Pupil numbers rose by more than 12,000 between 1996 and 1998.

Most of the recent growth has been due to an increase in the number of girls attending fee-paying schools, up from 249,000 in 1989 to 264,000 this year. On the other hand, the number of boys has remained static at about 283,000.

There was a small reduction in the number of independent schools during the past decade. However, this masks a switch from single-sex schools to mixed schools. The number of boys' schools has declined from 465 in 1989 to just 270 in 1999.The number of girls' schools has dropped from 414 to 324 in the same period.

During the past decade, pupil-teacher ratios in independent schools improved from 11.1 pupils per teacher to 10.0. Over the next few years pupil numbers may be affected by the ending of the Assisted Places Scheme.

John Howson is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University. E-mail:

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