Private education fees soar

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New research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows that thousand of middle-income families are being priced out of private schools as fees grow three times faster than incomes.

The rise in fees is due to demand by wealthy parents to buy a privileged education for their children.

Day school charges have risen 83 per cent since the early 1990s, even though the average income of families with children has grown only 31 per cent, according to the research. However, a rise in the number of families on six-figure salaries and a growing tendency for parents to make financial sacrifices for their children's education is thought to be fuelling the fee rises.

It means middle-income parents, such as police officers and teachers are increasingly unlikely to be able to afford private schools, the research suggests.

The study found children were three times more likely to go to private school if their parents attended one. But the cost of private education and the quality of local schools were also linked to parental decisions to choose independent schools.

If the proportion of pupils in state schools achieving five A* to C grades at GCSE was to rise by 5 per cent, the proportion of pupils attending private school would fall by 0.3 percentage points.

Meanwhile, a £1,300 rise in annual fees reduced the proportion of pupils attending private schools by 0.3 percentage points, according to the study.

The research found that the proportion of pupils attending fee-paying schools in England rose from 6.9 per cent in 1996 to 7.2 per cent in2008.