Private school fees can cost half the average parental income

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New research has found that private school fees are now at their least affordable for middle class parents and can cost more than half of the average annual income.

The research found that day school fees are more than a quarter of a year's pre-tax salary - compared with less than one seventh in 1968.

Meanwhile boarding school fees now cost middle class parents more than 50 per cent of their average pre-tax salary.

The research by David Turner for his a new book on the history of Britain's private schools, found that affordability declined between the Eighties and the recession and that from 2008 onward it declined dramatically as middle class families incomes stopped growing as quickly.

Many top public schools charge more than £30,000 a year, and overall fees continue to rise above the rate of inflation, recent figures show.

Boarding fees at Eton, Winchester and Harrow all exceed £34,000 a year, while at top day schools they can be more than £20,000.

A study by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) showed that fees at independent schools have increased by 3.6 per cent this year.

Tony Little, head of Eton College in Berkshire, said many private schools had become out of reach for those who might traditionally have hoped to send their children there. He said that while heads had increased efforts to recruit pupils from poorer homes with bursaries, the soaring costs were still an issue for most families.

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