State schools

The spending gap between private and public schools has more than doubled

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According to one analysis, the gap between private tuition and public school spending per student has more than doubled over the past decade.

Private school tuition has risen more than 20% after inflation since 2009-2010, while basic public school spending per student has fallen 9% in real terms, according to the Institute for Fiscal report. Studies (IFS).

Average private school tuition fees were around £13,600 in 2020-21, while public school spending per pupil in England was around £7,100 – a gap of around £6,500 or more from 90%, according to the report.

In 2009-10 the average fee in independent schools was around £11,100 and total spending per pupil in the public sector was around £8,000 – a difference of around £3,100 or 40%, depending on analysis.

The researchers warned that concerns about inequalities between students in private and public schools “will not be easily resolved as long as the sectors enjoy such different levels of resources”.

The funding gap between the two sectors has always been there, of course, but the fact that it has widened to such an extent remains in the throat

It comes amid concerns that the pandemic has widened the divide between private and public schools.

Private schools in England have seen the biggest absolute increase in top GCSE and A-Level grades this summer compared to other types of schools and colleges, Ofqual data shows.

The IFS report, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, analyzed the average net fees of private schools in the UK (less grants and rebates) and public school expenditure per pupil in England.

He suggested that average private school net tuition fees rose from £11,000 in 2009-10 to £13,700 in 2019-20, an increase in real terms of 23% over the decade.

In comparison, daily public school spending per student decreased by 9% between 2009-2010 and 2019-2020.

Despite the increase in private tuition fees over the decade, the number of students in the schools has “virtually not budged”, according to the report.

But the analysis says there is a “wide spread of spending levels” across the public and private sectors.

Funding for the most disadvantaged public secondary schools is only half the value of average fee levels in private schools, and private tuition fees are 2.4 times higher than funding levels for the poorest public secondary schools. less disadvantaged.

Longstanding concerns about inequalities between students in private and public schools, which have been highlighted during the pandemic, will not begin to be easily resolved as long as the sectors have such different levels of resources.

Luke Sibieta, IFS researcher and author of the report, said: “Over the past decade, the gap in spending per student between private and public schools has more than doubled from a gap (after adjusting for inflation) of £3,100 in 2009-10. at £6,500 in 2020-21.

“Indeed, private tuition fees are now more than 90% higher than the average expenditure per pupil in public schools in England. Tuition at private high schools is about three times higher than funding per student at public high schools.

“The long-standing concerns about inequalities between students in private and public schools, which have been highlighted during the pandemic, will not begin to be easily resolved as long as the sectors benefit from such different levels of resources.

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), said: “It is quite outrageous that the government has cut funding in real terms to schools and colleges over the past decade while Independent tuition fees have increased over the same period. .

“The funding gap between the two sectors has always existed, of course, but the fact that it has widened to such an extent grabs us by the throat.

“This means that while public schools and colleges have been forced to reduce things like subject choice, pastoral support and extracurricular activities – and with secondary class sizes increasing – independent schools have been able to improve. their offer in all these areas. ”

Labour’s shadow education secretary Kate Green said: ‘School budgets have been hammered over the last decade which is holding children back.

“As public school class sizes have skyrocketed and enriching activities – art, sports, music, theater – have been reduced, the gap with private schools has widened further and further.

“The Conservatives have allowed young people in the public sector to be denied the opportunities enjoyed by their peers. It’s time for ministers to step up and deliver on Labour’s ambition for all children.

A spokesman for the Department for Education (DfE) said: “This government is delivering the biggest increase in funding for schools in a decade – £14billion in total over the three years to 2022-23. This includes a £7.1billion increase in school funding by 2022-23, compared to 2019-20 funding levels.

“Next year, funding through the National Schools Funding Formula (NFF) will increase by 2.8% per pupil compared to 2021-22. The NFF continues to distribute it equitably, based on the needs of schools and their student cohorts.