2007 July 28 Saturday
Private Schooling Too Expensive For British Middle Class

Private school tuition is rising up out of reach of the British middle class.

Private school fees have soared by 41% since 2002 - at more than twice the rate of inflation, effectively pricing more parents out of privately educating their children, research showed today.

Figures showing the rising cost of private tuition came as leftwing thinktank the Fabian Society, chaired by the secretary of state for children, schools and families Ed Balls, suggested the government introduce a tax on private school fees to halt the exodus from state education.

Are the Fabian socialists oblivious to the trend which is already putting private education out of the range of an overwhelming majority of the British population and even of much of the middle class? Or are they incensed that the upper class can still afford to send their kids to private schooling even as private schooling rises above the reach of the middle class?

What can drive such a big increase in prices? Higher demand or higher costs? Also, what's driving the rising demand? Perceived greater return on educational investment? Need to get one's kids away from immigrant kids who are ruining the local school? Other?

In 2007, the average annual cost of sending a child to private day school was 9,627, compared with 6,820 in 2002, according to research by Britain's largest mortgage lender Halifax Financial Services.

That is nearly $20,000 at today's exchange rates. So put 20 kids into a classroom. Charge, say, $19,000. That's $380,000 for a classroom. How can it cost that much? Surely the teacher's seeing only a small fraction of that. How much do elementary school teachers make in Manchester or Liverpool or Cardiff?

A lengthening list of occupations do not pay well enough to make private schooling of children affordable.

Key public sector workers can no longer afford private education for their children. For teachers, average school fees for day pupils represent 28% of the average salary and 36% for nurses.

Only 13 occupations can now afford fees, compared with 23 in 2002, according to Halifax. Lecturers, scientists, engineers, journalists, writers, trading standards officers and computer programmers would now need help paying the fees they could afford in 2002.

The article says private school enrollment rose by 6% from 2001 to 2006. In the face of these higher prices that suggests a decline in middle class enrollment combined with a big increase in enrollment of children of high income parents.

Why didn't the enrollment rise more rapidly with less of a price rise? Are private school buildings already full? Does expansion really cost so much that high demand gets met with big price increases?

This article illustrates why I do not trust inflation indexes. If you looked at a market basket of goods and services bought by British engineers, scientists, first level managers and others who can't afford to send their kids to private school you wouldn't find private school as an expense for them. So the rise in private school costs wouldn't show up as inflation in their market basket.

Also, if the demand for private schooling comes as a result egalitarian educational policies that force dummies and smarties into the same classrooms then the quality of publicly provided service has declined and that doesn't show up in price indexes either.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 July 28 06:35 PM  Education

Bob Badour said at July 28, 2007 8:09 PM:
What can drive such a big increase in prices?

Two words: Harry Potter

Anonymous said at July 28, 2007 10:26 PM:

If you can't put your kids in a private school, then you have to put them in a public school where they get beaten up, or beguiled into the "chav" mentality as they call it in the UK ("wigger" in the USA). Better not to have kids at all in Western Civ. Why feed the Left more victims ?

dchamil said at July 29, 2007 7:58 AM:

I recommend the price of a first-class letter as a price index. While it may not reflect the average price level as well as some consumer price index, it has the great virtue that the government can't lie about what the price of a stamp was in a given year. A government price index also has the drawback that it is re-set to 100 every few years, so that the public does not become informed or alarmed at how much prices have gone up.

Wolf-Dog said at July 29, 2007 12:36 PM:

Although the tuition fees have increased dramatically, the TOTAL WEALTH of the upper 5 % to 10 % of the population has gone up so much more, that this successful group can easily afford to pay the tuition. Therefore these high tuition fees CAN be paid easily, even though the lower 90 % of the population can no longer afford these schools. Even if the tuition fees are doubled, the upper 5 % to 10 % can still pay.

Bob Badour said at July 31, 2007 6:42 AM:


What relevance does the top 5% or top 10% have to what the middle class can afford?

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