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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:46 am 
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I read this article on The Sunday Times today, which seems to indicate the worry that the independent schools now rely on wealthy parents overseas. According to Andrew Halls, the head of King’s College School in Wimbledon, this system is not sustainable.

Below are some extracts:

http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/new ... 487310.ece

" FEE-PAYING schools have become so expensive that lawyers, doctors and teachers can no longer afford to educate their children privately, with some becoming little more than “finishing schools for the children of oligarchs”, according to a headmaster at one of the country’s top independent schools.

Andrew Halls, the head of King’s College School in Wimbledon, southwest London, where fees for a day pupil cost £20,000 a year, said some private schools had become so reliant on pupils from overseas that they were at risk of a banking-style crash. The wealth of such families had pushed fees to stratospheric levels.

“We have allowed the apparently endless queue of wealthy families from across the world knocking at our doors to blind us to a simple truth: we charge too much,” said Halls, whose school is today named as The Sunday Times independent school of the year.

“The most prestigious schools in the world teach the children of the very wealthiest families in the world. A typical boarding school now requires a parent to have a spare £30,000 in taxed income to pay for just one child — every year.

“We are in danger of coming across as greedy, because we can charge what appears to be limitless fees but in truth there is a fees timebomb ticking away. It feels like the build-up to the banking crisis. For the first time in my career, I feel that the shifts over the next 10 years could prove seismic.”

Fees in private schools have risen nearly twice as fast as inflation in the past 10 years and quadrupled in the past 20, said Halls, who warned the increases were unsustainable and that soon the system would collapse as the supply of overseas families dried up or turned to schools being built in their own countries.

In addition, state schools are improving so rapidly because more Oxbridge graduates are becoming teachers, warned Halls, that British families who might have scrimped and saved to send their child to a private school were opting for academies or grammar schools instead.

“In the past few years about 50 private schools have already closed, merged, or turned into state schools. That number will only rise,” he warned.

“If independent schools don’t read the writing on the wall, they will surely perish, one by one. Of course, I realise that my own school must look to itself as well.""

Do you think the current fee system will be unsustainable and may collapse soon? By 'collapse', I mean the UK independent schools will have to reduce their fees so that more people in the UK can afford them?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 8:48 am 
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I wonder why he thinks Oxbridge graduates in particular make good teachers?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 9:20 am 
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I am sure that this is the case for boarding schools - each school is probably competing with many others for each child, after all if they board they can go anywhere in the country

Quite a few boarding schools do have huge numbers of overseas students and are clearly heavily dependent on the income from them with heads going on tours to the far east and other places to meet prospective parents.

The day schools (outside London) are more aware of the affordability of education, there aren't many money trees around and if they overdo the fees then they will get fewer people applying.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 9:32 am 
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Location: West Essex
My first thought is, it's the cost of living that's driving private school fees. Most of the buildings and land have been owned for a long time. Of course there is upkeep on the physical plant. And, of course, there is pressure to update and upgrade that physical plant. BUT, the big driver is teacher salaries. The teachers have to be able to live near the schools. They have to eat, have a place to live, etc. As long as the cost of living is rocketing, mostly through the cost of housing, private school fees will rise.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 10:04 am 
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I agree HCB, one of the biggest rises I saw in fees was when some National Insurance change occurred! - also pension contributions are higher

Having said that a local school is shutting because the numbers of kids have dropped to crucial level - the fess were always higher there suposedly because of the eyewatering cost of keeping up the listed buildings and parkland. They tried to sell some of the land for housing but it was all too late.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:23 am 
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scary mum wrote:
I wonder why he thinks Oxbridge graduates in particular make good teachers?
Quite. And I also wonder where the supporting evidence for this extraordinary statement comes from.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:38 am 
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While I agree that Oxford and Cambridge certainly don't have the only clever graduates, I think it's a little disingenuous to pretend that the students there are nothing special. I think it is fair to presume that they are both able and well taught in their subjects. A lot of reasonable people would deduce that knowing one's subject well and being highly intelligent would be strong indicators that one could become a very effective teacher.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:44 am 
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hermanmunster wrote:
I am sure that this is the case for boarding schools - each school is probably competing with many others for each child, after all if they board they can go anywhere in the country

Quite a few boarding schools do have huge numbers of overseas students and are clearly heavily dependent on the income from them with heads going on tours to the far east and other places to meet prospective parents.

The day schools (outside London) are more aware of the affordability of education, there aren't many money trees around and if they overdo the fees then they will get fewer people applying.


I agree with this. I do think though that in this as everything else there is a big rich/"poor" divide. Poor in inverted commas because no one with a child at an indie, even if helped with fees (as we are, with scholarship), can be considered 'poor' of course.

But anyway, the top tier boarding schools, I take an example, my dad's old school, Bryanston (not so prestigious when he was there), is £33,000 per year. No day boys as day goes on tyo 9pm. There appears to be no shortage of pupils here, and plenty from domestic customers, overseas is perhaps 10%. I think for this sort of school, and your Uppinghams etc there is plenty of money from this country and plenty of demand for places.

I also think that the kind of indie one of our boys is in are (hopefully) doing OK too. Provincial so not eye watering fixed costs vs city schools, they are keen to get people in so fees are reasonable and there are bursaries too, so many won't pay full cost. Judging by the car park where the Rolls, Range Rovers and Mercs are totally outnumbered by the 02 plate Nissans and ordinary Citroens, these schools are doing ok from a more ordinary population. It does not try to be prestigious but provides a wonderful academic and nurturing environment and inspires a great deal of loyalty and a reputation for NOT being money grabbing.

Assume the schools that really struggle are those that are not prestigious, don't inspire loyalty, are relatively inflexible in their fee demands, have very high fixed overheads and therefore the market they are appealing too is not the bankers and the huge wealth, who want prestigious and can afford to pay for it, but neither the solicitors and the 'struggle to find it but do it' professionals as they are too £££, so miss out altogether and flounder as a result.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:46 am 
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HotCrossBun wrote:
While I agree that Oxford and Cambridge certainly don't have the only clever graduates, I think it's a little disingenuous to pretend that the students there are nothing special. I think it is fair to presume that they are both able and well taught in their subjects. A lot of reasonable people would deduce that knowing one's subject well and being highly intelligent would be strong indicators that one could become a very effective teacher.


Do you really think that the extra qudos of an Oxbridge degree has anything to do with it being better than, say, a good Russell Group degree, in anything but prestige? I can't spell qudos, but you know what I mean!!!


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2014 11:51 am 
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The best teachers I have worked with are those that understand how to 'unpick' childrens misconceptions and problems with maths. You do need good subject knowledge but also an understanding of pedagogy to enable knowledge to be shared effecively.
The worst have often been those who have sailed through education without ever finding the subject difficult and therefore don't understand why children don't understand. They usually have one way of explaining a topic and when that fails they don't have any strategies to help.


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