Memorandum submitted by Francis Green,
Professor of Economics, University of Kent
Independent schools have transformed
themselves since the 1960s to become academic powerhouses as well
as providing a broad education. They unequivocally boost the academic
qualifications of most pupils.
To make this transformation independent
schools have injected enormously increased resources. Their pupil-teacher
ratio has fallen year-on-year, and is now little more than half
what it is in the state sector.
On average, those receiving a private
education during the 1980s now gain between 16% and 19% higher
pay than their counterparts with similar ability and family background.
They also benefited from superior non-academic resources at schools
(playing fields etc).
The benefits of private education
for today's pupils are expected to be higher because there is
a greater demand for highly-educated people, and because the facilities
and staffing ratios have been much improved.
Retirements and school improvements
have entailed demands for more teachers: approximately, a flow
of 18,049 new full-time teachers have been recruited from outside
the independent sector since 2000.
The majority of this flow (58%) has
been experienced teachers from state schools, the rest newly trained
teachers and graduates. Compared to the overall numbers of newly
qualified teachers, the transfers amount to approximately 7% of
the state's investment.
Since 1980 they have funded these
changes by continually raising their fees; now nearly three times
as high in real terms. Boarding: £22,059 per annum, Day fee:
£9,579. These high fees limit access to the well-off except
where sufficient bursaries can be made available; but the extent
of their impact on social mobility is under-researched.
9% of schools; 7½% of pupils;
around 14% of teachers.
Pupil-teacher ratio is 9.6, a little
more than half what it is in the state sector ( 18).
Much variation of quality and cost
in the sector.
Evidence that private school attendance
substantially raises the highest qualification level achieved.
Private schools also have higher value-added.
A caveat: once at university,
early 1990s private school-educated students do less well. They
are 9 percentage points less likely than state-educated students
with similar A-levels to get a good degree (at least upper second
Private school students from the
1980s are now earning around 16% to 19% more, on average, than
their state-school counterparts, after allowing for differences
in family background and for cognitive and non-cognitive abilities
at age 5.
On average, all this premium can
be accounted for by the better qualifications achieved.
However, among the students who would
later become more successful, going to a private school gave an
extra premium, beyond what can be explained by the qualifications
obtained. We think that this is because the more able students
will have been selected for the better (more expensive) private
schools, and will have gained more of the broad, non-academic
advantages that these offer; but this is not yet proved.
Since the 1980s the demand for highly-educated
workers has risen, and the fees have nearly trebled. One can therefore
tentatively forecast that today's private school pupils will benefit
from a higher premium than those at school two or more decades
Large and increasing funds spent
on non-academic equipment: swimming pools, playing fields, etc.
Comment: the evidence is quite conclusive that
independent schools do provide a substantial return for their
money. Their consequent impact on social mobility, however, is
questionable, given the high fees which must exclude low-income
households unless they have access to bursaries; but this issue
needs further research.
In theory, independents schools can have either
positive or negative effects on the maintained sector.
Competition and emulation could improve
standards. Virtually no formal evidence about this, one way or
Sharing of facilities for public
benefit. (It is for the Charities Commission to determine the
extent of this).
Competition for teaching staff intensifies with
rising demands for teachers as the independent sector lowers its
pupil-teacher ratio. The facts, computed from the ISC Census,
Since 2000 2,608 extra teachers have
been added in ISC-member independent schools from outside that
Together with retirements, this has
meant the need for ISC schools to recruit 18,049 full-time teachers
from outside the independent sector.
This has been achieved by recruiting
(net, allowing for contra-flows) 10,508 (58%) experienced teachers
from state-maintained schools, and 7,541 teachers (42%) from universities
and initial teacher training colleges.
In this sense, the state has "lost"
since 2000 roughly 2,250 teachers per year, as they either opted
out of maintained schools in the first place or subsequently transferred
to the independent sector. Compared to the overall stock of teachers,
these flows are relatively small. However, compared to the flow
of newly qualified teachers (eg 33,190 in 2006) the transfers
amount to about 7%. Of course, this "loss" is not an
overall reduction of teachers available to society, since it is
balanced by an increase in resources for independent schools.
Rather, the level of the transfer is one indication of the state's
support for the independent sector, partly offset by the fact
that the state is relieved of the need to provide teachers for
pupils who choose private education.
Negative effects could also come from loss of
peer effects from able pupils, but there is little or no formal
evidence about how important this is.
Other evidence of Independent/State school teacher
Microdata sources reveal that:
Independent school teachers are more
likely than state school teachers to possess a post-graduate qualification,
and to be trained in a shortage subject (Maths, Science or Engineering).
Teachers in independent schools express
greater job satisfaction with the intrinsic features of their
job, and generally experience preferable working conditions.
Among men there are no very substantial
differences in pay between independent and state school teachers;
but women appear to experience a pay penalty for working in the
Teachers in shortage subjects receive
a pay premium in the private schools, but not in the maintained
Research on this topic has been funded by a
grant from the Nuffield Foundation to the University of Kent and
the Centre for Economics of Education at the LSE. A brief summary
and papers can be accessed from my web page at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/economics/staff/gfg/currres.html