THE BLOG

Survey Confirms Healthy Appetite for Private Schooling Despite Recession

16/05/2013 15:20 BST | Updated 16/07/2013 10:12 BST

With the economy continuing to put the squeeze on family finances, it wouldn't be totally unexpected to see a fall in the number of parents opting to send their child to a private school.

But as I have highlighted in a previous blog, many families are still finding plenty of good reasons to make the decision to invest in their child's education by sending them to a fee-paying school, regardless of economic unpredictability.

And this seems to have been backed up by the findings of a recent survey of independent school staff. The results revealed that a healthy eighty-seven per cent of staff reported that their schools had either increased or maintained pupil numbers in 2012/13.

This suggests that despite the double dip recession, fee-paying schools are successfully riding the economic storm and many parents continue to regard an independent education as a priority for their child's future.

There is little doubt that the economic climate has made it more of a challenge for some fee-paying schools to attract students through their doors. But the survey also showed that it hasn't necessarily been business as usual in many schools. Of the 149 responses received, 42% of staff reported that their schools were reviewing their marketing activity and 21% had made adjustments to their curriculum in the run up to the start of the new academic year.

What's more, 18% said their schools had increased the number of extra-curricular opportunities on offer and 16% said they had engaged in more overseas recruitment.

Like any successful business, independent schools need to understand and deliver what their customers - fee-paying parents - want in order to stay ahead in the education marketplace. The survey results appear to substantiate that with advanced strategic planning many schools are successfully achieving this.

Confidence in the market appears to be growing among independent schools too. It was interesting to see that 64 per cent of those asked were not at all concerned about competition from free schools. This is an increase on responses received to the same question last year, where just 60 per cent of staff stated that they were not overly concerned about having to compete with free schools to attract pupils.

Another area explored in the survey was the view that those who work in private schools every day had of the changing attitudes towards independent education. The results revealed that more than nine out of 10 respondents thought the public's perception of independent schools had either remained steady or improved in the last 3 years. This is great news for all those who dedicate their time and expertise to delivering the highest quality teaching and learning in fee-paying schools.

The survey results show that the big decisions being made in many independent schools are helping to buffer them against competition from other schools. And although the economic tides continue to turn, the appetite for British independent education remains strong. In these challenging financial times, it seems that many fee-paying schools are still keen to demonstrate their determination and commitment to securing a bright future for the sector.