Boarding School Facts & Figures

UK Independent Schools

In spite of being independent, such schools are still affected by wider social trends.  This extends to the boarders and their parents. However, with independence comes the freedom of flexibility and address the needs of individuals.

As a result, despite financial uncertainty, political flux and sustained press attention independent boarding schools are ranked among the world’s best with increased demand for places.

Over time, independent boarding schools have evolved to embrace a broader age range and diversity. 

Size and Diversity 

Schools are increasing in size.  The typical independent school today is 30% bigger than 25 years ago.
Independent schools have a larger percentage of ethnic minority students than state financed schools.

International growth in boarding schools

We find increasing internationalization on students as well as the universities they progress to.  UK independent schools are ranked according to the OECD (with South Korea and New Zealand as the best academic schools in the world and educating students to be internationally successful.

About 70% of pupils in UK independent schools are of white British origin with the remaining of minority ethnic origin.  A similar ratio applies to both boarding and non-boarding schools.

Over the last few years, the ration of pupils of minority ethnic background seems to be increasing. 

Overseas pupils

Internationally, British independent schools are perceived as of the highest quality. This is supported by the OECD international ranking.

Accounting for about 5% of the pupil body in UK independent, international students come predominantly from China and Hong Kong - approximately 40%, while Europe represents around 35%.

There has been a recent increase in students from Russia China and Nigeria – increasing by around 30%, 5% and 15% respectively.  Numbers of both Hong Kong and German students have fallen by around 5%.

In gender terms, overseas pupil numbers are broadly balanced.

In 2009, the UK Boarder agency began to require non EU pupils to obtain a Tier 4 visa. Since 2011, additional regulations require schools to have Highly Trusted Status (HTS) for issuing Tier 4 visas. The vast majority of independent schools now have HTS.

School Fees

School fees typically increase by about 5% per annum – recently, this has been less, reflecting recent financial austerity. A typical termly fee would be less than £5000 (without nursery costs). A typical boarding fee would be over £9000 while a day fee would be around £4000. 

Contribution to fees

Over 30% of UK independent pupils are in receipt of assistance for fees. This figure has recently risen slightly.
Nearly 90% of this help is from the schools.  On average schools give about double the amount of assistance via bursaries compared to scholarships. Means-tested bursaries are worth nearly £8000 per pupil per annum.   These are granted to nearly 10% of pupils at UK Independent schools.

Over 40% of pupils receiving means-tested bursaries have over 50% of fees paid for. About 2% of pupils get assistance. While the number of means-tested bursaries has risen in recent years -by about 20%, help via scholarships remains more constant.

Teaching staff

About 40% of teaching staff are male with a corresponding figure of around 25% in the state sector.  A pupil-teacher ratio of about 9:1 contrasts with around 18:1 in the state sector for 2011. 

Size of Schools

The size of UK independent schools are varies from some with less than 50 pupils to others with almost 2000.   The average school has around 420 pupils.  Over the last 20 years, there as has been a tendency for schools to grow their pupil numbers.


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