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Third of private school parents struggling with costs, survey shows

School pupil
School pupil - Peter Dazeley/Getty Images Contributor

Almost one in three parents who send their children to independent schools are struggling with the costs, research suggests.

The findings come with Labour set to impose VAT on private school fees if it wins the next election. If schools decide to increase fees as a result, annual fees of £15,000 could rise to £18,000.

In a survey by the charity Parentkind, parents named school trips, uniforms and materials for art, music and PE lessons as among expenses they were concerned about.

It found that the households of as many as 2.8 million children in both state and private schools could be struggling to afford the cost of their education.

Uniforms were among the most cited cost, with more than half of parents with children at state schools saying this was an expense they were particularly concerned about, along with a third of parents of private school pupils.

School trips were cited by 44 per cent of parents with children across the state and private sector.

‘This research makes unhappy reading’

Overall, one in four of more than 5,000 respondents to the National Parent Survey, conducted by YouGov, admitted to struggling with the everyday costs of sending their children to school. This rose to 50 per cent among respondents whose children were entitled to free school meals.

Julie Robinson, the chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, said: “This research makes unhappy reading but chimes with the findings of our own survey of independent school parents, showing they often make sacrifices in order to choose the school that is right for their child.

“We know that the cost of living crisis is hitting families hard and schools are doing what they can to ease the pressure on these families when it comes to school costs – which is why our schools have provided over £1bn in fee assistance in the last year alone.”

Many parents also told researchers they were pessimistic about the future, with just four in 10 saying their child would have a better standard of living than them and only 48 per cent believing they would have better career prospects.

Jason Elsom, the chief executive of the charity and a former teacher, said: “This survey is wake-up call to schools and politicians around the country. The cost of living crisis is hitting more and more families who used to have comfortable incomes but are now concerned about the cost of sending their children to school.”

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