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Number of privately educated pupils on the rise in Wales

08 Jun 2022 3 minute read
Students in a lesson at school. Picture by Ben Birchall / PA Wire.

The number of pupils who are privately educated has risen to a near record high in Wales, according to new figures.

Wales saw the second biggest rise in pupil numbers at private schools, at 3%. That was second only to the South West of England at a 3.6%.

However, the jump came after Wales saw the largest fall, of 3.3%, in numbers in 2021.

In total, 7,387 pupils from Wales went to a private school.

The census by the Independent Schools Council (ISC) for January 2022 for the whole of the UK found there are now a record 544,316 pupils at 1,388 ISC member schools, a 2% rise on the 2020 figures.

Monmouth had the highest percentage of privately educated pupils in Wales, at over 12%. Five Welsh counties, meanwhile, had no privately educated pupils picked up by the annual census.

In total, Wales has 19 private schools with 7,432 pupils between them. 25% of those students were from a minority ethnic background. The average boarding school cost £12,664 a year and day school £4,294.


Across the UK, the ISC said fee assistance had increased to nearly £1.2 billion, a rise of 4.8%.

However, just £480 million was provided on a means-tested basis, meaning most bursaries are not being awarded on the basis of family income, with just 6,000 pupils given full fee assistance.

The average worth of a means-tested bursary was £10,840 per annum, an increase of 5.9% compared with 2021. The ISC said its schools were also continuing to control fee increases, with an annual average rise of 3%.

ISC chairman Barnaby Lenon said: “Reassuringly, we have once again seen a rise in fee assistance provision, with the amount for means-tested fee assistance rising to a total of £480 million.”

He added that while partnership work between state and private schools had been disrupted during the pandemic, the census “tells us that more and more schools have been able to resume their joint working as restrictions and absence rates have become less pronounced”.

The data showed a slight decrease in the number of privately-educated pupils getting into Oxford or Cambridge, with 4.3% going to Oxbridge from the sector in 2022 compared with 5.3% the previous year. Cardiff took 1.8% of the UK’s privately educated students.

Other universities in the Russell Group such as Exeter, Durham, Bristol, University College London and Nottingham also took fewer privately-educated pupils than the year before, according to the census.

In total, 5% of school leavers from the sector opted for a university overseas in 2022, with the USA the most popular destination.

The data also shows a slight rise in the number of all-girls’ schools, with 136 schools now exclusively for female pupils – up from 131.

Ninety-eight are all-boys’ schools, down from 102 the previous year.

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1 year ago

The number of young people who reside in the old Clwyd/ now educated in Wirral and Cheshire is growing fast. The A55 access and cheaper houses in Flintshire and Denbighshire plus Wrexham has seen buses 🚌 heading for the border in large numbers. Fleeing from Welsh education or the language – as the usual trolls say ? No it’s just the way things are – increased mobility in jobs and many the offsprings of local Authority officials plus some ‘ very good ‘ grammar schools in Wirral etc…. Plus many who would have gone to northern Wales independent schools have… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by Richard
Barry Pandy
Barry Pandy
1 year ago

Why don’t we stop pretending that these schools are ‘charities’ and just tax them as the businesses they really are.

Oops we can’t do that, it would affect the tories.

1 year ago

These figures are high for a small country with substantially less wealth than other Western European countries, and the percentage for ethnic minorities is way out of kilter with their percentage as a component of the Welsh population. Since ethnicity was referenced in the report, it would be interesting to know the background of the other 75%.
Although high, the figures don’t surprise me, since this ‘flight from the compulsory teaching of Welsh’ was always on the cards after Welsh border villages came to be earmarked as commuter villages for Cheshire and Bristol.

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