ISC CEO responds to reports of rising independent school boarding fees

Posted on: 09 Aug 2023
Posted by: Julie Robinson

Julie Robinson, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council (ISC), was interviewed by Ben Kentish on LBC today on the increasing cost of independent school boarding fees.

Speaking to Mr Kentish, Ms Robinson explained that independent schools are not immune to the rising costs facing everyone at the moment, with food, energy, staffing and pension prices all going up.

The interview was prompted by an article in The Telegraph, which suggested boarding fees at some independent schools could rise to more than £50,000 a year for the first time. Ms Robinson explained that the schools referenced are not representative of the average independent school, adding "on average the cost of the boarding element of schooling in independent schools is commensurate with the boarding element in state boarding schools".

Asked whether boarding schools can justify the fees they charge, Ms Robinson spoke of the "broad package" families receive, including round-the-clock pastoral care: "I worked in a boarding school myself and we were really mindful of being the parent in absence for those children, so there were lots of safeguarding, risk assessment and health and safety issues to be taken into account so that we could provide a home from home."

Later in the interview, Mr Kentish talked about Labour's plans to add VAT to school fees, and the impact this would have on families in the sector, to which Ms Robinson said: "This will be a worry for some families and it is a shame the policy is taxing parents' fees and their choice." Ms Robinson also explained the difference between tax law and charity law, and emphasised the importance of education continuing to be free of tax. Concluding the interview, Ms Robinson highlighted the ways in which independent schools support their wider communities through public benefit activities and bursary provision, adding that a third of pupils at independent schools receive some form of fee assistance.

2023_08_09 Ben Kentish