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Sector Info

Independent schools provide excellence, capacity, and innovation in our education system.

Parents will choose independent schools for some or all of their child’s education, sometimes to meet particular needs – for example, independent schools that specialise in supporting children who have special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

There is not a single-type of independent school. The ISC represents over 1,300 schools with real diversity of provision. ISC schools vary significantly in size from having fewer than 50 pupils to over 2,400, although half of all schools have fewer than 300 pupils. Half of schools are non-selective and many are not for-profit. Over 15% of pupils at ISC schools have SEND.

Independent schools provide:

Educational excellence

Particularly in STEM subjects that are crucial to future productivity; and languages post-Brexit.

Innovation

Recent reforms of GCSEs and A-levels were based on qualifications taken at independent schools including IGCSEs and the Pre-U, and many of the structures and traditions of the independent sector have been adopted by state schools to improve pupils’ education.

Economic value

Independent schools contribute £13.7bn annually to GDP, support 303,000 jobs and £4.1bn in tax revenue.

Taxpayer savings

Independent schools save the state sector £3.5bn per year through parents (who pay taxes to support state education) not taking up state school places.

Overseas value

The sector contributes £930m annually to education exports, is respected across the world and is attractive to overseas companies re-locating families to the UK. The Government’s International education strategy wants to increase number of overseas students – ISC schools attract 55,000 non-British pupils and are a pipeline to higher education for international pupils.

Partnerships

Our latest Census shows 84% of ISC member schools already have partnerships with their state counterparts – equating to almost 11,500 partnership projects including supporting pupils with university applications, careers advice and providing teaching in shortage subjects such as Modern Foreign Languages.

Bursaries

The ISC Census 2019 shows schools currently provide £422m in means tested bursaries and scholarships – a 6% increase on last year.

Specialist provision

The sector provides specialist provision in music and dance, single-sex schools, boarding and SEND support.

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