Revealed: 50% of British parents would not send their kids to private school – even if they didn’t have to pay fees

Half the nation’s parents still would not send their children to a private school even if they did not have to pay for it, according to a survey published today.

The survey of 2,210 parents, carried out by YouGov, revealed 50 per cent would still want their child to go to a state school.

Three out of five who wanted to remain with the state sector wanted to do so because they thought it was important for their child to mix with other pupils from all walks of life. In the case of 38 per cent, it was because they themselves had been happy to go to one. A total of 37 per cent said they felt it was the duty of the Government to provide good quality education for all the nation’s children.

A breakdown of the figures showed that parents in Scotland and Wales were most likely to remain with the state sector – 62 per cent in both cases.

Least likely to send their children to state schools were parents in London – where just 35 per cent were prepared to stay with state schools despite the fact that the area recorded the biggest improvement in state school performance in the entire country.

The survey asked parents whether they would be likely to send their children to private schools if fees were removed from the equation – and 32 per cent said they would compared to just under 10 per cent who actually d so despite an average cost estimated at £15,000 a year.

Of those who would send their children to private schools if money was no object. 81 per cent said they felt private schools offered the opportunity of a better education, 54 per cent said they had better teachers and 52 per cent said they offered their pupils better networking opportunities later on in life – the “old boys’ network”. In addition, 17 per cent said they would opt for the private sector because they thought there was less chance of their child being bullied at school.

Of those who do send their children to private schools, 24 per cent said they were able to afford it because their child had been offered a bursary or a scholarship.  Private schools have increased the amount of aid they offer less well-off parents in the wake of the demise of the former Conservative Government’s assisted places scheme under Labour.

A further 24 per cent acknowledged they could only afford the fees as a result of grandparents chipping in with the cost. The £15,000 average fee for private schools cited by the parents in the survey included a sum for extra-curricular activities (school trips) and uniforms. In addition, 17 per cent said they had been saving for years to meet the cost and 10 per cent said they had cashed in part of their pension schemes to help pay.

Richard Boyd, of  Duncan Lawrie private bank – which funded the survey, said: “The average price of sending a child to private school has seen a real term rise of almost 65 per cent since the early 90’s and – while many children might be lucky enough to benefit from scholarships and bursaries – there are still many parents having to pay significant amounts of money to keep their child in private school.”

The survey showed 46 per cent of those with children in private schools would be prepared to cut down on holidays to keep their children in the school and 21 per cent would downsize their home.

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Wake-up call over religious education

A damning report by MPs on standards of Religious Education teaching in schools should be a “wake-up call” to Michael Gove, the Church of England has warned.

An inquiry by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on RE found that more than half of those teaching it in primary schools have no qualifications in the subject.

In at least a quarter of cases it is relegated to teaching assistants who often receive little support, training or guidance, the MPs said.

They also found that there had been a “dramatic” reduction in support for RE teachers as a result of local funding cuts and the Government’s academies programme.

And the removal of bursaries for students training to teach RE has led to a “radical” drop in applicants, the committee added.

They concluded that this risks allowing a generation of young people to grow up in ignorance about religion at a time when Britain is more diverse than ever before.

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