The number of children being educated in ISC schools has fallen for the first time in ten years, according to the ISC annual census, The Times reports.
The Independent Schools Council (ISC) census for 2021 said that last year was the “most difficult period for schools since the Second World War”.
The census finds that there were 5,000, or 1.3 per cent, fewer children being privately educated this January than the previous year, the first drop since 2011.
The number of boarders fell by 9,000, or 12 per cent. The number of overseas boarders decreased by 17 per cent, from 29,000 to 24,000.
Numbers of boarders were down across all countries that send the largest cohorts to Britain, apart from Hong Kong.
The report noted a significant fall in pupils from China and a “downward trend” in pupils from European countries.
The fall in numbers comes as fees increased by just 1.1 per cent in the past year, compared with 4.1 per cent the year before. More than 800 of the 1,300 schools that responded to the survey had frozen or reduced their fees.
Julie Robinson, chief executive of the ISC, said in the foreword to the census: “The period between the last ISC census and this was possibly the most difficult for schools in the UK since the Second World War…Pupil numbers did not significantly decline, contrary to some predictions, though there was inevitably a fall in the number of boarders. Unfortunately, many partnership projects had to be put on hold because of Covid restrictions, but many adapted and hundreds of ISC schools contributed to food banks and PPE supply.”