Friday, July 03, 2009

Private schools in the recession: Staying On Board

In both America and Britain recession has so far done little to dent the demand for private education
Jul 2nd 2009
The Economist

Past experience bears out the resilience of private schools in hard times. It has taken several years for previous recessions to affect demand. Eventually, some whose confidence has been bruised by recession decide not to buy in at all. Some, but not many. Britain’s most recent recession, in 1991-92, dented total enrolments in ISC schools by only 2.4%. The trough did not come until 1996, by which time the recession was a distant memory, and numbers recovered soon after. The most famous and expensive institutions rode out the bad times best. The 250 confusingly named “public” schools in the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference saw rolls fall only in one year, and by a mere 0.5%.

Palaces of learning
No one knows how many children are privately educated worldwide: many private schools are invisible to officialdom; some are in slums. James Tooley, a professor of education at Newcastle University, has found many children at fee-charging schools in Africa, China and Latin America. The elite institutions of popular imagination are far from representative of private education more generally.

Yet in a few places such schools exert an influence out of all proportion to their share of pupils. In Britain only 7% of children are educated privately at any one time. Yet according to the Sutton Trust, an education charity, two-thirds of leading judges and barristers, half of well-known journalists, the chief executives of half the companies in the FTSE 100 index and a third of MPs attended private schools. the rest image


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