Independent schools’ £73 billion contribution to the UK

Were it not for independent schools, UK GDP could have been £73 billion lower last year – according to new research revealing the independent education sector’s value to the national economy.

In a report entitled ‘The Impact of Independent Schools on the UK Economy’, a team of analysts at Oxford Economics also established that, in 2017 alone, independent schools (including those not within Independent Schools Council membership) contributed £13.7 billion to the economy, generating £4.1 billion of annual tax revenues and supporting 303,000 jobs, which is more than the total number of jobs across Liverpool.

In addition, the report found that independent schools save the taxpayer £3.5 billion every year by providing places for pupils who could otherwise be expected to take up a place in the state-funded sector. This is enough to build more than 20,000 affordable homes.

Commenting on the findings, ISC chairman Barnaby Lenon said: “While it is widely understood that independent schools provide a high quality, well-rounded education, it is hugely important to also acknowledge the significant contribution they make to the UK economy.

“The total tax impact of ISC schools on its own last year would have been sufficient to fund the annual employment of 108,000 nurses on average full-time pay.”

Key findings from the Oxford Economics report include:

  • In 2017, schools that are members of the ISC’s constituent associations saved the taxpayer £3 billion as a result of pupils not taking up a place at a state maintained school, which is equivalent to 3.5% of total state spending on education in England, Scotland and Wales in that year.
  • Had all independent fee-charging schools ceased to exist in the late 1940s, then UK GDP would have been £73 billion lower in 2017—a shortfall of 3.6%.
  • The 1,300-plus schools represented by the ISC’s associations contributed £11.6 billion to the UK economy in 2017, generating £3.5 billion of annual tax revenues (equivalent to £129 per UK household) and supporting 257,000 jobs.
  • Of the £11.6 billion ISC schools contributed to the economy, non-British pupils at ISC schools supported around £1.8 billion of gross value added in the UK, supporting 39,310 jobs and generating £550 million in annual tax revenues.
  • Independent schools also support economic growth by promoting subjects that are strategically important for the UK’s skills base.

Mr Lenon continued: “This report reveals what many might consider the hidden values of independent schools. Not only does it clearly detail the sector’s economic contributions in financial terms, it tells us a wealth of other noteworthy information of which people should be aware.

“For example, we can see for every four jobs in our schools, a further three are supported elsewhere in the UK; the provision of a first class education by UK-based schools to international pupils can make a significant contribution to the UK’s ‘soft power’ in the international relations field; ISC schools promote a bias towards science, mathematics and other subjects demanded by employers.”

‘The Impact of Independent Schools on the UK Economy’ was produced by Oxford Economics, a leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis. The research was commissioned by the ISC, and is supported by RSAcademics, a specialist leadership and strategy consultancy for schools. The report will be available to read in full on Wednesday 3 October at www.isc.co.uk•

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