Private school fees in Scotland have rocketed by 20 per cent to £10,431 a year in the past five years, a report has claimed.
The increase, however, is the smallest percentage rise in the UK. School fees across the UK have grown by 21 per cent to almost £12,500, according to the study from Lloyds bank.
The figure is four times higher than the average increase in earnings over the same period, as wages have failed to keep price with the fee inflation.
Experts said the increase, which has taken UK school fees to 37 per cent of average earnings, is pricing more families out of the private school market. The fees-to-earnings ratio stood at 32 per cent five years ago.
Sarah Deaves, private banking director at Lloyds, said: “Private school fees have increased to almost £12,500 a year, which is four times more than the rise in average earnings over the past five years.
“It is, therefore, becoming increasingly vital that parents plan ahead as early as possible, to ensure they secure the future they desire for their children.”
UK-wide, the total number of day pupils attending private schools has declined slightly, by 1 per cent, over the past five years, while the number of senior school pupils aged 11 to 18 has also fallen, by 3 per cent.
However, the number of children in fee-paying nursery schools has risen by 8 per cent, day pupils in junior schools have grown by 1 per cent and day pupils in sixth forms by 4 per cent.
A total of 27,705 pupils in Scotland attended a day private school in 2013, according to the Scottish Council of Independent Schools (SCIS), while a further 3,441 are boarders.
About one in 20 children in Scotland is educated at private schools, although the figure in Edinburgh is closer to one in four.
John Edward, director of SCIS, claimed that schools needed to increase their fees to keep pace with inflation. The cost of fuel and utility bills have seen particularly high increases in recent years.
Inflation last month stood at 1.6 per cent, by the Consumer Price Index measure, according to government figures.
“Independent schools in Scotland are completely autonomous with no outside help or finance,” said Mr Edward. “They strive to do their upmost to deliver the best for their children in a climate where fixed costs like pensions and utilities are going up all the time.”
In 2014, the number of UK pupils receiving a financial contribution towards the payment of their school fees reached 166,268, totalling 33.4 per cent of all pupils, according to the report – up slightly from 33 per cent in 2009.
The average value of school-funded fees this year is £4,867.
London saw the biggest increase in fees at 26 per cent, while the value of typical fees charged at schools in the south-east of England and Wales both grew 24 per cent.
The lowest average increases in annual fees after Scotland were in the West Midlands, East Midlands and East Anglia, which all experienced rises of 21 per cent.