Scottish private schools to hike fees as tax relief set to end

Parents whose children attend private schools are facing significant increases in fees, in part due to plans to end business rates relief for the sector.

Fettes is set to increase its fees by 5.3 per cent next year, higher than the average hike among private schools. Picture: TSPL

The average private school is expected to hike its fee by more than £500 for the next school year, an increase of 3.9 per cent.

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An analysis of the pending fees, compiled by the Times newspaper, shows that Fettes, the country’s most expensive private school, is putting up its fees by 5.3 per cent. It means parents of a senior day school pupil will pay £28,200 in 2018-19 compared to £26,790 in 2017-18.

Some private schools are imposing even steeper increases. St Aloysius’ College in Glasgow is upping fees by 8 per cent to £12,825.

It emerged last year that the Scottish Government plans to end charitable tax relief on private schools, which educate nearly 30,000 children across Scotland. As of 2020, the schools will lose the 80 per cent reduction offered to other charities.

John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said the rising fees were being driven by pay rises for teachers and pension obligations, among other factors.

He said: “Schools are commited to means-tested fee assistance for pupils, often for up to six years at a time, as part of the public benefit test.

“If, despite that, business rates are to be increased fivefold – the only educational bodies across the UK to experience this – it would be no surprise if medium-term budgets have to reflect that too.”

Whereas the average fee stood at less than £11,500 in 2010, it is now around £15,000.

The fees identified in the analysis are for day school senior pupils; those youngsgters who board are charged even more.

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said schools were able to prepare for the imposition of business rates.

He said: “Scottish ministers recognise that, although small, the independent sector is a well-established part of the Scottish education system that promotes choice for parents. We will continue to engage with the sector as well finalise the detail of our proposals, subject to which we intend to bring forward primary legislation to deliver this change by 2020.”