The Oxford Economics report, The Impact of Independent Schools on the UK Economy, prepared and commissioned by the Independent Schools Council (ISC), has revealed that, in 2017, ISC schools directly contributed £6.05 billion to UK GDP. An analysis of the report has shown that their impact is heavily weighted to the South East and London
This sector supported 147,000 jobs and generated £1.59 billion in tax revenues. In fact, £3.52 billion is the minimum amount that independent schools save British taxpayers each year; this is equivalent to £129 per UK household.
Interested in the value of the independent education sector, theknowledgeacademy.com analysed the report to discover the impact of the independent schools sector by region. The study covers the impact of 1,317 ISC schools across the UK.
The first observation was that the highest concentration of ISC schools can be found in the South East (397), London (236), East of England (164) and the South West, where there are 140 independent schools that are members of ISC associations. By comparison, the lowest concentration of ISC schools is found in Northern Ireland (10), the North East (16) and in Wales, with just 20 independent schools which are members of ISC associations.
This concentration of ISC schools reflects the numeric value of the gross value added (GVA) for each region – a measure of value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy.
The 397 ISC schools situated in the South East have a direct GVA impact of £1,919 million per annum – miles ahead of every other region. The next highest direct GVA impact is seen in London, with a total £1,089 million per annum. This is followed by £723 million per annum in the East of England and £613 million per annum in the South West.
A further example of the impact’s weighting to the South East is the share of total regional economic output, ISC schools’ value added. It’s highest in the South East, at 0.79%, and above the national average (0.37%) in the East of England and South West, at 0.50% apiece. In the capital, this share is below the national average, at 0.29%, most likely due to the significant contribution to total economic activity made by financial and professional services in that region.
The 16 ISC schools situated in the North East have a direct GVA impact of £59 million per annum, the lowest direct GVA impact total. The next lowest direct GVA impact is in Northern Ireland, with a total £64 million per annum, followed by £87 million per annum in Wales.
As a share of total regional economic output, ISC schools’ value added is lowest in the North East at 0.12%, followed by Wales and Northern Ireland, at 0.15% and 0.17% respectively.
What is clear from this report is that independent schools have a positive economic impact, but that it’s limited to their location. Unfortunately, there appears to be a lack of cross-regional benefit, meaning that areas such as the North East, Northern Ireland and Wales will have to wait for additional schools to be established before they feel the same economic benefit.