The impact of independent schools on the UK economy

The Independent Schools Council (ISC) represents over 1,300 schools in the United Kingdom’s independent education sector. Per the report The Impact of Independent Schools on the UK Economy’, prepared by Oxford Economics and commissioned by the Independent Schools Council, in 2017, ISC schools directly contributed £6.05bn to UK GDP.

This supported 147,000 jobs and generated £1.59bn in tax revenues. In fact, £3.52bn is the minimum amount that independent schools save British taxpayers each year. This is equivalent to £129 per UK household.

theknowledgeacademy.com analysed the ‘impact of independent schools’ report in detail to discover the direct economic impact* of independent schools by country and region. The study covers the impact of 1,317 ISC schools** located in the UK.

Firstly, it is clear 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. Comparably, the fewest concentration of ISC schools can be found in Northern Ireland (10), the North East (16) and in Wales, with 20 independent schools that are members of ISC associations.

Unsurprisingly, the concentration of ISC schools reflects the numeric value of the direct GVA impact of each region. What is meant by GVA? Gross value added (GVA) is the 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 £1,919m per annum. Yards ahead of every other country and region. The next highest direct GVA impact resides in London with a total £1,089m per annum. This is followed by £723m per annum in the East of England and £613m per annum in the South West.

As a share of total regional economic output, ISC schools’ value added is 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%. This is 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 £59m per annum. The lowest direct GVA impact total. The next lowest direct GVA impact resides in Northern Ireland with a total £64m per annum. This is followed by £87m per annum in Wales.

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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.

*The “direct economic impact”, relating to the economic activity of the independent schools’ sector itself.

**The study covers the impact of independent schools that are members of ISC associations. The ISC comprises seven constituent associations of independent schools, their heads, bursars and governors.

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