Private school fees have increased by significantly more than inflation over the past decade, making it difficult for people in many occupations to afford a private education for their children, according to research.
Fees have increased by an average of 68%, a rate of growth that is more than 1.8 times faster than the increase in the Retail Price Index (37%) over the same period, according to the study by Lloyds TSB Private Banking.
Since 2002, the average annual private school fee has increased from £6,820 to £11,457 in 2012.
Regionally, the biggest rises have been in Greater London and the south west with fees increasing in both regions by 79% during the decade. The next biggest increases were in East Anglia (74%), East Midlands (69%) and the south east (68%).
The lowest average increases were in the West Midlands (53%), the north, which includes the north east and the north west, (60%) and Scotland (63%).
Fees have increased significantly more slowly in the past five years than the previous five. Since the start of the economic downturn in 2007, the average annual fee has grown by 19%. This is closely in line with the Retail Price Index which rose by 18% in the same period.
The average annual fee in 2012 of £11,457 is equivalent to 35% of annual average gross full-time earnings of £33,011; in 2002 the comparable ratio was 27%. Researchers said that with fees rising by significantly more than the rate of inflation, it has become more difficult for the average earner in many occupations to send their children to private schools.
There are several relatively well paid occupations - such as pharmacists, architects, IT professionals, engineers and scientists - where someone on the average earnings for that occupation can no longer send their child to private school without assistance from other sources. In 2002, someone employed in these professions, on average earnings, would have been able to afford to send their child to a private school.
Private school fees are deemed to be affordable for an occupation if they represent 25% or less of gross average annual earnings for someone in that occupation.
Suren Thiru, economist at Lloyds TSB Private Banking, said: "Private school fees have increased by significantly more than inflation over the past 10 years, making it increasingly difficult for the average worker in many occupations to afford a private school education for their offspring."