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'Oligarch fees' pricing out schools

The headteacher of a top private school has said expensive admission fees mean some have become "finishing schools for the children of oligarchs".

Andrew Halls, head of King's College School in Wimbledon, south-west London, said local lawyers, accountants and military officers had stopped sending their children to the school because of the fees.

But he said an "endless queue" of rich families from outside Britain had pushed up fees but it was a "time-bomb" he likened to the financial crisis of 2008.

The 185-year-old school, which has been named by Sunday Times as independent school of the year, charges around £20,000 a year for senior school boys aged 7-18 and girls aged 16-18.

Mr Halls told the paper: "We have allowed the apparently endless queue of wealthy families from across the world knocking at our doors to blind us to a simple truth: we charge too much.

"Somewhere along the way, first the nurses stopped sending children to us, then the policemen, the armed forces officers, the even the local accountants and lawyers.

"The most prestigious schools in the world teach children of the very wealthiest families in the world.

"We are in danger of coming across as greedy because we can charge what appears to be limitless fees, but in truth there is a fees time-bomb ticking away. It feels like the build-up to the banking crisis."

Recent research found that the cost of sending a child to private schools has risen by about a fifth in the last four years - around four times faster than rises in earnings.

Mr Halls suggested a collapse could be brought about by the supply of foreign families eventually drying up, while British families could elect to send their children to high-performing state schools.

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