Private school pupil numbers have fallen to a five year low amid rising fees, official figures show.
There are now 580,955 pupils at fee-paying schools, which is the lowest it has been since 2014 when it was 578,955.
It comes at time of growth for the overall pupil population, which has increased each year for the last decade leaving state schools struggling to cope with large class sizes.
This is the second year in a row that the number of students at independent schools has dropped, data published by the Department for Education revealed.
School fees have increased in recent years, and last year they were raised by an average of 3.7 per cent, making it the highest year-on-year rise since 2014.
Sir Anthony Seldon, the former headmaster of Wellington College who is now vice-Chancellor at Buckingham University, said that too many private schools have “allowed themselves to get too expensive”.
He said: “Many people warned for a decade that if the independent sector carried on putting its fees up there would come a point at which it would become unaffordable.
“Clearly the state sector has been getting better year on. The cost of private education and the improvement in the state sector is reaching an inflection point.”