Private schools are spending millions of pounds expanding their facilities, according to a new survey of teachers.
The research, from the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), indicated that 48.7 per cent of staff in the sector work at independent schools where building work is underway or planned.
However, the research suggests that one of the sacrifices made by institutions funding the construction of new sports facilities and theatres is a freeze on pay levels for teaching jobs.
Some of the more lavish facilities being built include go kart tracks, art galleries and animal sanctuaries - leading to fears that the cost of private education is rising because establishments are not scaling back their spending despite the recent recession.
The survey results contrast with evidence from the Independent Schools Council's own annual census, which chairman Barnaby Lenon said shows that most of the new building projects involve classrooms and science facilities, according to the Telegraph.
He told the newspaper: "The notion that there is a facilities arms race going on is simply not true. But all schools - independent and state - need to update their facilities from time-to-time in response to changing demand."
At the same time, the ISC has reported that its Populus survey of 2,057 adults indicates that almost six in ten parents (57 per cent) would prefer their children to be educated privately if they could afford the bills.
Furthermore, only 25 per cent said they would not, resulting in the most favourable response to the survey since its inception and marking a significant shift compared to 2002, when 48 per cent said they would and 42 per cent said they would not.
The main factor for those preferring independent schools remains perceptions of better education standards, with seven in ten adults agreeing that independent schools will leave children well placed to take advantage of university and career opportunities in later life.
Rudolf Eliott Lockhart, deputy general secretary and head of research at the ISC, said: "The strength of these schools lies in their ability and commitment to offer a bespoke education to their pupils, giving them the very best start in life.
"That more parents than ever would like to send their children to an independent school is clearly reflected in the rise in pupil numbers in ISC schools this year."
Posted by Theo Foulds