The Littlest Credit Crisis Victims: UK Boarding School Kids

As if what this meltdown is doing to the rich hasn’t broken your heart enough already, what with the tales of investment bankers having to sell their second homes and pretend to give up bonuses…

Bloomberg: Growing food is on the curriculum at Leaden Hall private school for girls in southwest England, and students can thank the credit crisis.

“Pupils are growing potatoes, tomatoes, runner beans and courgettes,” said Diana Watkins, the head teacher of the school of 231 students, including 40 boarders, in the town of Salisbury. Planting took place in the spring, crops are tended by children and staff, and “every patch of grass is being used,” Watkins said.

The money-saving strategy at Leaden Hall, which charges about 13,500 pounds ($22,000) a year for boarders, underscores how some of Britain’s most expensive schools are cutting back on everything from store-bought ingredients to new classrooms in their struggle to contain fees as the credit crisis bites.

Increased competition and costs are forcing some English schools that charge fees, known in the U.K. as public schools, to merge or close. About 30 shut down between July and September this year, compared with 25 the previous summer, according to government figures. The pace of closures may accelerate, said Richard Cairns, the head of Brighton College, a school on England’s south coast.

As the U.K. economy tilts on the brink of a recession, private boarding schools are less affordable than at any time in the past decade — and student numbers are falling — according to HBOS Plc unit Halifax Financial Services.

Perse School for Girls in Cambridge has scrapped plans to introduce a new uniform, said Daniel Murton, the marketing director. Wellington College, opened by Queen Victoria in 1859, canceled as too costly a 25,000-pound sound-and-light show to celebrate its 150th anniversary next summer.

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