UP 24% in 5 years

The cost of sending a child to private school in the UK has risen by 24 per cent in the past five years, according to a new survey commissioned by Lloyds Bank .

The survey  found some concerns among parents that they will not be able to afford the cost of tuition in coming years.  However, the vast majority of those polled said their final decision about which school to send their child to was not ­motivated by cost. One wonders for how long this will continue.

The FT recently pointed out that a private school education is soaring out of the reach of the professional classes whose income is not even remotely keeping pace with the rise in fees. These striving, financially stressed parents are now dubbed ‘cling-ons’.  It is estimated that sending two children to a private school from the age of 4 to 18 currently costs an average of £610,000. One example, given by the FT, by no means untypical it seems, is Alleyn’s School in Dulwich, a co-educational private day  school, where  day fees shot up 49 per cent in real terms in the years between 2003 and 2013. Day schools are less expensive than boarding schools, and last year there was a fall in the number of pupils attending boarding schools.

Even the top 1 per cent of earners – among the group the FT has named the über-middles, composed of people such as doctors, lawyers and bankers – have seen only a 9 per cent rise over the decade, opening up a big gap between the increases in school fees and in their own earnings. Many parents are now seeking  ingenious ways of  alleviating the burden of fee payments using various tax efficient payment schemes, often with the help of schools.

Tatler the up market style magazine, which targets middle class, aspirational readers, is now highlighting good state schools as the financial pressures take their toll on its readers.

The main pressure on fees comes from teachers pay and pensions in the independent sector.  There will always be demand for private education, and places in the best schools can always be filled by pupils from abroad. But most schools seek a balanced intake and don’t want to be filled exclusively with pupils from abroad. However, if UK parents are finding it harder and harder to raise the fees, it seems likely that over the longer term families who have for generations sent their children to private schools will look to the state sector, and the independent sector will find it harder to entice UK born children through their doors. Currently around 7% of children go to private school, although in London  its closer to 12% ,and 18 % pupils over the age of 16 are  privately educated.


1 Overseas pupils made  up 5.1% of the total ISC pupil population in

2 One payment scheme to ease the burden   sees parents paying  their children’s school fees upfront as a lump sum — anything from a term to several years’ worth  The school will take the money and invest it in low-risk investments. Any profit the school makes is tax-free because of their charitable status (ie they have to have charitable status to benefit from this scheme). The school then splits the benefit with the parents. Those parents are given what the schools class as a discount based on the profit the school makes from the investment. And the school keeps whatever is left over.


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