Who can afford private schools in the UK?

(1000 Posts)
wjchoihk Tue 12-Feb-13 17:18:43

Hi. I am not sure if this is an appropriate question to ask here. But I have always wondered how rich you should be to send children to private schools in UK. Fees are anywhere from 3000 up to 10000 per term. Even allowing for wide gaps in income, thinking of 'avearge' UK wage of 26,000 pound, math simply don't add up for a normal life with such high fees. I also know only 7% of children go private though.

How much of private parents live on "inherited" wealth and how much on simply superior current earnings? I have my kids at SW London privates but I wouldn't be able to afford this without current int'l expat package. Some parents at my kids' schools LOOK and ARE very very rich but most of them LOOK quite down to earth. But I can't ask....

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 12-Feb-13 17:26:30

We had five in the system at our peak. We didn't spend money on anything else.

We don't have any inherited wealth. Every penny we have is earned income.

alanyoung Tue 12-Feb-13 17:29:38

I worked in a private secondary school for a term's maternity cover some years ago and many of the parents there lived on the father's income and used the mother's to pay the fees. That's not a sexist attitude - it's just the way it was.

My dad pays my daughters school fees. I wouldn't be able to afford it myself but I was privately educated and the family wanted her to be so he pays it .

I'm just lucky that way I suppose .

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Tue 12-Feb-13 17:37:10

We can't. It really is the preserve of the few (well, 7%!)

sittinginthesun Tue 12-Feb-13 17:39:17

I have three close friends who have children in the private system.

First couple live in a cheap area, and literally spend every penny on school fees.

Second couple - husband earns decent money, but the dcs are at a school where money means a lot (think ladies who lunch, catered for dinner parties, designer clothes). They are considering state grammar for secondary.

Third couple are stupidly, ridiculously loaded! Have the school fees for the dcs entire education already in the bank!

(Interestingly, we are all from very similar backgrounds, and were in the same place 10 years ago...smile).

seeker Tue 12-Feb-13 17:40:52

Everyone. All you have to do is cut out smoking and drinking, stop the Sky subscription and have a dig down the back of the sofa.....

BeckAndCall Tue 12-Feb-13 17:40:59

We pay out of income - no wealth or savings. At the peak (they're older now) it was £38k pa. our approach was that the fees came out of my income - DH's earnings were to pay the mortgage, household bills etc.

happygardening Tue 12-Feb-13 17:42:39

We reckon to put one through boarding school fees £34 000 and to pay it out of your wages as well as a mortgage food clothes etc you need to be earning between you at least £115 000+ and then your spending half your income on fees! Thats the man earning more so paying higher rate tax and becasue the wife has taken time out for kids and paying normal rate tax and both on PAYE. So a tiny minority.

wjchoihk Tue 12-Feb-13 17:44:11

Wow. It's quite astonishing to know grand parents are paying for grand childrens schools. I have thought that would be only "Asian" thing. Is bank of mama and papa a universal thing? Brits are more Asian than Conitnental europeans in that regard?

FreckledLeopard Tue 12-Feb-13 17:46:02

My mother helps contribute towards school fees, for which I'm very grateful. I was privately educated from aged 3 onwards and DD is at private for secondary school.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 12-Feb-13 17:46:06

Genuinely, according to one poster on here whose name I can't remember, a couple on the minimum wage.

scaevola Tue 12-Feb-13 17:47:52

Bear in mind that the 7% is an average: the proportion in prep schools is much lower than that, but the numbers in 6th form are pushing 20%. Saving up for two years worth for A levels is probably a much more manageable prospect than a full school career.

rubyrubyruby Tue 12-Feb-13 17:48:12

We could afford to send ours private but choose not to. It's not inherited income, my DH just earns well and we live moderately.

I have friends who have made a fortune and send private .
I have friends where both parents have careers and the 2nd income pays entirely for the school fees.
My mums friend was head of a private school in east London and many of the fathers worked days and drove cabs until the early hours and weekends to finance a decent education.

There is no 'typical' private/state school family imo

You just work out what your priorities are, we have one ds in private education (special school as he has lots of SPLD). Its what we had to do, so we do it. If we hadnt moved schools when we did then he would have failed no doubt about that.

When you are faced with that prospect you do everything you can to give your child the best start in life and for him that meant being in a specialist school with a maximum of 6 students per two teachers and one class and a maximum of 50 children in the whole school.

My ds is now 10 and has been at he school since he was 8. It was a struggle as we have no inherited wealth or parents that are prepared to help us. However we have just recieved the news the LEA is now funding his fees. So on top of paying his ££££ fees we had a court case to pay for on top of this.

Do i regret anything, no i don't and if we hadnt won the case then we would still make those sacrifices to ensure he stayed at the school until he was 18.

happygardening Tue 12-Feb-13 18:01:27

scaevola this 7% figure is bandied about a lot. Is that the total number of UK British children in independent ed. or the total number of children? More and more boarding schools are taking children from outside of the UK often 10 -15% will be from abroad.

rubyrubyruby Tue 12-Feb-13 18:01:57

I don't really agree with your 'bank of Mama and Papa' comment tbh and it sounds like your jealous.

It's s lovely gesture and many if the older generation can afford to do this.

FatalFlowerGarden Tue 12-Feb-13 18:10:56

morethanyoubargainfor - clearly your ds is a specific case who requires specific help so please don't think I'm directing this at you but...

... I do hate this attitude of 'it's just a case of priorities' - actually for most of us priorities don't even come into it - paying for private education is completely out of the question no matter how much you scrimp and save. Seeker is right. It's not a case of cutting back on holidays (what holidays?) or remortgaging (what if you rent?) or whatever...I could live on beans and still never afford the 16K that our nearest independent school charges...

Ds is applying for a school that has a generous bursary pot but if they don't offer a very substantial amount off the fees (and I do mean SUBSTANTIAL), he won't be going, it's as simple as that!

wjchoihk Tue 12-Feb-13 18:14:02

ruby - my apologies if my bank of M&P comment sounded that way. Coming from a different culture, I have always thought "western" culture is like "you are you and I am I". You may not notice this but English and may European language always start with "I". Having said that yes I am jealous of those who get support from parents. But that's the kind of luck that is better if you have one but still can do without it. I just wanted to know about this country better. Anyway thank you for all the comments!

givemeaclue Tue 12-Feb-13 18:16:53

Well, I guess others may be jealous of yet and the expat package paying your school fees!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Tue 12-Feb-13 18:20:20

You just work out what your priorities are, we have one ds in private education (special school as he has lots of SPLD). Its what we had to do, so we do it. If we hadnt moved schools when we did then he would have failed no doubt about that

Maybe he would, but to say its simply a question of 'working out your priotities' and 'doing what you have to do' is simply not applicable to the vast majority of people, you know.

wjchoihk Tue 12-Feb-13 18:20:51

givemeaclue - It is not always as straightforward as that. My kids will be quite old by the time my UK assignment ends, which means they may have to spend another 2~3 years in UK education as it will be too late for them to go back. Then having been in private system for years, I may need to send all my home income. That's why I am interested in this topic.

BillComptonstrousers Tue 12-Feb-13 18:27:14

We pay from DH earnings, which are 75k a year. No outside help, and still manage a fairly nice lifestyle, but am looking to downgrade house, as our rent is ridiculous!

Sulawesi Tue 12-Feb-13 18:30:21

I also hate that 'working out what your priorities are ' argument, what a load of old tosh. Most people couldn't afford private school fees even if they worked every single minute of the next ten years night and day it just isn't possible. It is absurd to think that most people would be paying upward of £20k (2 children at average cost private school) for holidays, nice cars etc that they could just give up to send little Johnny to the local prep school.

Morethanyoubargainfor, I appreciate that you have a very specific case (as do I as it happens) but it is still a ludicrous assumption that it could be achieved for most people in this country.

I say that as someone with DC's at fee paying school who is under no illusion that it is only for the very lucky few.

rubyrubyruby Tue 12-Feb-13 18:32:54

No need to apologise.

I'm not sure it is the 'British' way tbh. I'm amazed how many shun help from their parents when they are alive, claiming independence, but are quite happy to have the money when they inherit later on.

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