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....

Coconutty Tue 12-Feb-13 18:33:03

Massive variety of wealth at DS school, some funded by grandparents, some work 3 jobs, some very successful in their own right etc.

scaevola Tue 12-Feb-13 18:34:42

happygardening A good source of stats for independent schools is the Independent Schools Census. I'll try and find another table I saw a while ago at covers numbers in state schools; they weren't counted in the same ways, but you could get rough and ready %ages.

rubyrubyruby Tue 12-Feb-13 18:34:51

It depends on your local state schools too. Ours is fantastic and there are many children there whose parents could easily afford private.

FlouncingMintyy Tue 12-Feb-13 18:37:17

Its less than 7% of parents paying school fees. There are bursaries and scholarships and the armed forces and grandparents.

scaevola Tue 12-Feb-13 18:38:06
TheFallenNinja Tue 12-Feb-13 18:45:26

Thanks Seeker, I just found three quid down the sofa, woo hoo smile

JourneyThroughLife Tue 12-Feb-13 18:46:01

You don't need to be loaded to send a child to a private school. I sent my son to a private boarding secondary school, I was a single parent with very little income. We had a bursary for most of the fees and I wrote to charities to fund the rest! I thought it the best option for him, the school suited his needs. My daughter went to a state high school, she was a different character and chose the school for herself, it was nothing to do with her gender by the way.
Lots of schools offer bursaries for those who can't afford the fees, it's more important to get the best "fit" for the individual child, I think.

eatyourveg Tue 12-Feb-13 18:54:18

ds1 had 2 scholarships and a bursary. With ds3 we pay 50% and grandparents pay 50% he gets a v small siblings discount (5%) We have only 1 car, no foreign holidays, no x box or smart phones or any other fancy fripperies such as sky subscriptions or the latest fashion accessory. Approx 16% of gross pay goes in fees - its just a question of deciding what the priorities are.

homebythesea Tue 12-Feb-13 18:56:48

Loads of grandparents contributing - it's tax effective!
Lots of high six figure incomes - partners in law firms, management consultants etc
Loads of Bonuses - bankers etc
A few benefit from company buy outs
A few made money in property in the 90's / early noughties
Some slog it out and have no other material frippery
Some are paid by employer eg expats, armed forces
Some have scholarships / bonuses
Many have a combination of the above

homebythesea Tue 12-Feb-13 18:58:02

*scholarships / bursaries

TotallyBS Tue 12-Feb-13 19:00:38

The first £80k gross of our joint income is used to pay fees for two DCs, mortgage, bills and a modest holiday and 'treats' like eating out and theatre trips. The remainder goes into a savings account for future fees plus uni.

IMO if a family (with two kids) has a income of less than £80k gross then compromises and sacrifices will have to be made.

As for inherited wealth, the parents that we know well are high earners (lawyers, accountants, business men etc) so I'm not aware of anyone financing their school fees via inherited wealth.

With regards to the comments about GPs helping out being an Asian thing, IMO (based on living in the Far East for a few year) it's not uncommon for ordinary income Asian GMs to use up their life savings to help out with education fees. However, the attitude towards private education in the UK is such that few ordinary income GPs are going to sacrifice their pension money smile

think that Brits that are well off

sparkina Tue 12-Feb-13 19:02:01

We pay out of dh's wages. He earns well but I am conscious of the £10,000 disappearing every year. Dd has been there since primary thro secondary. We haven't decided what to do with ds yet but it will be only be for secondary as happy with his primary school and it'll mean never having two there at once.

BooksandaCuppa Tue 12-Feb-13 19:04:45

Of course most people can't afford it just by cutting back or forgoing holidays.

But...one child x 5 years of secondary day school = £50K/£60K. Added onto your mortgage because that's the same cost or cheaper than moving 10 miles up the road to be in catchment for the 'best' state school.

We earn less than one higher rate taxpayer between us. We saved up over some years for our AS son to go to his senior school - and had a little help from his grandmother, who's a dinnerlady - but we might have put it on the mortgage otherwise.

My example is much, much more doable for more people than 2 or 3 children x 14 years of education, obviously.

HesterBurnitall Tue 12-Feb-13 19:06:18

It's hardly just matter of priorities when bursaries are limited and the fees exceed many people's total income.

Our children and their cousins are the beneficiaries of a trust fund that pays for any and all educational expenses. They're extraordinarily privileged, as are the majority of children in private education. To assert its a matter of priorities is both blinkered and patronising.

I understand that people don't get the whole 'its about priorities' but it was for us.

Our household income isn't anywhere near some of the salaries mentioned on here and definitely not 6 figures! I only work Part time (due to physicalhealth problems), but we make the ends meet by, well i dont really know to be honest!
We dont have Credit cards, or claim anything for my DS we just go without...alot! My treat is once a year haircut for example.

Truthfully if my Ds didnt have the SPLD he has we wouldn't even contemplate private education for him, nor if we had chosen to have any more children. e simply wouldnt have been able to justify it so therefore unable to afford it IYKWIM.

chickydoo Tue 12-Feb-13 19:10:05

We have 4 kids
2 at private school at Pres.
No 4 will most likely go age 11, No 1 child already left.
We earn around 100k
Take home around 60k
2 lots of fees around 30k
Leaves us with around 30k a year for everything else.
State schools in our area not great, so we decided private was right for our kids.

BooksandaCuppa Tue 12-Feb-13 19:11:17

You're right, Hester it's both 'blinkered and patronising' to suggest it's purely a matter of priorities...but, logically, there is a tranche of people who fall into the income bracket who could afford private school fees but choose not to (they have more holidays, better cars and a bigger house or more savings or whatever than their peers). Because the income distribution doesn't jump from not being able to afford it - say for one child - and then comfortably being able to afford it with no compromises in other areas. That wouldn't make any sense.

About half the people I know earn substantially more money than us but none of them are paying for school fees. That's their choice. Not everybody's, obviously. I think that's what people mean when they say that.

stealthsquiggle Tue 12-Feb-13 19:14:51

It's clearly not "just a matter of priorities". DC's friends all have one or more of:

2 parents in top 10% of earners
1 parents in top (guessing) 5%
inherited wealth
Funding from grandparents
1 or both parents working at the school (generous staff discounts, which are not the norm)

A small proportion will have far lower household incomes and are on bursaries.

Thats exactly what i meant Books, thanks for putting it so much better than i did!

Narked Tue 12-Feb-13 19:18:22

Agreed. Obviously many people couldn't come close to affording it but there are plenty who could afford it and choose not to. 14 years of £12k+ per child. It's a big decision.

Narked Tue 12-Feb-13 19:21:10

Most of the parents I know have at least one fewer child than they would have had if they'd opted for state over private.

HesterBurnitall Tue 12-Feb-13 19:21:20

The average full time UK salary is £26,500. It's a matter of priorities for a minority of families. Failing to add that rather large caveat is blinkered, assuming that private education should be a priority is patronising. I don't get why, cases such as morethan's excluded, people don't just admit its because they want to and they can.

BooksandaCuppa Tue 12-Feb-13 19:22:21

But, like I said, Narked, 5 (or poss 7) years of secondary is a lot more 'doable' than the full 14 years; you don't necessarily have to pay for it out of monthly/yearly income but can save up in advance/pay some off in arrears (mortgage/loan etc). Again, number of children is the key to this theory. No way could we (around top 60% of income threshold not top 10%) have paid for two!

Narked Tue 12-Feb-13 19:25:56

I know plenty of people who have gone for the 7 year option. Or moved miles away to counties they've no connection with that still have the grammar system.

CarlingBlackMabel Tue 12-Feb-13 19:27:44

We both work f/t at around the average wage and could not afford private school. And we live frugal lives as it is.

Maybe for the 'marginal' private-school afforders your housing costs are key. e.g did you manage to buy a house and get a mortgage when prices were much lower? Do you have a HA place? Did you inherit enough to pay off your mortgage?

Of course during the early years you have nursery costs to pay, and that is close to school fees - except fees get more expensive, and those nursery years nearly did for us, we couldn't continue like that. You can't put off a new roof for ever, etc etc.

We're OK, though - very happy with state education in our area, and would only consider private as a contingency if we had to pull a child out of school or something, even if we were v rich.

This thread is not accepting new messages.