Private school - a bit of a stretch(35 Posts)
Would appreciate your thoughts / experiences. Looking at the sums we could just about afford private school fees for our DD (now 3 yrs old so looking ahead to Set 2014). But I am wondering whether the fees are just the start - do the other costs of private education stack up? Not sure what really, but off the top of my head... does uniform tend to be expensive... are there lots of pricey trips etc... school meals?... and so on! Can anyone give me an idea of whether this is something we need to be mindful of?
Also, my next question (but maybe it depends on the school) - we are not wealthy and as I say, doing this would be a bit of a stretch. Do kids from a more 'average' background fit in ok? Maybe the question sounds daft, sorry - I'm perhaps overthinking things!
BTW, I get the whole private / state school debate, and there are some good state schools near us, but I do want to explore the options!
DS is just about to go into an independent school at yr5. The uniform is much more expensive than his current polo shirt & shorts from Tesco. However, there is a second hand sale a couple of times a year, white shirts can come from the supermarket still and the brilliant lady in the school shop shoved him a track suit 4 ages too large 'because they don't wear them out' !
After school care to 5.30pm carries no extra charge. DS does not play an instrument so no costs there. He won't be going skiing and the overseas sports trips have been brought much closer to home 'in the light of the recession' according to the brochure.
We live way beyond the M25 and the majority of kids at the school do not come from monied backgrounds. My bog standard car didn't look out of place in the carpark.
There will also be the inevitable fundraising/ charity of the year type stuff at most indies which though not compulsory seems to expect dps and relatives to continually sponsor dcs for doing various activities. I think all in all we've given about £200 this year to school's charity. Will definitely be more careful next year.
For pre-prep and prep - I don't think the extras are too bad. OK the uniform and sports kit is £££ but you can buy second hand.
With regards to trips, these aren't massively expensive for the first few years. My eldest is going into yr5 and his trip will be £350.
We also get early care and after school care included in the fees and the vast majority of extra-curricular activities are free.
There is a mix of families at our school but yes there are a lot of very wealthy families.
I know the head of a top pre/prep school. He says (off the record, clearly!), that in his opinion if you can get your child into a good, village primary school there is generally nothing to be gained by paying for private until about year 5. He recommends saving up a few years' fees in this time, everything being equal, so that fees are much more affordable in later years.
The only trouble with that snoot is a place might not come up!
Some preps are massively over subscribed.
That said, the parents in that financial bracket are often highly mobile, so families do go abroad..
At our local day indie - it gets more expensive as you go further up the school.
Pre-prep fees finish at £9K pa.
Prep school fees finish at £14K pa.
Senior school fees finish at £17K pa.
If you've got a really good state primary in the area, then I would opt for that and then tutor for a few years if you want to get her into a selective secondary (indy or state). For a boy, if you are aiming at the schools that use CE then I would move them to a prep for 2-3 years before the exams.
You do not HAVE to go on the expensive school trips. Neither I, nor my siblings, nor most of my friends ever went on the skiing trip. Generally it was the same 5 or 6 families who went every year.
Second-hand uniform is sought after - and often a bit of a bun fight to get hold of. I have found it a bit odd, that all my prep and GS uniform was snapped up by new parents, and yet even offering DD's logo'd cardigans and other bits and pieces (that she has barely worn over the course of a single year and look practically brand-new) for free, I don't seem to be able to find anyone who wants them.
I live in a very deprived area and wondered if accepting second-hand clothes is seen in a bad way here?
There were a vast range of backgrounds at all the indies I went to - more so that at the state GS. Some parents were obviously extremely wealthy with sparkly new cars and holidaying all over the world, others were more like my parents... local professional with 4 kids counting the pennies and holidaying in the UK on the cheap every year. I would guess that the majority were local GPs, solicitors, dentists, architects, accountants etc rather than bankers and celebs. Plus there were children who were on bursaries some of whom came from very humble backgrounds (not that any of us even knew who was on a bursary). Many of the teachers' children also attended as they got a reduction on the fees.
Different schools will have different extras - some include lunch and clubs in the fees. IIRC, the extras at my school was for music lessons, ballet lessons and the odd day-trip.
The extras can be very little.
Mine do have music lessons but many do not and that is because we are a musical family I sing, ever day and 3 of them won music scholarships.
however mine choose not to go on residential school trips - many children don't go on those.
Lunches - plenty take in packed lunch.
The vast bulk of everything I pay every term is those fees. There might be the cost of the school magazine added on or £14 trip to the theatre but it really is hardly anything.
My girls got about 100% of their school uniform second hand as the schools rang second hand uniform shops, second hand lacrosse sticks etc etc. I give back for the younger children their uniform to the school now and that will be sold on to other parents I'm sure.
There are very varied backgrounds around here - outer London.
Try to pick a school it is hard to get into and which send children to very good schools at 11 or 13. If they take just about anyone then the standard may be worse than your local state primary.
It's very tough. But if you get the right school it's worth it.
The things to calculate are: think about the total you'd spend on the education. From 5 it's at least 150K. If you can afford that then INSTEAD you could give her a lump sum of 100K to start her life with. In addition you can afford tutoring and all the tennis lessons under the sun, and go travelling to your hearts content. You can afford Mandarin lessons, or home-schooling for a time with a tutor. Unless I was very comfy I would not do it from 5 because every disappointment can be magnified. You'd think you have more call against the school because you're paying, but you don't, so you have to choose a VERY good school.
I have two in private, worth it, but can't wait till it's over.
DD starts prep school in September and her uniform is costing a fortune (around £340 new, for one set) they do have a second hand store but apparently haven't had anything DDs size in quite a while, her school do have a list of permitted brand/lines of shoes though and 2 hats (summer and winter) and a uniform coat, blazer etc and virtually everything has a logo so you can't buy it from a different shop. I know my friend's child, who is at a different prep paid a lot less than that as her school has mostly M&S uniform so it very much depends on the school.
As for clubs trips etc, most after school clubs are £40 a term but as that includes stuff like ballet and tap lessons in small classes it's not terrible, They do have trips once or twice a year but these are usually about £20 so no worse than state school trips, it's about £100 for packed lunches a term and there seems to be a lot of cake sales, charity events and stuff that go on.
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