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What are the additional costs associated with private schools ?

(32 Posts)
mumtosp Wed 03-Dec-14 13:17:22

Hi all,

Firstly, I am not looking to start a state vs private debate smile

We are just starting to look at some local schools for 2 yo DS (state and private) and also trying to decide whether we can have another child and afford to send 2 DCs to private. I do not want to compromise on having another child just so that DS can go to private school... I would rather have 2 DCs and send them to a good state school if private is too expensive..

Looking at the fees per term, we may be able to afford to send 2 DCs to a private school. However, I am wondering what the other additional costs are and how much 'additional' should I be preparing to spend?... on things like sports kits, tutors, extra curricular activities...

any advice would be much appreciated smile
Thaknks !

5ChildrenAndIt Wed 03-Dec-14 13:21:34

IME tutors and extra curriulars are optional (enough free clubs that DC won't notice if they don't get - say - violin lessons).

Uniforms cost more (both per item - and in that there are many more items to acquire. Eg full branded sports kit, summer/winter variants etc).

Trips are not exorbitant or compulsory at our school - but still more expensive than state (but good value - they can get enough support to go for more ambitious trips).

Allow for fee inflation.

EdithWeston Wed 03-Dec-14 13:27:19

Check to see if lunch is included in the fees. Also what trips are included and what is billed as an extra.

Are before and after school clubs billed separately, and if so how much?

Uniform will be expensive, but is it reasonably practical, or dry clean only wool? Do they have a second hand sale?

Factor in childcare costs to cover the longer school holidays too.

Allow at least 5% pa for school fees inflation.

atticusclaw Wed 03-Dec-14 13:31:03

At our school

fees go up every year without fail - this is the biggest factor
compulsory school lunches about £300 a term from memory
trip fees - compulsory probably no more than £50 a year in infant and about £250 per year in juniors but optional trips are about £1000 (ski trip). In the senior school this rockets.
uniform - £300ish per child per year.
music tuition £40 per hour

atticusclaw Wed 03-Dec-14 13:31:21

Oh and after school club at £6.50 a time

Johnogroats Wed 03-Dec-14 13:32:43

Jumping ahead a bit, but we have done similar exercise for secondaries. Friend with 11 DS at Dulwich College pays c£16k a year in fees, but says they don't get any change from £20k due to lunches, uniform, trips etc.

Our local comp looks very attractive!

JoandMax Wed 03-Dec-14 13:35:12

Mine are Year 2 and reception and I would say we've spent maybe 10% on top of fees for trips, uniforms, extra curricular activities for DS1 and the multitude of dress up days/theme days they seem to have!

Plus as atticusclaw said the increase each year is also above inflation, ours have been around 6% a year..........

Timetoask Wed 03-Dec-14 13:43:17

If you are unsure about the finances then my advice is to go for state school. My advice to you is to make a spreadsheet including rows all the way up to the end of your child's school and assume a 4% annual increase on fees, then see how much you will end up paying in several years.

Also: have one year's fees available always in an account and save upfront for each year, this is what I do and it gives me peace of mind to know that whatever happens ds will stay in his school for the whole of the academic year.

At ds's prep:
Fees have gone up every year by about 4%
Most school clubs are not included and although they are optional it is nice for the kids to take part with friends.
Summer uniform, winter uniform and best uniform for an expensive shop
different pe kit for various things
payment for trips
insurance
musical instrument lessons at about £22 for a half hour lesson

I am really happy with the school, I cannot fault it and because of that we continue to pay, but it means that we need to sacrifice other things.

5ChildrenAndIt Wed 03-Dec-14 14:00:12

Try to suss out the parent body.

I have a DS state & a DD private.

Our prep school seems to be predominantly double-income professional households. I don't think they take the piss with extras - and lots of things are 'inclusive' that I pay extra for for the state educated DC.

In particular, DD is a decent swimmer, and gets an hour 'team' swimming coaching per week, plus the hour 'curriculum' swimming. DS might also be a decent swimmer - but we'll probably never know - as we labour through the inconvenient 30 minute council pool lessons.

The after school care at DDs school is also better and cheaper than DS school. The prep school wraparound care is well used (by the parents working to afford school fees - natch) - and the school feeds the DC a hot supper and supervises homework properly - so if you pick them up at 6pm there is nothing more to do. DSs state school (which peversely has many wealthier parents than the prep) runs a glorified crèche for £15 per session.

Also good second hand uniform shop - and lots of quality free clubs.

I think other schools can be more ostentatious - both in what the school expects you to pay - and how accepted 'economizing' is.

5ChildrenAndIt Wed 03-Dec-14 14:01:57

(in case it wasn't clear - the swimming is free - as would be extension in athletics or tennis - and I do value that as a ££££ perk - since I pay retail for lower quality coaching for my state educated DS)

CaulkheadUpNorth Wed 03-Dec-14 14:02:16

Insurance is an added extra at god-daughters school.

SageMist Wed 03-Dec-14 14:13:51

Also factor in transport costs for actually getting to school. Could be your petrol or could be school bus.

Inatizztoo Wed 03-Dec-14 14:30:55

Fees do go up every year. Uniform is a major cost. Thankfully DD hasn't needed any new uniform this year as it all still fitted.

Check exactly what is included in the fees as it can be very different between schools. DD's school includes meals even if she stays a bit later and has supper or arrives early for breakfast. Other schools we considered charge for each meal with lunch being compulsory.

Most of the clubs are free with some exceptions like horse riding. Music lessons can be quite high at £28 for 30 mins, but not all children have them.

There have been several low cost trips per year (under £50) which everyone has to go on. Foreign trips are optional and not everyone goes on them. In DD's year only one child isn't going on the summer trip (approx £400). Not sure how left out she will feel when everyone else talks about it both before and after. More expensive trips like skiing have a much lower percentage of children going and you wouldn't feel left out for not going.

One thing that can add up in the long term is that all examinations are chargeable, including GCSE's which are free at state schools.

Bonus for prep schools are that generally if your child is bright, they stand a better chance of getting into a grammar school via 11+ or a scholarship to senior school than going via state school (sad but true).

LadySybilLikesCake Wed 03-Dec-14 14:32:07

Ds's prep charged parents to see their child in the school play at £10 a ticket as the headmistress hired a bloody theatre! hmm After school clubs were £10 a term (per club, 1 per day) for equipment (which was never replaced). Then there was trips and the pretty much constant fundraising. Accident insurance. School fee protection (which only covered you if your DC was sick, not if you lost your job... which I found out after I lost my job). Music lessons, instrument hire, speech and language lessons. The uniform was shocking. You could only buy it from one outfitters, £90 for a Gloverall, £70 for a blazer, £70 for a tracksuit etc. There was a homework room where they could stay for an extra hour (not useful if you finished at 5pm as it closed at 4:30) for £1 a day. The holidays were also a lot longer and there was no holiday care provision and all of the local nursery's holiday clubs were only open when the state schools were closed, so a nanny at £250 a week so I could work.

Ds's senior school- the plays are free to watch. The clubs are included, the trips (as long as they are educational) are included in the fees, accident insurance is included. I pay for lunches, music lessons (£225 a term), Cello hire (£25 a month). School uniform can come from anywhere but the massive amount of PE kit can only come from the school shop. I think the fees went up by 4% this year. I pay for his laptop (ds is disabled). Swimming is free. There's a holiday club (yay!) and the school is open from 8am to 6pm at no extra charge.

It varies from school to school.

5ChildrenAndIt Wed 03-Dec-14 14:39:09

Yes - definitely varies from school to school. Like I said - out school is sensitive to the fact that its fees tend to be paid out of working parent salaries - and it acts accordingly. Holidays are longer - but they rent their facilities to a third party holiday camp operator. This effectively means that (for extra charge - but commensurate with market rates) you can have 48 weeks care per year at the same premises.

CMOTDibbler Wed 03-Dec-14 14:41:00

I think it varies massively from school to school. At ds's school, the uniform isn't exorbitant, very practical, and theres lots of second hand sales. Meals are included, as are before and after school care. All after school clubs which are run by staff are free and theres a big choice.

The most expensive normal trip is £200 for 5 nights actvity holiday in y6

Ds learns violin and recorder as part of regular music lessons, but many children do a private lesson and LAMBDA as well which is pricey.

There are a lot of bits and pieces of cost - £5 for the outside living history, tickets for dance showcase, costume for that, contributions for sales etc.

LadySybilLikesCake Wed 03-Dec-14 14:43:00

Oh, that must really help 5ChildrenAndIt smile Ds's prep wasn't geared towards the working parent, I don't think.

Purpleroxy Wed 03-Dec-14 15:01:47

My friend has a dc at a private school where the fees look cheap but the extras are massive. Some schools incorporate the extras into the fees in the first place so look more expensive. You could name change and write the school name on Mumsnet to see if people know it.

Sometimes wrap around care is included, sometimes not. Ditto lunch and compulsory trips. Schools can manipulate what their "fees" look like. You needs to research the actual school(s).

Purpleroxy Wed 03-Dec-14 15:05:34

Uniforms vary as well. Even a uniform where the items can come from supermarkets can work out very expensive if the list is massive and there are lots of different kits for different activities.

LadySybilLikesCake Wed 03-Dec-14 15:11:42

PE kits are a pain. There's one set for hockey, one for cricket, one for athletics, one for rugby (with 2 tops), swimming kit and a tracksuit. I may have forgotten something.

Do be wary about schools which are privately owned. The prep I was talking about up there was sold. It's normal practice for the owner to keep quiet so you don't know until you get the letter, or you turn up and it's not open. The head had tried to sell it for residential development but there was an issue with access or something so she sold it to a wannabe headmaster with not an awful lot of experience. He weeded out the families which didn't fit his ethos, like single parents, so we ended up leaving.

Lovecat Wed 03-Dec-14 15:23:40

DD changed schools from one private prep to another this year. The new one is run by a charitable trust whose charter is to provide 'affordable' education for local children.

Fees for the new school are less by c.£700 a term, however:

No wraparound care - there is a breakfast club from 8.30 and an afterschool club but only til 4.30, so no much use if you're working (old school began at 7.30am for breakfast and finished at 6.30pm, included in the fees, and a hot tea - usually pasta or beans on toast - was served if you were still there at 5.30pm).

No school dinners, everyone must bring a packed lunch - this is a huge bonus for DD as she prefers sandwiches and hated the compulsory dinners at her old school, but a total faff for me.

No swimming - her old school gave yrs 3-6 a swimming session for one term each year, included in fees.

School trips have to be paid for by parents, they were inclusive in her old school.

Lots more fundraising activities (however there isn't much pressure to take part so far!)

Uniform cost is more expensive and more inconvenient as the only shop that sells it is 12 miles away around the North Circular, but they do come into school three times a year and you can get them to deliver to the school if you order online.

However, the new school is a so much happier, more human place!

Things common to both schools:

Music/singing lessons are extra and no instruments are available from the school to borrow or hire (when I was a kid our state school had a stash of instruments you could borrow while you were taking lessons, no idea if this still goes on!)

Lots of kids getting outside tutoring for maths/11+/common entrance exams. Whether this is needed or not I don't know, but there's something about private preps that seems to induce a collective utter paranoia that your child is somehow missing out and will 'fail' if it isn't being tutored and the rest of the class are.

Lots of emphasis on extra-curricular activities to put on their CV - again, parent induced madness, but you can find yourself signing little Sophie up for hockey and tennis and choir and debating club and latin and gymnastics and several different instruments in order to pass muster at the secondary school interview if you're not careful...

SanityClause Wed 03-Dec-14 15:37:03

I have DC at private and at state schools, although all my DC went to private junior schools.

The main differences in cost I have found have been that the uniform is a bit more expensive at the private schools, but TBH, not much. It's mostly the PE kit where the difference lies.

The school trips are pretty much the same. DD1's (optional) ski trip at state was to France, and was about £300 less than DD2's ski trip at private, where they went to Canada (also optional).

The other trips have been pretty similar. Actually, I think DD1 had gone on more trips than DD2 by the same stage.

The school lunches are more expensive at private. Obviously, you can usually choose to send a packed lunch, so this can be taken out of the equation.

So, from my experience, there's not all that much difference in the cost of the extras.

But bear in mind that whichever they go to, you will have to pay for extracurricular activities. So, you might be able to afford the fees, but not the other activities on top.

LIZS Wed 03-Dec-14 17:18:26

We paid on average 10% more in extras per term. Check whether they include lunch , trips, swimming, after school clubs, after school care, books, learning support etc Each will include some , all or none of these. Allow for around 5% fee increase like for like annually plus any incremental increases as they progress up the school from one year to next. There may be a second hand uniform shop which will cover basics at less than half normal price. Even so expect to pay between £200 and £500 for uniform and kit.

apotatoprintinapeartree Wed 03-Dec-14 17:28:05

I think it depends from school to school tbh

for e.g my friends dd goes to state school and her uniform including the expensive P.E kit and Blazer are double if not treble what we would spend at the private school we are considering for dd.

extra curricular activities vary tremendously as well. You can pay more for music lessons from the same teacher at a private school as the school pay them a fee and charge you more to pay for school buildings. The same teacher coming to your home could be a good third cheaper.

dietcokeisgreat Wed 03-Dec-14 20:15:23

We have just been through this whole decision very recently. I left it a bit late so had to do intensive research and school viewings. We are a 1 full time and 1 part time working parents with about £4700 net income monthly. We live in an expensive southern area ( not London). Having considered our local options and the fact we are about to move house( post state applications, work related non negotiable dates) we have decided to start ds off at a prep. I am 12wk with no.2.
We think we can manage it for two ( and who knows if we like the independent school or how ds will get on) as my DH did a spreadsheet with fees rising 5% yearly, some for extras, some wraparound childcare on my 3 days, our mortgage payments, bills, usual expenditures etc. plus we are on salary increments per year on a fixed national scale. So we have modelled it all, but you can't predict every eventuality. until recently paying £900/mo for full time nursery ( now get 15hrs free and i reduced my hours) so we have got used to at least that level of cost! We know we are in for a fixed sum inheritence a some point - not a vast fortune but enough to help out- from my granparents curretly aged 97&98. It could be another ten years ( i hope) but unlikely to be longer!!!

Model your finances. Look at all local options and try something. We hope we are making the right choice, but won't really know until ds settles in.

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