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School Fees: What is the true cost?

(43 Posts)
WednesdaysChild Mon 10-Aug-09 12:27:28

So, if it's not too intrusive, could anybody tell me what the true cost of putting your child through a private education?

e.g. Fees £3k per term
Trips? etc.

Do they offer a discount for a second child? (possibly a daft question but....)

beckysharp Mon 10-Aug-09 12:53:14

Depends how old your child is and where you live. Have a look at this for average costs:

As for the 'additional' stuff over and above fees, it really depends how much money you have, your attitudes to education and childrearing, all sorts of things... You could scrimp on trips (other than in-term educational ones), buy secondhand uniform (frankly, I don't know anyone who doesn't!), not be too flash with lots of charity fundraising donations etc, and my observation is that there are plenty of people doing the above. At our school it is clear that some people are unfeasibly wealthy and others are only just affording it and scrimping and saving. No-one minds either way. We are towards the bottom end, I guess, and never feel that anyone is looking down on us or anything.

If you wanted to know an actual example amount, then I have a child at senior school and one at prep school, both at a prestigious (ie expensive) London day school. I put aside £2500 a month to cover fees and all extras (uniform, trips, musics lessons and books, etc) and that covers it. For a top rate tax payer, that means you need to earn about £40k before tax over and above your living and housing costs to pay for 2 kids at private school out of your monthly income.

Hope that helps!

WednesdaysChild Mon 10-Aug-09 13:02:26

Thinking of senior school only.

LIZS Mon 10-Aug-09 13:06:36

What is included varies for each school. Some fees would include the likes of curriculum based trips, lunches, learning support, afterschool clubs and daycare etc, others not. Music lessons, dance and some sports at external venues are usually extra. Maybe allow up to around 10% for these. Most would provide basic essential equipment but sometimes stationery and text books are chargeable especially at senior level. The uniform list can be extensive and specific too.

Agree with becky, don't forget that fees are paid out of taxed income so you need to gross up the costs to allow for tax and ni deductions to work otu what you need to earn to cover it. There is often a 5% discount, sometimes more, for a sibling and subsequent children, also some professions still qualify for one at some schools.

beckysharp Mon 10-Aug-09 13:20:21

Should have mentioned as well that not only do schools offer means tested bursaries (many more these days as they have to meet their public benefit requirement more effectively) but sometimes help is available from other charitable foundations - worth checking out. I think the ISC website might have details of that too.

AramintaCane Mon 10-Aug-09 13:24:24

Means tested bursaries are often no help. Where we live you have to earn less than 18k to get fifty percent off the fees. How would you afford to keep a kid and pay the other half of the fees ?

WednesdaysChild Mon 10-Aug-09 14:00:52

Has anyone been sucessful in claiming a bursary or had help from a charitable foundation?

Sorry for pressing on this blush but I have a genuine interest.

flatcapandpearls Mon 10-Aug-09 14:03:28

That does seem daft Araminta. I know there are some mumsnetters who have bursaries hopefully they will help you,

Maybe start a thread specifically on bursaries.

sarah293 Mon 10-Aug-09 14:06:41

Message withdrawn

WednesdaysChild Mon 10-Aug-09 14:17:16

Blimey! Just seen one in my county that charges £5k per term in fees!

Riven: Anything to add about SEN funding for this type of education?

LIZS Mon 10-Aug-09 14:19:24

You'd have to check SEN funding with your LEA - ours aren't very helpful once they know you are going private ...hmm

beckysharp Mon 10-Aug-09 14:52:44

Have just found these for you WednesdaysChild: /uploads/documents/financial_assistance.pdf

I don't work for the ISC, honest blush

I do work in this field though - they are very helpful and knowledgeable.

Araminta, those bursaries sound mad!

WednesdaysChild Mon 10-Aug-09 15:17:08

Thanks becky, had found the list via your earlier post but they all seem to be either for dyslexia in mainstream only or SEN only. I was thinking about SEN in a mainstream setting, if it exists.

AramintaCane Mon 10-Aug-09 15:19:50

Same here Riven I was amazed at the exam fees.

AramintaCane Mon 10-Aug-09 15:24:13

The burseries here are mad - the only people I have known able to accept one have had wealthy grandparents able to pay the rest of the fees.

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Mon 10-Aug-09 15:26:49

I think the SEN costs vary between schools and depends on the support that the child needs. A educational psychologist assessment can set you bac £500 but if you go through the GP (if you suspect aspergers) then you won't need to pay this.

As per other costs:
Trips are more expensive as they are not subsidised. Expect to pay full whack.
School uniform: Ds's blazer alone for his last school was £67!! He's 10, I think it came up to £500 in total.
Transport to school as it's no longer down the road, this cost us 1K a term on top of the fees. sad
Don't forget the fund raising.
Some charge for school lunches.
Some charge for after school activities/homework club
Individual music lessons and hire of the instrument (about £200 a term)
To be honest, you don't need new school uniform, some have pathetic colours that you can only buy from the outfitters, at one school ds attended the uniform was brown and cream. It looked lovely but you can't pop to M&S and buy a pack of shirts for £5 or a pair of trousers for £3 (more like £15). The one we hope he's going to in September has a much cheaper uniform (blazer £20 from John Lewis)

MummyDragon Mon 10-Aug-09 15:30:52

At DH's (he's a teacher) mixed private secondary day school, fees are approx. £10k per academic year exluding extras.

It's always worth speaking to the school secretary about bursaries, scholarships, SEN provision etc. School secretaries are usually very clued up on all these things, and often much easier to get hold of than the LEA, and they can probably give you the direct line of someone at the LEA to save you ringing round the houses wink

There is a discount at DH's school for siblings. Not huge though; about 5% for the first sibling I think, and increases after that.

Trips that are "compulsory" (i.e. no trips are actually compulsory, but can be deemed a fairly essential part of coursework etc) will not cost any more than if your child attended a state school. However, private schools offer a huge range of optional weekend and holiday trips - DH took a group of kids to the Caribbean at Easter this year! - and these do cost a lot. This one cost at least a couple of grand, I believe.

(It cost DH quite a few grey hairs too!).

MummyDragon Mon 10-Aug-09 15:36:16

Oh, as per your OP: same thing goes for equipment really. A lot of it is optional - e.g. musical instruments, etc. Sports equipment can probably be borrowed (cricket bats, tennis racquets etc) for the first few years, and can also be shared. You will probably find that your child needs more school clothes though, as private schools tend to do a wider variety of sports. For example, different sports kit (and shoes!!) for rugby, hockey, cricket for boys, or netball, hockey & tennis for girls, plus swimming kit etc. Art overalls, science overalls etc - I assume these would cost the same in a state school as they are fairly generic (and again, you could buy 2nd-hand ones).

Blazers are expensive, but can be bought second-hand and the trusty school secretary will be able to advise you of when the second-hand sales are. I plan never to buy any brand-new uniform ever again!
In the sixth-form the kids have to wear "business dress" i.e. suit and tie (of their own choosing) for boys, and blouse, skirt & jacket for girls.

sarah293 Mon 10-Aug-09 16:22:23

Message withdrawn

mumoverseas Mon 10-Aug-09 17:20:20

£3K and £5K a term. Sorry OP but that is quite cheap in the scheme of things.

DS1 (now 16) went to prep school at age 4 (as did DD1 now aged 13) which was when DS started around £1,500 per term. This increased drastically from about year 3 and even more from year 9.
Thankfully DD is now going to a relatively cheap (£4K a term) school but the one DS1 is starting in September for his A levels is just over £8k per term (full boarding) thank god he got an academic scholarship which has reduced that a bit.
I don't mean to scare you but please think ahead and make sure you can afford to fund your DC all the way through. Some of DCs friends have been pulled out of private school along the way and didn't adjust very well. Its been a long struggle and thank god I'm nearing the end of it for DCs 1 and 2 and DCs 3 and 4 haven't yet started but I'm already planning ahead and trying to save.
Ref extras, there will be the inevitible school trips (that EVERYONE else goes on) so a lot of peer pressure and other extras, for example at DS's new school they ask for £50 per term to assist 'poorer kids parents' (thats me I want to scream!)

Bursaries are available at some schools but they do often want to have a good old nose through your finances. Most schools do offer scholarships although only in certain year groups and the exams are usually in the winter or the spring for the following year.

Please just make sure you can afford to continue once you've started. Its been a stresful few years the last year or two

Daisy134 Mon 10-Aug-09 17:22:48

Good article here which gives a breakdown of all the extras - uniform, trips, books and sports kit can really add up! I think you're about right with the fees, for a day school. Boarding can be up to £7.5K... There's more about saving money on that site - scholarships/bursaries etc

asdx2 Mon 10-Aug-09 18:49:17

Would add though that with a statement and an almost definite need to go to tribunal it is possible to force an LEA to fund a private school and even LSA support.
You would need to be able to prove that the LEA couldn't meet your child's needs at the maintained schools in your LEA.
For that reason it is usually applications to specialist schools that are most successful as it is easier to prove a need for specialist provision that LEA is unable to provide.
For autism for example it is worth looking at schools with specialist speech and language facilities as well as those with emotional behavioural status (high proportion will have Aspergers)
If that is the path you want to choose you need to get supportive assessments done by private EP,SALT,OT etc.
A statement that is very specific with regards to child's difficulties and the input required and advice from IPSEA and SENDIST.
It can be done but will cost upwards of £5000

WednesdaysChild Mon 10-Aug-09 19:08:52

Boarding wouldn't be a consideration in this case. Fees may actually be financially viable for us, depending on the school.

Meals, music, transport to & from school, tuck shop and even, (in the case of some schools) donations to the PTA and other charities and school day trips all seem to be very much around the same costs as some mainstream government run schools. They even have a suggested school maintenance donation and charge for milk. All the extras actually added up to around £600 easily last year. (Not allowing for transport but including school meals).

So it's an extra £500-£1500 per month in fees and a bit extra for uniform that is the real difference.

Comparing this to, say, using the money to allow moving house to 'anywhere' in the country to be near the best government run school.....

It is a genuine interest. DH & I often discuss which options would benefit DC most but still unsure.

We have friends who do pay for their dc's private education, one of them inherited and had assistance from the grandparents, one has a generous MIL who funds the whole thing and another (single mum) who (amazingly) actually worked nights in a factory for years to pay for her DS with great success.

Not sure about the special needs aspect though. They just don't seem to be geared up for it.

goinggetstough Mon 10-Aug-09 19:18:55

I think the GCSE exam fee quoted earlier was for a taught course or for a total of approx 10 GCSEs. My son has just taken GCSE AQA Science and we were charged 19.50. It does probably vary depending on the subject and the examining board but not by that much!

asdx2 Mon 10-Aug-09 19:21:27

Would definitely advise that private school without a statement isn't as good as state school with a tight statement from experience.
DN with dyspaxia was privately schooled from 3 ultimately at Lincoln Minster School left at 18 with two D grade A levels in PE and Geography.Had SIL used a fraction of the money she spent ensuring DN had got a tight statement he would have fared 100 times better and quite probably not be so socially isolated as he is as most peers went to Uni and he has no social contacts locally and is now on an apprenticeship at 20 alongside 16 year olds. Really sad

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