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How much more expensive is it have a child in secondary rather than primary school? (non fee paying)

(25 Posts)
sunev Mon 17-Mar-14 14:01:52

I know it'll be different with every family but I wondered if anyone had noticed roughly how much extra they're paying out from year 7 upwards? Thought if I got a few replies my answer would be somewhere in the middle.

It's a normal secondary school, further from home so I'm allowing £15 per week for bus fares, he already has school lunches but I'm guessing he'll want more choice so allowing an extra £1 per day for snacks/drinks. School uniform I've been told about £300. School trips - who knows? Don't know what clubs he might want to join - more techie than sporty.

Are there other things I've missed? Obviously as they get bigger clothes cost more, appetites grow and interests seem to get more expensive (fondly remembers the days when a plastic tortoise that said 'doh, reh, mee' was an electronic gadget). I want to try to put aside money each week now so that it won't be a shock when it happens. We're not poor, but find money gets allocated to something almost as soon as it's hit the bank account so would appreciate any rough figures or advice.

mummytime Mon 17-Mar-14 14:51:28

School Uniform costs more up front, but isn't necessarily replaced more often, so DS only needed 2 Blazers for the whole of secondary. There are less "compulsory" trips, but can be far more expensive optional ones.

They want less stuff, but it can be far more expensive - we use Birthday/Christmas money towards it.

The eat a lot more! This is the real additional expense in my experience.

Does the school have a cashless card/finger print system? You can usually put a daily limit on them, and meals are often cheaper than sandwiches etc.

Artandco Mon 17-Mar-14 14:57:40

I think money for resources/ supplies adds up. Ie they usually need paints/ brushes/ charcoal/ art supplies at home as they go on, otherwise fins it hard to keep up with homework. Measuring rulers/ cutting boards if design tech. Up to date computer software, some resource books, graph paper etc etc

All can be done at school theoretically but it means staying behind when everyone's gone or having to constantly remind to not forget maths protracter etc, so helpful for have

meditrina Mon 17-Mar-14 14:59:24

Growth spurts! You can find yourself shelling out a lot on bigger sizes at irregular but annoyingly frequent intervals. Cross your fingers and hope for a school with good second hand sales. Also PE kit - they seem to need loads.

5madthings Mon 17-Mar-14 15:03:45

A lot more!

Uniform is way more expensive, and they have a specific or kit.

They need stuff like an apron for certain lessons, the usual stationary stuff.

I have to pay bus fare which is £100 a month.

School trips can be hundreds, mine don't go on them all but ds2 has a French trip this year that is £400? Ds1 has trips for hose and even though they are often day trips they have Bern £30-50.

As they get older clothes are more expensive and clubs and they eat loads! Plus stuff like mobile phones, tho mine have basic deals on those. They also need pc access for homework so you really need pc/laptop at home and one that's reasonably up to date.

sunev Mon 17-Mar-14 15:09:52

Thanks, one of our expenses at the moment is replacing shoes and trainers - either he grows 1/2 a size each term or he wears them out. Similarly with trousers, the knees get worn out quicker than anything. Food-wise - can see this starting already, sometimes he'll finish his dinner and open the fridge door on the way out of the kitchen so good point about limiting daily spend.

For us, main extra cost is going to be travel as primary school is 5 minutes walk and secondary school is 2 miles. Can buy weekly/monthly tickets, but might let him buy each day and if he wants to walk home he can keep the money.

Computer software - hadn't thought about that kind of thing, will add this to my list!

meditrina Mon 17-Mar-14 15:42:15

He'll probably need studded rugby/football boots as well as trainers, maybe plus a mouthguard (for hockey/rugby) - boil and bite are much cheaper than fully fitted, and a sensible choice until dentition has settled down and jaw stopped growing).

And a decent scientific calculator (Wilkos sell acceptable Casio ones).

mummytime Mon 17-Mar-14 16:03:01

Football boots were my major gripe. DS hated football/rugby so used them at most 1 a week then needed new ones (other PE was indoors and needed Trainers).

I did a deal on fares, and we split the cost of a monthly ticket with them if they walked both ways (nearly 2 miles). Didn't work so well for DD as she spends a lot on non-school clothes.

ChippyMinton Mon 17-Mar-14 16:13:05

Food tech an add up, but hopefully that's only for 8 weeks in y7.
We are London, so Oyster card for bus is free. Packed lunch.
No big trips yet.

To be honest, after the initial outlay for uniform, I haven't noticed much difference, as he has football boots etc anyway.

slug Mon 17-Mar-14 16:15:55

Now DD's in secondary school there are no more childcare fees. This makes a major difference to the balance of payments.

dottyaboutstripes Mon 17-Mar-14 16:35:30

I've had 3 go through secondary school so far and didn't notice extra outlay though admittedly they walked to school so no transport costs.
It's when they go to uni you need to worry!!

I haven't noticed much difference tbh. Also in London so travel is free, the after school clubs are all free (unlike primary school). The boys school also sells Uniform in house, so it's actually cheaper than DD's primary school uniform (and generally an easier colour to get too!) They all don't ask for multiple sports uniforms (one fairly inexpensive PE kit)

Mine still have packed lunch - quicker for them to eat as the queues for hot food can be long. The big trip are expensive yes, but they're not compulsory.

Creamycoolerwithcream Mon 17-Mar-14 19:42:34

Overall I haven't found it much more expensive than primary. The first two years my sons had growth spurts and got through a lot of trainers, school shoes and football boots but this has eased of a bit. Mine get free school transport which has helped. They have non uniform day every half term for �2 each whereas at primary school they seemed to need money every week for something or other. Day trips are probably similar but there are more residential trips which we pay of each month. Having boys has helped uniform costs as they share a lot of stuff. If you asked me the same question a year or two ago I would have said yes but I have noticed the cost seemed to have got less as they got older. Their last residential trip was year 9 so I have just paid of the last instalment for my youngest son.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Mon 17-Mar-14 23:58:36

Travel is the main difference for me at we opted for a school 10 miles away so its £750 per DC for transport.

Football boots - if your DC doesn't use them outside school check to see if school offers a hire scheme. Mine does.

Software, DCs school has a scheme where via the school's license they can download Microsoft Office at home. Also worth checking.

Agree that there are less little trips here and there, but there are bigger optional costs.

Apart from that, no real difference other than growing teen costs.

BackforGood Tue 18-Mar-14 00:05:37

Lot cheaper in secondary for us.
My dc all walk to and from school (1.5miles each way) but the main saving is the fact we no longer pay out for breakfast club and after school care.
Then you don't get the requests for money for trips and activities on a regular basis like you do in Primary.
Trips/visits are usually facilitated by using the school mini-buses so don't have to hire coaches, plus they don't happen so often.

Yes, you have to buy the uniform all in one go at the start of Yr7, as you did when the eldest started Reception, but for my dc, it wasn't anymore expensive than the Primary Uniform.

I give them very similar amounts for dinner money - if they want a snack at break they are welcome to take fruit, cereal bars, breakfast biscuits, or even a sarnie if they can be bothered to make it.

There are offers of more exotic trips, but they are just that, offers - you only go if you can afford it and want to spend that money on them.

Jynxed Wed 19-Mar-14 23:46:44

We have "voluntary" donations for the tech subjects amounting to £50 - £60 per term that we get hounded about. Also expensive trips which they make you feel very bad about if you don't partipate, e.g French exchange trip for £400. I second what others have said about the amount they set, that costs a lot more, and from walking to school we now pay £115 per month for 3 teenagers on buses & trains. Am dreading uni, that sounds much worse!

Supermum222 Sun 23-Mar-14 06:24:56


I was wondering this too. My son starts secondary September 15 so I have started to think about things. He will, hopefully, attend the secondary catholic school but it is across town and a bus ride away. For years the bus has been provided by the council but, due to cutbacks, funding has to be sought elsewhere and I think will be the first year to pay.
I am also wondering what to do about childcare. I work 3 days at the moment (but may be going full time soon, still thinking about it), DH works shifts all over the place). I have a girl coming up 6 too. At the moment, they both go to breakfast club (at school) and the childminders after school/in the hols. I guess I won't be needing the breakfast club for him once he is at secondary (the bus leaves at 8.10am) but I worry about after school. The childminder usually stops having them after school at 11.
I am thinking of trying to work opposite DH so there is always one of us around.
Arrghhh, lots to think about. Trips I have been told are to France and China in our secondary. Other parents have told me not to buy everything on the uniform list as they don't need it all.

Supermum222 Sun 23-Mar-14 06:28:10


Can I ask what parents of secondary children do about childcare in the school hols? DH has fixed hols and rarely gets time off in the school hols.

SanityClause Sun 23-Mar-14 06:45:12

Unlike in junior school, the second hand uniform on sale is often quite worn out, because they tend to get a lot of wear out of it. Younger children do a lot more growing, comparitively.

The upside of this is that having bought uniform, you may not have to replace it very often.

School trips are expensive, and while they are not compulsorary, they are often really worth while. Skiing in Canada, singing in St Paul's Basillica in Rome. When will they get another chance to do stuff like that?

VestaCurry Sun 23-Mar-14 06:51:13

The school lunches really add up, so dc1 has a packed lunch 4 days a week and when his class is first in the queue he buys the school lunch.
Trips - some are bonkers eg £1700 for a 6 day ski trip to the US (no way). Others v reasonable eg 3 nights in Berlin £250.
Music lessons are £100 a term.

SanityClause Sun 23-Mar-14 06:54:16

Supermum, will your DS be allowed to stay at school later? My DDs, at different schools, are both allowed to stay in the library after school to do homework, until 5:00. Obviously, this could cause a travel issue, I realise.

But, if he stayed at school, then got the bus home, had a key to let himself in, surely he wouldn't be at home alone for all that long, anyway.

Anyway, he will soon be a teenager, and being home alone really won't be an issue.

For holidays, can he visit any family for a week or two? Can you arrange sports day camps (or theatre, or whatever he is into)? Depending on the child, he may well be happy just to mooch around at home, or to organise things with friends. So long as he has access to food and so on, by the time he is 12 or 13, he will easily be able to fend for himself.

OohOod Sun 23-Mar-14 07:14:20

School uniform about £300 each rather than 50, trips about £400 (yr/8/10) , sports clubs costing about £50 a term plus clothes/shoes/boots and music £50 a term plus instrument cost.

Weegiemum Sun 23-Mar-14 07:43:04

We have one in high school and 2 in upper primary.

Transport isn't a cost for us as dd1 gets a bus pass from the school, ds and dd2 have a bus laid on.

Lunches are more expensive, but our biggest outlast is definitely on clothes uniform is inexpensive at our school but dd1 is becoming more brand conscious, though is still usually happy with Primark!

After school clubs were always free but in primary I had to collect them and that was both awkward and could be expensive as I have mobility problems and can't drive. Now, dd1 sometimes hangs around after school and then picks her siblings up from their clubs.

Dd1 and ds now eat noticeably more food. Electronic equipment usually comes as birthday/Christmas presents, they don't have lots of gear in their rooms as we're a 1TV family by choice. Dd1 goes through industrial quantities of art stuff but she's on a special extra-curricular programme due to her talent and we don't really mind as she's got potential.

Musical instruments are also more expensive - in the last year we've had to upsize dd1 to a 90% accordion and dd2 to a full size violin. Given the rate ds is growing, I'm thankful you don't get different sizes of piano!! Mind you, those instruments should be for life now.

rainbowfeet Sun 23-Mar-14 07:59:56

Just been pricing up uniform for dd who starts high school in sept & buying only 2 skirts, 2 jumpers & 2 shirts plus blazer, PE top comes out at approx £100 (so used to having more tops & skirts as it's cheap at primary school hmm so lots of washing from sept onwards)!
Add on to this rest of PE kit, shoes, trainers, bag etc... Probably not much change from £200-£250 confused
Day trips apparently are rare & residential trips although expensive approx £1000 + for skiing etc are only for the very top set?? So not sure dd will be in that catagory yet.

It is a shock when Last 2 years I've doubled my club card points at Tesco & bought 5 or more of everything & it's hardly cost a thing!! I've warned her at £27.00 for a blazer & £13.00 for a jumper she'd better not lose anything!! shock

ChippyMinton Sun 23-Mar-14 09:57:56

4\5 shirts are must at secondary, a clean one everyday!

Beware of stuff on list that is nonessential or can be bought elsewhere. DS has a rugby shirt £27 which he's only worn for after school rugby, and even then for matches the school supplies a different one. There must be loads of folk that bought them unnecessarily. Shorts and socks can be from anywhere, not just the uniform supplier.

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