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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....

Narked Tue 12-Feb-13 19:28:02

'The average full time UK salary is £26,500'

Yes. And there are parents on that (each) who will have one child and send them private.

Narked Tue 12-Feb-13 19:29:44

You have to remember that not everyone lives in areas like the South East where house prices are utterly insane.

seeker Tue 12-Feb-13 19:33:20

Once again, I am gobsmacked by the "better not born than state educated" attitude!

OldBeanbagz Tue 12-Feb-13 19:35:42

No inherited wealth here and as far as i'm aware none of the parents i know are getting any help from their parents.

Every penny spent on my DC's education has been earned by myself & DH and since we're self employed it's not been an easy ride.

But it's worth it and my DD has just got a scholarship for senior school so that will help smile

BooksandaCuppa Tue 12-Feb-13 19:36:54

It does sound shocking, seeker, when said (heard) in a vacuum...but people make decisions about family size all the time based on financials (number of bedrooms/cost of nursery etc). I think if you had an SEN child in private education for very good reasons and wouldn't want to have to move them, and that that meant not having a second, you'd possibly not have that second child. Surely, existing children come before potential children.

Narked Tue 12-Feb-13 19:38:44

People make their choices. I'd have six of my own and be a lady of leisure if money were no object. In the real world DH and I got married, got our careers established and got a house before TTC.

BooksandaCuppa Tue 12-Feb-13 19:40:34

(And I could only have one dc, anyway...different it's a redundant argument in our case).

Narked Tue 12-Feb-13 19:43:08

And people are on here all the time talking about how they have given up work to SAH because they can't afford nursery costs for two under three or planning to try for another DC only when their youngest hits school age.

LadyInPink Tue 12-Feb-13 19:43:09

Seeker - we neither smoke, drink or have sky subscriptions and have a DC at private school but it's still a struggle.

I went back to work and so my wages pay the fees, and DH wages pay the mortgage and everything else. We are not expecting to pay for secondary private as it is sooo much more than prep and with us both s/e it would be a burden as we would hate to uproot halfway through schooling and so it will be local comp (with private tuition should we need to go down that route).

Narked Tue 12-Feb-13 19:44:56

Only those who don't have to work don't consider money when it comes to having more DC. And the ultra religious I suppose.

FairPhyllis Tue 12-Feb-13 19:48:55

It's not at all unusual for GPs to pay school fees ime - esp if there is some sort of family tie with the school that they want to preserve (usually for boys' education at places like Eton and Winchester). A couple of friends of mine had this set up.

Also as you said there is huge variation in the cost of living and price of fees nationally: my school had loads of girls on bursaries/Assisted Places (before Blair scrapped that!), and I had a 50% scholarship, which must have helped my parents. Plus some people do it on a wing and a prayer: before I got the scholarship, my parents calculated that they had enough money for three years of fees and hoped that in the meantime something would come up.

pugsandseals Tue 12-Feb-13 19:50:25

In our case:
1 - we bought a house just after the crash in the mid-90's so are lucky that even after moving a couple of times our mortgage is more managable than many
2 - we chose to have just one child
3 - we downsized & moved 100 miles to a cheaper area
4 - I gave up being a SAHM
We are not rich by any means. DD never been out of the country for example. We could have lived more comfortably without school fees no question, but we chose all of the above (apart from the lucky house moves) in order to prioritise education.
IMO, anybody that can pay nursery fees while they work has a chance to consider private education as it is only an extra couple of thousand per year. Also any stay at home mum can choose to go back to work to pay fees. You only need £12-15k before tax for one!

WMDinthekitchen Tue 12-Feb-13 19:58:37

When exH and I split up we sold the family house which was in a good area. I bought a small, modern house in a much cheaper neighbourhood for DD and I, but the local school had poor inspection reports.

I worked full time and, with the help of the small amount of maintenance that her father paid (him having shuffled a lot of his money offshore), and taking a lodger, I managed to pay the fees at a private school. In her last two years finance was easier after my DM died and left me some money and her flat, which I sold. DD also had a sports scholarship which helped a little.

To get DD into a good primary school (i.e. a very expensive area) I would have barely afforded a top floor flat with a sofa bed for me in the sitting room.

Virgil Tue 12-Feb-13 20:05:23

We have two DCs in private school. The school fees are practically the same as the nursery fees were. If you're used to paying nursery DS and can afford those then you can pay private school fees too (at least in the early years). It just mean you're paying out for 18/21 years rather than 4!

racingheart Tue 12-Feb-13 20:11:36

I know parents who sink £500k- £11m into a house near a good state school, who upgrade their car every two years, stay in 5* hotels abroad or go on Mark Warner holidays, their DC have every Wii/x-box/console going and even have blackberries, and the parents have i-phones, ipads etc, every gadget going. They eat out three or four times a week at local caffs or pubs as the mothers who don't work, want a break form cooking. They say they can't afford private schools.

Anyone living like this can afford private but chooses not to. That's what some of us were saying on a previous thread. Most people can't economise and afford private but many who say they can't have levels of disposable affluence that stagger me.

racingheart Tue 12-Feb-13 20:12:45

Not £11m, £1m.

lopsided Tue 12-Feb-13 20:12:53

It isn't doable for us and we both earn more than average. 2 children post tax need 24k a year for primary.

We do not live extravagantly, one car, cheap hols. We do save for our pensions. It's patronising to suggest we have our priorities wrong.

If you bought your house in 2006 you can be paying double your neighbor who bought in 1995 round here.

diabolo Tue 12-Feb-13 20:14:23

We only have one DC (not a decision made on whether or not we could privately educate smile), but find it OK to manage without help from GP's.

We live in a nice, but not posh house, drive nice but not posh cars and go on nice but not posh holidays.

DH earns a good wage and I supplement with a p/t wage that covers treats, holidays, Christmas, Birthdays etc.

Virgil Tue 12-Feb-13 20:17:44

24k per year after tax? It's definitely doable for less than that.

We pay under £1500 per month to send two DCs to a top rated selective independent primary.

lopsided Tue 12-Feb-13 20:17:56

My smart phone costs me 15 quid a month, its hardly going to pay the fees to Eton!

Virgil Tue 12-Feb-13 20:18:32

Not that I'm saying anyone has their priorities wrong. Everyone's circumstances are different.

Hulababy Tue 12-Feb-13 20:20:46

We don't have inherited wealth and neither me or DH were privately educated ourselves. We don't come from money families (far from it), it is all from our worked for income. There are no grandparents footing the bill for us. DH is now in a very well paid job. I changed my job when we had a child to be able to be at home more with DD, which means DH has been lucky enough to take opportunities which have lead to promotions and increased earnings. We pay the fees from this and are fortunate enough to not have to scrimp elsewhere, such as holidays, cars, etc.

We only have one child, this makes it much more affordable. It's not the reason for one child - but it obviously helps.

usualsuspect Tue 12-Feb-13 20:21:23

'Also, any stay at home mum can go back to work to pay school fees?'

Yeah, it really is that easy.


olivo Tue 12-Feb-13 20:24:11

Not all fees are that expensive. DDs school is 3.5K per year, not per term. There are two other private schools locally which are about 4.5K per year.

olivo Tue 12-Feb-13 20:25:09

It is around a third of what we were paying for them for nursery when they were under two.

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