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Private school - extra costs

(92 Posts)
Dilbertdoes Tue 17-Feb-15 11:48:57

My DD is currently at state secondary. We are in a difficult financial situation, indefinitely. She's taken the 13+ exam at a private boarding school that would really suit her and has been offered a scholarship and a big bursary, so we would have to pay almost no school fees. This is a great opportunity for her, but I've read a few things on MN warning about all the "extras" of private school. Does anyone have any guidance on what kind of extras we would be likely to come across, to what extent we could get away with her not having the extras, and the kind of costs involved? I appreciate that all schools are different, but it would be great to get some ballpark guidance before I decide whether to discuss this issue with the school. I'd obviously prefer not to have to.

OP’s posts: |
Leeds2 Tue 17-Feb-15 12:36:53

Uniform is usually much more expensive, as it is often only available for purchase from the school. Typically seem to need more of it too, particularly sports kit!

At DD's school, the cost of day trips are just added to your bill. Things like going to the National Gallery, or the Somme. Not going on these doesn't seem to be an option! This doesn't apply to, say, the ski trip but your DD may feel under pressure if all her friends are going on a particular trip, and she can't go.

Don't know if this is relevant, but my friend's DD has a scholarship, and boards. The scholarship % is only deducted from the day school element of the fees, so she has to pay full whack for the boarding element.

bcareathe Tue 17-Feb-15 12:55:26

You really do have to talk to the school, they differ wildly on this. DS's school guarantees no compulsory extras at all. Others will charge you for every exercise book, I'm told.

BadgerB Tue 17-Feb-15 13:15:57

School uniform may be dearer, but all independent schools I've come across have excellent 2nd hand uniform shops - and there is no stigma in using them however rich you are. Trips are the same sort of price as those organised by state schools - often run by the same companies, of course. In some schools DC on large bursaries are not really expected to go on expensive inter-continental trips. Many full fee-paying children don't go either; even fairly well off parent have their limits.

Dilbertdoes Tue 17-Feb-15 13:20:04

Leeds2 - I'm shocked that an extra like going to the Somme is not seen as an option! That would be a really serious expense to us, which I would expect to say no to.
I'm 99% sure that the scholarship and bursary apply to the boarding fees, but should perhaps make sure that there has been no misunderstanding.
DD is reasonably sensible - if she goes to a nice boarding school and her sibling is at state, the least she can do is accept that she won't be getting all the extras too.

OP’s posts: |
MillyMollyMama Tue 17-Feb-15 13:31:13

We paid £800 for sports kit and uniform about 10 years ago. Boarders have set amounts they want you to buy. Other extras really depend on what your child does. Music will be £20 per lesson, or thereabouts, as will drama. Sports coaching if taken is another extra. My DD did an extra cookery qualification which was about £1000. Hockey trip - £2500/£3500. Subject trips - anywhere between £20 for this country and £1500 for abroad. There are Theatre trips, ski trips, music trips etc. Our extras bill was usually over £1000 per term just for additional lessons for music, dance and drama (for 2 girls though). This is a few years out of date. If your child does nothing, they will not get the advantage of being at the school, so I would get hold of the extras booklet and see what she wants to do. Then work out the cost and see where you stand. The great strength of these schools is the breadth they offer so it is a shame not to carry on with music lessons, for example, because of cost. I do think you need to expect to spend something on your child though!

Dilbertdoes Tue 17-Feb-15 13:36:00

So that's 10 times the cost of state secondary school uniform and kit, and 20 times the cost of state primary!
£3000 for a hockey trip or similar would be completely out of the question for us. How does a school react if your child is in the hockey team and you refuse to send them on the hockey trip?
And is it possible not to go on subject trips?

OP’s posts: |
LIZS Tue 17-Feb-15 13:48:09

Typically 5-10% ime. I think if your dc was on say a sports or music scholarship there would usually be some funding for a relevant tour. You need to check exactly what the award covers - uniform, lunches, books, exam fees, trips, music tuition etc. Is it a fixed cash amount , the value of which decreases over time as fees rise, or % . Does the bursary element get reviewed each year? Are there conditions on each ? Presumably some of the costs would be similar to what you might incur in either system.

Iloveadrianmole Tue 17-Feb-15 13:49:48

I have two children at private school one DS at Prep and one DD at private girls school. Apart from school fees the extras we have paid for since January are:

£1450 - ski trip
£200 - horse riding activity week

£650 - French trip

£300 - per term per child for music lessons

The uniform for the secondary school is approx £600 new - although they do have a thriving second hand shop at both schools.

LadySybilLikesSloeGin Tue 17-Feb-15 13:54:33

It depends on the school. Some include curricular trips as part of the fees, ds's school has a fund for trips abroad. You don't have to pay for music lessons either. Do check whether lunches are included though, they often add insurance too. School uniform wise, buying new can be expensive, especially the PE kit. Some schools are not picky where the uniform comes from and have a second hand uniform shop too. Are you able to look online at their uniform list? This will give you a good idea where it needs to be bought from.

Figmentofmyimagination Tue 17-Feb-15 14:38:22

IME, the higher you get up the school, the easier it is not to do lots of "extra" stuff if you don't want to. But I don't have experience of boarding school - and it would worry me that the pressures - and the sense of "not fitting in" might be more acute than at a day school - is it just weekly boarding? What do the girls do who don't go off on the trip?

In our case, there is always a tonne of stuff on offer, almost all of it at extra cost, but you just pick and choose, and nobody cares. I usually say yes to the subject related day trips and the theatre outings, especially if the tickets are a good price. I always say no to the big ticket skiing holidays etc - but so do most other children - they tend to be organised across several year groups and nobody cares whether you go or not.

Since 2008 there is a bit of "poverty chic" going on, with parents much more likely to wear "not going" on something expensive as a badge of honour, rather than something to be ashamed of.

The most important thing is to make one or two secure friendships I guess.

Figmentofmyimagination Tue 17-Feb-15 14:41:17

Find out if they have CCF (if your DD fancies it). That is amazing value - lots of opportunities and good fun.

jeanne16 Tue 17-Feb-15 14:59:27

At our private secondary school, pupils on full means tested bursaries go on relevant trips free of charge. I don't mean things like skiing trips, but music tours and subject related trips. Other parents are charged a bit extra to cover the bursary pupils ( same as happens for the actual fees, of course).

jeanne16 Tue 17-Feb-15 15:00:32

Btw I should have added that none of the pupils are aware of this.

SuiGeneris Tue 17-Feb-15 15:02:10

Also have a honest chat with the bursar, who will know your situation and be aware of how that particular school works. Some schools have funds to cover extras such as important subject trips, most will have a second-hand uniform shop and you may be able to "borrow" stuff from it rather than buying it, some other schools will have separate funds for, say, buying books for deserving girls in XY house... These are unlikely to cover all extras of course, but might help with key stuff. And well done to your daughter for getting in!

MillyMollyMama Tue 17-Feb-15 16:37:44

I think you will need to be very careful about not letting her have "nice" extras. You will immediately be marking her out as "different" because everyone else will go on something, and be doing something, but perhaps not everything. How can you possibly deny a child a trip to the Somme if they are studying WW1? What about geography trips, art trips, MFL trips? The state schools around here do all this and parents pay. I think your DD will be in for a miserable time if she can't do what the others do and not flourish. You really do need to think about how you can pay for extras.

MillyMollyMama Tue 17-Feb-15 16:45:14

By the way, it would be an unusual boarding school not to have a very precise sports kit and uniform from one supplier. JL, Harrods, etc. Often second hand sports kit is not available because it gets worn out and grotty. Second hand hockey boots would be grim. Can I ask what you expected OP? You were hardly going to get a school skirt at Matalan!

happygardening Tue 17-Feb-15 17:15:47

We pay between £300- £500 extra per term. But we do pay for every text book pencil pen piece of paper, some include this is the fees, some extras are also shampoo etc, and dry cleaning. Art materials were barged to us as well I think. Day trips/sporting trips are added onto the bill. We pay for Bupa schools insurance I think every term this is voluntary but useful and previous conditions are covered and includes things like private physio etc. Public exams are also billed to you. DS2'ss school seems to keeps trips away as cheap as possible I don't think we've ever paid more than £700 for a week away including flights and often food.
Uniform costs very much depends on your school, I now always buy top quality shoes, boarders often walk a lot, it's definitely worth the investment the last three pairs have lasted at least twice as long as the cheaper ones. Every schools my DS has ever attended has had a 2nd hand uniform shop, but you do need to be organised and get in early, it's definitely worth it especially for PE kit.

DarkHeart Tue 17-Feb-15 17:27:31

My ds is at a private secondary on a substantial bursary. His kit costs £300 and uniform around £200. He didn't go on the ski trip (Yr 8) and didn't seem bothered.There are no compulsory extras, he gets lunches and books included and help towards all compulsory trips. TBH I would grab the opportunity. Could she go as a day pupil? If so they may adjust the bursary to include trips and uniform.

MillyMollyMama Tue 17-Feb-15 19:56:58

Only ever saw the odd pe skirt in our 2nd hand uniform shop! We must have had some grubby girls! Boarding school uniform is usually more than a day school because they will make you have more for laundry . The pullovers were unique to the school and the blazer was £120 ten years ago! Cannot imagine how you can buy a private school uniform for £200. Does this include a coat of any description? My DDs cloak at prep was £80!

Teddingtonmum1 Tue 17-Feb-15 20:23:43

We are on a substantial but not full bursary but uniform wasn't included but didn't get much change out of £1000, but I expect it to last at least 18 months / 2 years . Has a tuck account £30 per term, stationery account about £10/20 term, trips etc was about £40-100 per term last term was £180 in extras in total. so not too bad I pay my fees monthly so I pay an extra £50/75 PCM and it usually covers the extras Just ....

Isithappening Tue 17-Feb-15 20:32:06

Other parents are charged a bit extra to cover the bursary pupils ( same as happens for the actual fees, of course).

Most independent schools have separate funds for bursaries and don't charge full fee paying parents extra to cover bursary students. The money for the bursary fund comes from donors, benefactors, fundraising and investments.
Does your school not have a separate bursary fund?

openthecurtains Tue 17-Feb-15 20:46:41

It does vary hugely. We have 2 at day school and fees include lunches, text books, breakfast club, public exam fees, any day trips, any internally provided learning support from the school's SEN staff, all lunch clubs and after school sports. Doesn't include residential trips, individual music lessons, after school care or uniform. Our extras bill is small.

Uniform is about £400-500 a year including sports kit. I buy nearly all of it from the secondhand sale at a cost of about £60 per year.

As a former scholarship and full bursary student myself, the school paid for my lunches (they weren't included in my old school's fees), gave my parents a uniform grant covering the cost of a complete new set each year and paid for any residentials they considered to be helpful to my subjects.

Definitely worth asking the bursar to clarify it.

Congratulations to your DD, she's obviously done very well.

derektheladyhamster Tue 17-Feb-15 21:43:38

I've not noticed that trip prices are much different to the prices that state school trips cost, and there aren't that many. Big expenses are music and dance lessons, but we were offered free music lessons as long as our son joined the orchestra.

All uniform is from the second hand shop and all stationery is included too, apart from pens etc

MillyMollyMama Wed 18-Feb-15 10:17:18

I am afraid you are not correct about where bursary money comes from Isithappening. At very many girls' schools, or more recently established schools, there is no big bank of investments and benefactors going back centuries. History will show you that these places are usually boys schools with a long history. They may be co-ed now, but it was often the men who were the benefactors and gave to the schools. Very many girls' schools are much newer and do not have a history of their alumni in positions of power and great wealth over the centuries. As a result it is only fee income, helped by donations from old girls, that provides for bursaries. Some parents really struggle to pay the inflated fees due to the need to cover bursaries. Fund raising is also mainly done from the existing parent body. Don't forget schools need new buildings and investment must be made here or you will not attract students.

I think people receiving bursaries usually think the money comes from some bursary God in the sky. It doesn't in a lot of schools. I think school trips are different in boarding schools, by the way, because often they go into a holiday period. We had a 2 week Autumn half term. If you are picked for the hockey team but can't go on the tour then someone else will have to find £3000 for you! However you cannot assume everyone else is rich enough to do that or is happy about paying extra. What happens if 3 bursary children are picked to go? In a boarding school, children make close friends with the girls/boys they board with so not going on some trips can mark you out as different. Would you have spent nothing on your child if they were at a state school?

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