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What is the cost of private schools in the UK?

Have you wondered how rich you should be to send children to private schools in the UK? Fees can be anywhere between £3000 and £10000 per term so with easy calculations you can see that the cost of a full 6 or 7 years at private school could exceed £100k.

Even allowing for wide gaps in income the costs of private education are very high. At present about 7% of children go to private schools and some will enter by way of an elevenplus exam while for others their parents have to pay the full fees.

It is often a widely held concept that many of these parents live on and have a huge "inherited" wealth; however this may not always be the case. It is true that some are using “old money” but other parents have huge earnings and use some of this to get what they see as a good education.

London has many private schools were fees can be very high but often passing the entrance exam (often called the 11+ exam) can gain some form of scholarship which will reduce fees quite dramatically. With two or more children in private education these costs can spiral ever upwards.

So how do those who are not extremely rich meet the costs?   

How parents fund these fees vary from parent to parent. The first port of call is usually having their child sit a variety of entrance exams or the elevenplus exam because success in the eleven plus can reduce fees quite dramatically.

Home preparation or private tuition can increase a child’s chances of success in these challenging selection tests. Parents are willing to spend a lot of money on preparing for these exams and are often spending hundreds if not thousands of pounds on verbal reasoning and non-verbal reasoning practice materials. A new area of spend is using the internet for onlineelevenplusexams practice. Parents really can feel that this is an expensive but worthwhile use of money.

If a child doesn’t pass their eleven plus despite all the preparation funding can come from other sources. It is not uncommon for both parents to work and for the parents to live on the father's income and use the mother's income to pay the fees.

In other cases grandparents pay the school fees perhaps more so if they had their own children in private school and want the same for their grandchildren

Yet another case is where the parents literally spend every penny on school fees and have sacrificed all other spend on holidays and other consumables.

Some parents reckoned that if annual school fees cost around £30 000 and to pay it out of your wages as well as a mortgage, food, clothes and other essentials you need to be earning, between you, at least £115,000+ and even then you may be spending half your income on fees!  

While 7% is an average and the proportion in prep schools may be much lower than that, the numbers in 6th form are pushing 20%. There is often no automatic transfer from the prep school to the “big school” and often the only way is by selection in other words the elevenplus exam and this is where parents will spend on preparation, tutoring or online elevenplus exams practice.

There is no 'typical' way of paying private school fees and there are stories of fathers who worked days and drove cabs until the early hours and weekends to finance a decent education.

With these high costs many parents opt for state grammar schools which have no annual fees or small fees but entrance to these schools is almost always by means of the elevenplus exam selection test and parents are aware that preparation for the eleven plus is crucial and many parents ask How do I prepare for the Elevenplus exam?

Clearly there are massive differences in the wealth of parents who send their child to private school but for many paying for private education is completely out of the question no matter how much they scrimp and save.

The next best option may be a place in a state grammar school with elevenplus selection a key element.


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