Most schools quote fees by the term or the year. Annual figures can look horrific: the most expensive boarding schools now charge nearly £30k a year. Even the average fees for a 5-year-old are £6500 pa. Multiply that by the number of children you expect to have at independent school, and the number of years they will be there, and you may be a little surprised at the total expenditure you will be committed to.
- Day fees for secondary schools now range from about £2700 a term at a day school to £8000 a term as a day pupil at a boarding school. The average pupil costs about £3420 a term for day schools, £4900 for day pupils at a boarding school.
- Boarding fees range from around £5000 to some £9500 a term. The average pupil costs just under £8000 a term.
- Specialist schools (whether they are music schools or eg a school for the blind) cost much more – probably over £10k a term for a day pupil − but there is frequently financial help available.
The fees given in our school profiles are the most up-to-date at the time of going to press but you should check for the most up-to-date information. It is surprising that, in the first week in July, many school websites still had no mention of the fees to be charged at the start of the academic year in September.
And then there are extras – often some £200 a term, possibly much more. Parents are usually (but not always) charged extra for eg instrumental tuition, sports coaching and excursions (including those that are compulsory); less often for team transport to away matches, lunch for day pupils, exam fees and, increasingly, laptops. And then, of course, there is the uniform.
School fees almost certainly will go up each year but how much to plan for in the current volatile market is an open question. Last year (2008/09) fees rose by an average of 5.9%; next year the increase is likely to be a lot less. Who knows about the years to come? School fees are largely determined by staff costs.
The heavily endowed schools still charge very high fees but pay their staff well, have good facilities and a lot of scholarships. Schools charging very low fees may be constrained by low income.