Whether your child is enrolled at the local primary school or boarding at a private academy, all parents know that there is no such thing as free education. From the cost of a uniform or school trip to the cost of room and board, every parent of a school age child must set aside a budget for education.
State sponsored education, through local primary and secondary schools, does not require formal school fees for students enrolled in these institutions. Students attending independent schools, however, will need to enquire about the school’s fee structure. In general, independent school fees include (per annum):
- £2,500 – £7,500 for primary, day school students
- £8,000 – £14,000 for primary, boarding students
- £5,000 – £9,000 for secondary, day school students
- £13,000 – £17,000 for secondary, boarding students
- £1,500 – £2,000 per subject at private, GCSE tutorial colleges
- £2,500 – £4,500 per subject at private, A Level tutorial colleges
Payment Methods for School Fees
Most independent schools offer a variety of methods for parents to pay school fees. These often include:
- Composition fees – a lump sum made at the time that the child starts at the school. This method usually offers a discount.
- Per term payments – many parents choose to pay for each term separately.
- Monthly payments – some schools now offer parents the ability to pay monthly, rather than per term.
Assistance with School Fees
Most independent schools offer some form of assistance to students unable to pay full school fees, including:
- Scholarships – scholarships are generally offered in secondary schools and usually cover up to 50% of fees. Scholarships are often awarded to students who have passed the entrance examinations and show unusual talents in:
- Bursaries – bursaries are often awarded to the children of former pupils, and they are rarely awarded according to academic merit. Instead, bursaries are frequently awarded to students who have parents in the:
- Armed or defence forces
- Teaching profession or academia
- Grants – local and national governments, some charities, professional organisations and a variety of multinational companies often give grants to students for whom local education is not the most appropriate option. Many students who receive grants are:
- The children of parents working overseas.
- Gifted artists and musicians requiring special arts/performing arts schools.
- Children granted refugee or asylum seeker status.
- Students requiring special education.
Even for students at state sponsored schools, a variety of hidden fees will undoubtedly add up. Consider that students will be responsible for:
- Sports gear
- Personal sports equipment
- School lunches and snacks
- Music lessons
- Extra tutorials
- School trips
- Backpacks and gym bags
Education, even at the lowest levels, is big business in the UK. Billions of pounds are spent each year on school supplies and school fees, and it is virtually impossible for any parent to escape this spending spree. When it comes time for your little one to go to school, remember to shop around for the best deals, inquire about second hand supplies, and buy in bulk. With a little luck, you’ll still have something in your pocket as you wave the kids back to school!