Private education can leave parents in the North with £125,000 bill but it’s more expensive down South

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PARENTS IN the North face a bill of more than £125,000 to have their children privately educated - but this was lower than anywhere else in the country amid the soaring cost of fees in recent years.

And nationally the average cost of an independent education for a day pupil who started reception in 2003 and left after sixth form in 2016 was £156,653, research by Lloyds Bank Private Banking has found.

Annual fees have almost doubled in that time, with the average cost of sending a child to private school for a year rocketing from £7,308 in 2003 to £13,341 today, a rise of 83 per cent.

Figures published today show that parents in the North however paid the least, at £126,609 for 13 years of fees.

And in London parents have seen fees rise by 25 per cent in the last five years alone.

But costs have risen far more than average earnings, putting an enormous strain on families who want to choose private education for their children.

School fees rocketed by an average of 21 per cent over the last five years, up from £10,983 in 2011 - an increase that is eight per cent above inflation.

The steep hike means that the £13,341 school fee accounts for almost 40 per cent of the average full time earnings of £34,545, a marked change from in 2003 when fees amounted for 28 per cent of earnings.

Despite the increasing financial burden on families, pupil numbers at private schools remain largely unchanged over the last five years.

Those going to senior school - between the ages of 11 and 16 - have fallen by three per cent, but numbers going to private sixth forms have grown by ten per cent, and those at junior schools have gone up by six per cent.

Sarah Deaves, private banking director at Lloyds Bank, said: “All parents want the best for their children and a good education is no exception.

“A place at a private school is a huge financial commitment, almost an eye-watering £157,000 for just one child, from reception to finishing the sixth form as a day pupil.

“With average annual fees at £13,341 per child and the compulsory school leaving age now 18 years, many families may well feel some strain.

“It has, therefore, become increasingly important that parents, and sometimes grandparents, plan their finances as early as possible if they want a private school education for their children.”

The research, based on data from the Independent Schools Council and the Office for National Statistics, showed that private schooling in London was the most expensive in Britain, costing £179,145 to educate children from the age of five until they are 18.

Parents in the North paid the least, at £126,609 for 13 years of fees.

In London, school fees have almost doubled since 2003, rising 97 per cent from £8,016 to £15,828 today, compared to the lowest increase over the same period in the West Midlands, a rise of 66 per cent from £6,984 to £11,580.

But there is help for parents, with around 160,000 children getting assistance for their fees - almost a third of all pupils at fee-paying schools, not just day pupils - that is worth more than £850 million a year.

The vast majority of this assistance, 85 per cent, comes from schools themselves.