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July 15, 2015

Professionals risk being priced out of private schools, as fees continue to rise

  • Average day and boarding school fees now cost £13,194 and £30,369 respectively
  • Fees have more than trebled since 1990, and continue to rise above inflation
  • Professionals unable to afford private education as fee increases outpace earnings
  • London pushes ahead as the most expensive place to send your children to private school, while the North of England offers the lowest fees


New research from private client stockbroker and wealth manager Killik & Co and the Centre for Economics and Business Research[i], reveals how more parents are at risk of being priced out of the private school system following ongoing fee increases.


Independent day school fees have risen by £471 in 2015, up from £12,723 to £13,194, while boarding schools now stand at £30,369 per year. This increase means the average day school fee is now 342% higher than it was in 1990, and could rise by a further 105% by 2028, if current trends continue. Over an education of fourteen years, the total cost of day school now stands at around £286,000, up from £271,000 in 2014, while total average boarding costs have risen from £435,000 to £468,000 over the last year.


Despite spiralling costs, the prestige of private schools remains important for many parents[ii]. In a survey of parents who privately educate their children, over a third (37.2%) said they see private education as an ‘investment priority’ with 34% stating that the attraction of smaller class sizes was a major consideration.


Almost a quarter said they sent their children to private school for ‘the connections my children will get’ (24.8%) and ‘either myself or a member of my family went there’ (18%), showing the strong role that tradition and reputation has to play in these decisions.


Even with two parents working, as fees outpace earnings, many professionals are now unable to afford private schooling. With total annual costs now worth 38% of a doctor’s disposable salary and 59% of an accountant’s, it is clear that many professionals who traditionally sent their children to private school may struggle. For members of the clergy, the outlook is concerning, as by 2028 it is expected that 122% of their income would be taken up by private school fees.


The regional gap has also widened across the UK, with London remaining the most expensive region and also rising at the fastest rate (from £14,800 in 2014 to £15,500 in 2015). The South East is home to the second most expensive day schools in the country, costing the average parent £14,350, while the North of England and Scotland offer the lowest fees, coming in at £10,400 and £10,750 respectively.


Parents not only need to think about whether they can afford fees in the first year but whether they can continue to do so throughout their child’s education up to the completion of A-Levels when the total cost of education could be eighteen times the initial yearly fee, given the cumulative increase.


Sarah Lord, Managing Director of Killik Chartered Financial Planners, comments:



“The cost of private education is eye watering for many families. However, over a third of parents responded that investment in education is one of the best investments they can make. One thing is clear, meeting the costs of a private education needs careful planning as early as possible and families should investigate all the options – whether that be through a bursary, staying at ‘state school until 8’ or by asking grandparents for help”.


Of course, private education is not going to be viable for everybody. For some it will make much more sense to opt for a good state school and invest the money elsewhere. Indeed, fourteen years of day school fees from 2015 could be invested over this time to build a potential sum of around £800,000, which would help children later on in life, whether that be funding university, buying a house, or securing a comfortable retirement.”


Killik & Co has provided a free online tool to help parents calculate the savings required to cover future school fee payments and plan for their families’ financial futures. Parents can try out the school fees planning calculator here.


MHP Communications
James Baker / Tess Harris
+44 (0)20 3128 8100

Killik & Co
Daniel Aitkenhead

+44(0)207 337 0529




                                         Killik Private Education Index | By Numbers
£286,000 Average cost of sending one child to a private day school starting in 2015
£553,000 Average cost of sending two children to a private day school (2013–2026 and 2015–2028)
£468,000 Average cost of sending one children to a private school if boarding from 13 onwards, starting 2015
£890,000 Average cost of sending two children to a private school if boarding from 13 onwards (2013–2026 and 2015–2028)
£13,200  Average private school day fees in 2015
£27,000 Average cost of private day school in 2028 if recent trends persist
38  Percentage of the average doctor’s salary that would be required to pay for private school fees for a single child in 2015
342 Percentage increase in private day school fees since 1990
£97,000 Reduction in cost of education to be made from sending one child to ‘State until 8’ versus private day school throughout
£3,000 Average spend on educational extras for each child e.g. music lessons, sports kit in 2015


The reasons parents gave for sending their children to private school
Investment in education is a priority for me 37.2%
Smaller class sizes 34.0%
The connections my children will get 24.8%
Either myself or a member of my family went there 18.8%
I would have concerns sending them to a state school 17.6%
High profile alumni 15.2%
It excelled in extracurricular activities i.e. sport / the arts 11.6%
Nearest school to our home 9.2%
They won a scholarship 8.0%
We could afford it so why not 6.4%
We knew other parents that spoke highly of it 5.2%
None of the above 4.8%
Grandparents were offering to pay the fees 2.8%
To keep up appearances 1.6%
All my child’s friends were attending that school 1.2%


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