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The cost of private schooling continues to rise – we break down the numbers.

The cost of private education has risen dramatically, making it harder for many to afford. The rise of private school fees has far outpaced growth in middle-class incomes.

Research by the Financial Times found that between 2003 and 2013, wages of traditional middle-class professions, like engineering, law and academia, contracted in real terms by 1.7%. During the same period, fees at private schools like Alleyn’s and Westminster rose by 49% and 38% in real terms.

Sending two children to private school between the ages of four and 18 now costs £610,000 on average, which is putting many families under pressure. In fact, research conducted by Lloyds Bank found that 37% of parents with children in private education had considered moving them to a state school because of the high costs.

Help on hand

The cost of sending your children to private school may be extremely high but financial support is often available. The Independent Schools Council found that 33% of all pupils were receiving financial help with school fees in 2015, totalling more than £800 million – a 7.3% increase on last year.

While scholarships are based on merit, bursaries are awarded according to financial need. Both can be a great help in cutting down the cost of private education.

The alternatives

If private schooling from age 4 to 18 is simply too expensive, you could send your child to a state school until the age of 8 and save £94,000, which you can then invest for private schooling after the age of 8.

Alternatively, you can send your child to state school and supplement their education with private tutoring. The Sutton Trust found that nearly a quarter of secondary state school pupils in England and Wales receive extra tutoring.

Saving for private education

If you’re planning to educate your child privately, the earlier you start saving or investing the better.

Investing this money in an individual savings account (ISA) is a good place to start, as it’s a tax-efficient way to save. For the 2015-16 tax year, you can invest £15,240 in an ISA, and choose how and whether to spread this across a cash ISA or a stocks and shares ISA.

If your family is keen to help, that could be another good option. Each grandparent can gift up to £3,000 a year that’s exempt from inheritance tax. And they can also set up a ‘bare’ trust, which can be a tax efficient way to save money that you can then access immediately – as and when you need it.

Whichever option you choose, the earlier you start saving the more you’re likely to benefit.

Risk warning 

As with all investing, your capital is at risk. The value of your portfolio with Nutmeg can go down as well as up and you may get back less than you invest. A stocks and shares ISA may not be right for everyone and tax rules may change in the future. If you are unsure if an ISA is the right choice for you, please seek independent financial advice. Tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances and may be subject to change in the future.


1, 2. The Financial Times: Private school fees rocket out of reach for the ‘cling-ons’ – 21st February 2014
3. ISC Census, 2015
4. The Sutton Trust, Research Brief: Extra-curricular inequality – September 2014