MT Wealth: Coming to terms with rising school fees

Our quarterly series on personal finance, in association with UBS Wealth Management, looks at managing the costs of private education. Steve Lodge reports.

Putting the kids through independent school has long been one of the defining aspirations of the upper-middle classes. But it isn't getting any cheaper: surveys put the cost of raising a child to the age of 18 at £100,000 or more, and even this substantial sum excludes private education fees and typical university costs of around £30,000.

Sending a child to an independent school (the catch-all term for non-state schools) will cost an average of £8,388 in fees alone this academic year, according to research by Halifax Financial Services. And that's for day pupils - boarding fees now average £18,828 a year.

Fees have doubled in the past decade and continue to rise well ahead of inflation, so a private education could easily end up costing a six-figure sum in total. Although there are cheaper schools, particularly away from London and the south-east, and up to a third of children in effect pay reduced fees (see panel p67), even the Independent Schools Council Information Service (Iscis) concedes that a private education is a huge financial commitment for parents. Are the costs worth it and how can families minimise the pain?

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