School Fees

Now the children are all back at school I thought it would be topical to look at school fees planning. There are now more than 500,000 pupils attending fee paying schools in UK. Based on the latest census published by Independent Schools Council which represents over 1,200 schools in UK. There are more than 70,000 boarding, many with their parents abroad.

Why are more people sending their children to a fee paying school and more specifically: what is the attraction of boarding school and what financial costs are involved?

Smaller class sizes and better average results are often cited as reasons for sending children to fee paying schools. However not every jurisdiction in which expatriates live allow children access to free education. Historically, expatriates in the UAE would only stay for a few years. Therefore, if their children lived with them they would want them to continue to study the curriculum of their home country. Consequently, when the posting came to an end the student would not be disadvantaged on return to their home country. In UAE especially, there are a very wide range of different schools available teaching many different curricula. Those longer term expats who have careers that span the globe with a few years in each location often prefer to put their children in boarding school in their home country. This provides an element of stability particularly during senior school when important examinations need to be taken. There is also a school of thought which believes growing up in UAE does not expose children to the ‘real world’ and they may feel they lack cultural roots. The view here being: a few years in their home country in a boarding school can help ‘ground’ children in reality and teach independence.

Whilst significant variations occur throughout the UK, the Independent Schools Council census for 2015 states average day student pays around £12,900 per annum, about AED75,000 at current exchange rates. Those students who are on a full board basis pay an average £30,000 per annum, about AED172,500. Last year fees increased by 3.5% which is the lowest increase in more than 20 years but still significantly ahead of UK inflation over the same period.

Most parents must plan for many years in advance of sending their child to a boarding school. Whilst bursaries do exist it would not be prudent to assume qualification and they rarely cover all costs.

If your son or daughter has just been born and you would like them to attend a fee paying school in UK on a full board basis starting when they are 11 and finishing when they are 18 you should start saving now. Making a judgement about how much to save means estimating rates of investment return, exchange rates, starting capital, inflation, product charges as well as your view on risk and reward, budget and more. All of these things may change over time. At present assuming no starting capital, I estimate you will need to save between £1,100 and £1,600 per month from now until your son or daughter leaves school. Then there are university costs…

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.