Private schools: are they worth the extra cash?


Every parent wants great things for their children, but is investing in private schooling the right option, or is it just a needless waste of valuable cash?


The cost of private schooling varies between each institution. According to the BBC, the average is around £14,000 per year, rising to £27,600 for boarders. These fees have been rising for some time, and research by the Financial Times suggests that private schools are now beyond the reach of most middle class professionals like engineers, solicitors and academics. For those who fall out of the "rich" category, clever money management is required to guarantee a spot.

It's important to note that there are ways to reduce fees. Scholarships for high achievers can cover as much as 50% of the cost, and means-tested bursaries and educational charities also offer support. What's more, This Is Money has found that some parents are even resorting to haggling to get the price down, with this method resulting in some success.

Looking closer to home, re-organising your finances can reveal quick and clever ways to save money. Using our free Money Dashboard budgeting software, for example, you can label and track your spending across all areas, helping you to identify and monitor outgoings as you adjust your spending habits.

Why bother?

Of course, the ability to access a private education for your children doesn't mean it's worth doing. It's first crucial to assess the value of a private education.

Looking at the GCSE results in 2013, 21 independent schools reported A/A* rates over 90%. Just four state schools performed the same feat. Likewise, four of the top 10 performing schools at A-level were independent schools - an impressive statistic considering the comparative scarcity of these institutions.

So, while it is possible to find state schools that achieve top marks in key exams, independent schools do seem to be better represented among the top grades.

One potential reason for this, and another factor to consider, is the smaller average class sizes at many independent schools. According to HMC, a body representing a collection of leading private schools, their members average nine pupils to every teacher. In state schools, the average is 22. This means that students who aren't performing at a higher level are more likely to receive special attention to improve their performance than their state peers.

Those in support of private schools also point towards the alumni network. Around half of the UK cabinet was educated privately, and previous research by education charity The Sutton Trust has found similar figures across numerous high profile professions, from high court judges to FTSE 100 chief executives. It's possible to link these statistics to educational performance, but having alumni connections in powerful places is undoubtedly a draw.

Do you have experience in dealing with private schools? Or do you think that state schooling is the way forward? Let us know in the comments below!


Posted by Marc Murphy, Marketing Manager at Money Dashboard.



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