According to the Good Schools Guide
“Approximately 7% of children in education are at fee-paying (independent) schools. Fees range from under £3,000 per annum to £21,000 and above for a day pupil, with wide variations depending on the age of the child, the staff/pupil ratio and so on – and can top £30,000 per year for boarding.”
For the vast majority of us the idea of paying £21 000 per year, for something we can get for free, is an impossible idea. For most of us that’s our annual income or close to our annual income swallowed in one fell swoop.
Yet can we afford to ignore the opportunities offered by private schools. In the current parliament, 33% of MPs went to independent schools 20% of all Olympic athletes are alumni of a school that charges for entry and no one can deny the networking and other opportunities offered by being educated alongside the nations wealthy and elite.
It may seem that those of us in the percentage of the population that earns a more normal wage, the opportunity to allow our children to pass through those gates of opportunity are physically and metaphorically closed.
Yet there is a ray of hope, according to Steve McCormack writing in the Independent in 2011 “A recent report from the Independent Schools Council revealed that about a third of all pupils attending it’s schools received financial help of some sort.”
Take a look at the website of the independent school in your area and you may be in for a pleasant surprise. The Glasgow Academy, to take one example, offers bursaries of between 10-100% of the fees for families earning below £63 000 with one child attending the senior school.
So why isn’t every child attending fee paying schools? For many people unable to move into the areas of a top performing state school, there are fantastic fee paying schools in their immediate area. In areas where average school achievement is far below the national average, there are bright lights of schools that select only the best, offer a fantastic education and even better opportunities. But yes there is a catch.
These schools only take the best students, be that in sports, music or academic abilities. To even be offered a place, never mind a scholarship or bursary, your child needs to be performing in the top percentage of the country, and be a good all-rounder. Sadly, this may be difficult to achieve in a primary school that is performing below par themselves.
You can however take control of this situation. Consider group revision classes, or hiring a one to one tutor that specializes in the 11+ exam and similar. If they already excel in one area, say sport or music, hire a specialist to bring up the other areas of their education. This investment in the future now can really pay off in the future if they can get a place in an ideal school, taking the pressure off you to move home, start practicing a religion, or otherwise fight your way into a better education for your child.