For parents choosing a school for their child, the decision is no longer a formality. With every parent wanting the best for their children, finding the right establishment has become more important than ever.
Academic record, quality of facilities, standards of behaviour and location are all taken into account, however one thing most parents will not be concerning themselves with is cost. That is, of course, because the idea of sending a child to a private school isn’t even a consideration for the majority, rather a practice deemed exclusively for the elite – but should it be?
The Benefits of a Private School
Naturally, to warrant the high costs associated, a private education offers sizeable benefits.
Typically, independent schools will offer first rate facilities, including great libraries and top-end specialist resources for areas such as the arts, technology and sports. School admissions management is strictly limited, so class sizes tend to be significantly smaller than standard schools, meaning pupils benefit from more one-to-one attention and tailored resources.
Private schools offer invaluable alumni networks, giving students otherwise unreachable access to top-end job opportunities and heavily increasing the chances of them enjoying notable professional success. Furthermore, a lot of the top private schools offer full boarding as an option, meaning students will be fully immersed in the school experience, whilst removing typical home childcare costs for parents.
How Much Does It Cost?
Of course, the part where most get stuck with the idea of a private education is the cost element, and there’s no denying that putting a child through a top school or college comes with its share of financial strain.
Towards the end of last year, ‘This is Money’ estimated the cost of sending a child through private school (years 1-13) at £275,000, at an average of £17,232 a year or £5,744 a term.
In Northern Ireland, day fees can average anywhere from £120-£12,360 with boarding fees usually sitting between £12,120-£20,460. Rockport School in Country Down is the most expensive of the NI-based independents, where day and boarding fees can peak at £15,810 and £26,160 respectively.
This is, however, small fry compared to some of England’s historical schools, with Cheltenham Ladies College costing over £40,000 per annum and the likes of Tonbridge, Harrow and Eton in amongst the UK top 10, all of which cost over £35,000 a year to attend.
Is It Worth It?
The question of whether an independent school is ‘worth it’ is completely circumstantial, and with the average total cost of a private education equating to over ten times the average UK salary, it’s fair to say it’s still mostly a consideration for the middle classes and above.
There’s no doubt that the platform a private school provides, particularly in the exposure to first class academics and key professional networks, will give students the best chance to succeed in life. However, only the individual can decide whether the costs attached make sense for them and their child.