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  1. Wealth
July 31, 2013

Even the 1 Per Cent can't afford private school fees any more

By Spear's

School fees have risen ten times faster than income since 2010

A fascinating, disturbing figure hit my inbox just now, from wealth managers FF&P: school fees have risen ten times faster than income since 2010, so even the 1 Per Cent can’t afford to send their kids to fee-paying schools any longer.

According to FF&P Wealth Planning, ‘Incomes of those earning between £100,000 and £499,999 per annum have risen by an average of just 0.5 per cent per annum over the last three years, from £167,387 in 2010/11 to £169,711 in 2013/14.

‘Over the same three-year period, private schools fees have increased by 4.4 per cent per annum, from an average termly cost of £4,186 in 2010 to £4,765 in 2013.’ This means that well-off professionals are ceding places to foreign UHNWs.

I’d argue that this underestimates the problem: as Spear’s has reported previously, day school fees have risen by 87 per cent in a decade and boarding school fees by 77 per cent – to £25,000 a year. And that’s not even the very top schools, where you easily pay over £30,000 a year.

FF&P also calculate that at current rates of fee inflation, ‘To privately educate two children, born two years apart, would cost on average £454,000 over the next 15 years. At the top end of the scale, a day school primary education and a boarding school secondary education for two children would cost closer to £700,000 for the 15 years.’

Some of London’s top private schools – including Westminster (pictured above) and St Paul’s – do offer fee assistance (this website helpfully brings them together) but they are never likely to be able to offer means-blind support for more than a few pupils. (The University of Oxford is aiming at means-blind support for as many as need.)

A good education is our best engine of social mobility and as the world’s finest schools recede from the grasp not just of the regular middle class but even those earning multiples of the average wage, we should be seriously worried.

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