British Middle Class Can’t Afford Private Education, Study Finds


A new study of British education by investment advisers Killik & Co says that the cost of day private education has more than tripled since 1990, making it almost unaffordable as pathway for the British middle class.  The average cost of private education, which is at £236,000 if invested otherwise, could return about £800,000 over that child’s lifetime, Killik explains.

“With such a large sum potentially at stake, it makes sense for parents to ask whether the amounts that they would have invested in their children’s education could not be better invested to set them up financially for life, while sending their children to a good state school,” the research report highlights.

Using a hypothetical family of two children who started private schooling in 2013 and 2015, Killik report that the total cost of private education could amount to £890,000 should current trends remain unchanged.

“Even with two parents working, as fees outpace earnings, many professionals are now unable to afford private schooling,” the report comments.

London is the most expensive region for private education with average annual private schooling places at £15,500.

The study urges its clients to send their children to state primary schools in order to reduce the financial burden of private schooling has. In 25 years, the rise in the cost of education has exceeded that of wages and the rate of inflation, the report emphasizes.

With an average day school fee at £13,000, parents today have to pay 340% more than their counterparts did back in 1990.

“The proportion of a typical doctor’s disposable income accounted for by the costs of schooling is now 38%, compared with just 17% in 1990. A typical accountant would have 59% of his or her disposable income eaten by school fees, compared with 26% 25 years ago,”  the Guardian says explaining the sharp cost increase of private education.

For middle-class parents, the cost of sending two children to private schools is close to £1 million, and as the Killik & Co investors say, “professional families risk being priced out of private schooling”.

“Private education is not going to be viable for everybody. For some it will make much more sense to opt for a good state school and invest the money elsewhere,” Sarah Lord, managing director of Killik Financial Planners said.

“Indeed, fourteen years of day school fees from 2015 could be invested over this time to build a potential sum of around £800,000, which would help children later on in life, whether that be funding university, buying a house, or securing a comfortable retirement.”

Private education cost is at its least affordable in five decades, the report concludes. To offer a child a fourteen-year-long day fee private education, a family needs £286,000 on average. For students attending boarding schools the average cost is £468,000. Sara Robinson says the cost is  “eye watering for many families.”