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Private education: how feesible is it?

The average parents pay in school fees for their children to go to a private school averages £4,393 a term, according to the Independent Schools Council.

With money tight, this is a pretty penny indeed, and with increases to school fees above the rate of inflation and the economic situation to contend with, parents are beginning to box clever with their offspring's education.

Some parents are choosing to send only one child through the private education mill, while others are opting to use the private system as a finishing school; sending their kids there for the last two years before university.

'Families are being forced to make extremely tough decisions in the current economic climate, as inflationary pressures erode monies available for discretionary spending on private education,' says Robin Stoakley, managing director of Schroders’ UK Intermediary Business. He recommends investing in funds that can deliver yields above the rate of inflation. Easier said than done perhaps.

Educating one child privately and another not may seem a mite unfair to some parents, and could have family repercussions later in life. Janette Wallis, editor of the Good Schools Guide, has observed that many families are instead opting to save more: 'We have seen lots of people save money by targeting their spending,' she says. 'It’s perfectly possible to send a child private for two years – age 14 to 16 – and then move them on to a state sixth form.'

She added: 'Parents should think more in terms of equivalency of experience, rather than parcelling out the exact same experience to each child. So, if for example there is a good boys’ grammar school in your area that your son can attend, but no equivalent for girls, then it may make sense to pay for your daughter to attend a private school, while taking advantage of state provision for your son.

Money can be saved and a bit extra be made available to the son for tutoring or similar educational add-ons. So long as it is discussed openly and both children are content there’s no cause for guilt.'

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