Scots private school fees soar 20% in five years

Fettes in Edinburgh costs �31,245 a year for a senior boarding pupil. Picture: Scott Louden
Fettes in Edinburgh costs �31,245 a year for a senior boarding pupil. Picture: Scott Louden
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Private school fees in Scotland have risen above by almost 20 per cent in the past five years, outstripping the inflation, a report has revealed.

The typical annual fee north of the border is now £10,773, up 19 per cent from £9,048 in 2010, according to analysis by Lloyds Bank, which warned that some professionals are forking out a third of their income for each child’s fees.

Schools are sensitive to sacrifices parents make

John Edward

Inflation by the Retail Price Index measure has risen by 17 per cent over the same period.

The report said that as a result of school fee inflation, there are now several relatively well paid occupations such as pharmacists, vets, civil engineers and opticians, where someone on the average earnings for that occupation would be now be paying over a third of their gross annual earnings in school fees.

The report found that the UK-wide average private school fee of £12,864 is equivalent to 38 per cent of annual average gross full-time earnings of £34,015. Meanwhile, in 2010 the comparable ratio was 33 per cent.

However, Scotland’s fees remain among the lowest in the UK, just behind the north, where a year at private school costs £10,359.

In 2010, there were just four regions where the average annual fee exceeded £10,000 - now all areas of the UK stand above that level.

Sarah Deaves, private banking director at Lloyds Bank, said: “It is more important than ever that parents start to think about their finances and plan ahead.”

UK-wide, the total number of day pupils at private schools is largely unchanged compared to five years ago with around 450,000 registered pupils. While the number of senior school pupils - those aged 11 to 16 - has fallen by four per cent, pupils in the other age groups have increased.

The number of children in nursery schools has grown by 13 per cent, while those in junior school rose by four per cent.

John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools, said: “Independent schools in Scotland are sensitive to the sacrifices that many parents make in order to afford school fees and strive to do their upmost to deliver the best for their children and young people in a climate where fixed costs like salaries, pensions and utilities are going up all the time.”

The report found the number of pupils at the Independent Schools Council’s (ISC) member schools who receive a financial contribution towards their school fees reached 167,798 in 2015, a four per cent increase on 2010 and accounting for 39.5 per cent of all pupils at ISC schools.

Among the most expensive schools is Gordonstoun, in Moray, where Prince Charles was educated, which charges £23,658 a year for standard day fees and £35,160 for boarders. Fettes in Edinburgh, where Tony Blair studied, costs £31,245 a year for a senior boarding pupil.