The financial implications of taking a school place for Year 7 entry vary enormously, so it is worth taking some time to think through your options here and what they will mean for you and your child. Many parents will enter their child for both state-selective grammar and private day school entrance exams. Certain grammar schools (e.g. Tiffin in Kingston) achieve results that far surpass those of many fee-paying schools, so unsurprisingly places here are in high demand. That being said, its not always a completely free ride: house prices in Kingston and Richmond-upon-Thames are higher due to Tiffin’s influence. Do think about the personal and social cost to yourself and your children. We’ve heard stories of parents driving their children for several hours a day; these children will likely have less friends in their immediate geographic area.
The cost of sending your child to a fee-paying day school can vary enormously in London. When you consider the fact that most people going down this route will do the same for two or more children, and that these fees go up every year, this is a huge sacrifice for any family to make. A typical fully-private education for two children can cost more than the average house in London. It therefore isn’t surprising that organisations now exist solely to help parents plan and save for private education.
All schools offer scholarships and bursaries in some shape or form, both to ease the pressure and help them attract potentially high-achieving students. A bursary is at best a small contribution when compared to the annual fees of these schools, and is generally a grant paid to those who couldn’t afford it otherwise, to be awarded at the school’s discretion. A scholarship is awarded for high-achievement in academics or extra-curricular activity such as sport or music. Scholarships are a broad spectrum, running all the way from the Eton King’s scholarship (entitling ten boys a year to a fully-funded education, with their own flat and personal butler) to what can really only be described as a small discount. (A one-third discount, which is the highest-level scholarship on offer at one leading London school, still leaves parents with a bill of over £20,000 a year). That isn’t to say that these scholarships aren’t useful or even essential for parents struggling to pay school fees, but do be aware that most scholarships are far from a free ride.
With many private schools placing huge emphasis on extra-curricular activities, it isn’t surprising that many scholarships are awarded for music and sport. Winners of these are often given a fairly substantial discount of around one-third of fees, and are expected to contribute significantly towards these activities when at the school. Be aware that if your child wins one of these, they will be expected to spend a good deal of time playing in orchestras or sports teams, so do make sure they will be happy to do this.
Some schools with entry at Eleven Plus have boarding facilities. Whether you want your child to board is another huge decision, but do be aware that some schools (e.g. Rugby) only take boarders from 13 plus, despite having entry for day pupils at Eleven Plus. There are several levels of boarding, with weekly boarding (where your child stays at school on weekdays and then returns home on weekends) and full boarding (where your child stays in school at weekends as well) the most common. Boarding can become expensive, with fees for schools with entry at Eleven Plus typically costing £24,000 upwards.