Costs to Consider for Schooling in the UK

                                                                            By: Ann Dinsdale, GMS,

*This article is the seventh part of an 8 part series on the UK schooling system.  See the foot of this article for links to the other 7 parts.*

Next up in our UK Schooling series is what costs you’ll need to consider for schools in the UK.  Primarily impacting these figures are the type of school you’ve chosen for your child between state, independent and international. 

For example, we’ve broken down the total annual differences below:

Average Annual Cost of a Place at:

  • Independent boarding school – £30,000 
  • Independent day school - £18,000 

Additionally, if you’ve chosen a non-fee-paying school you’ll still need to factor in items such as food, transport, technology and extra-curricular activities. 

Tuition Fees (if applicable)

Depending on what type of school you’ve selected there may be fairly substantial tuition fees involved for your child to attend.  This is the case with private (‘independent’ in the UK) and international schools. 

Expats should expect to pay on average GBP 3,000 to GBP 6,000 per term for independent schools.  Most private schools do offer a limited number of scholarships for students who are particularly gifted. 

Fees charged at international schools in the United Kingdom are hefty and can reach up to GBP 10,000 per term. 

Housing (if applicable)

Boarding schools are more common in the UK than the US and charge fees that include room and board and sometimes food, most recreation activities, basic laundry and textbooks.  ‘Extras’ such as music lessons, horse riding, dry cleaning, etc. are not included in this fee.

While fees vary from school to school, the average boarding fees per term for pupils at senior boarding schools is £9,895.  Prep boarding school fees are a little less, at an average of £7,287 per term.  The fees for boarding schools can be as high as GBP 12,000 per term

Fees are payable in advance and overseas account holders may be required to give a substantial deposit, generally one term’s fees.  Fees are charged per term; invoices are sent out before the beginning of term, and the fees should be paid in full by the first day of term.  Many schools offer a variety of payment methods, ranging from lump-sum payments to monthly direct debit.  All schools require at least one term’s notice of withdrawal of a child, otherwise another term’s fees may be payable.


Most UK schools require you to provide your own transportation, unlike the free bus system with public schools in the US.  If you live in an urban area and cannot walk to the school you’ll have to add in the cost of an Oyster card or travel pass for your child to use public transport like the bus or tube.  Additionally, assuming you don’t have a car in the city, you may choose to take a cab to do the school drop off which can add up quickly.

  • On average, estimate about £525 per annum for transport to and from school.

Extracurricular Activities

If your child attends a boarding or independent school some of their extracurriculars may already be covered by the initial set of fees.  If not, or if they’re participating in a unique activity, these fees are paid separately.

Recent research has found that for primary school students that do, on average, 3 activities the average monthly spent is around £275 in London and £200 in the rest of the UK.  It goes down a bit for secondary school students as they average 2 activities with fees around £150 per month in London and £110 in the rest of the UK.

Uniforms & Technology

Nearly all schools in the UK require students to wear uniforms.  The average total expenditure on school uniform is £212.88.  This was less expensive for those in primary school (£192.14 for boys and £201.04 for girls) than in secondary school (£231.01 for boys and £239.93 for girls).

The average total expenditure on PE kit is £87.67.  This was less expensive for those in primary school (£66.23 for boys and £62.60 for girls) than in secondary school (£130.52 for boys and £103.63 for girls).

  • Additionally, you should estimate another £600 per year for technology (phones, tablets etc.).

Music Lessons

The average cost per music lesson in the UK is between £30-40.  Some tips to reduce cost include:

  • Talking to music teachers and asking if they give group lessons so parents can share the cost
  • Using a database such as to search for the tutor that suits them
  • Checking with their children's school to see if scholarships, cheap lessons, or cheap instrument hire are available
  • Going to the local music hub for information about lessons and instruments


The average cost for school lunches in the UK currently stands at $950 per annum.

On Average, How Much it Really Costs to go to a State Day School:

£2,744 for first year in primary school

£29,512 for whole of primary school

  • £6,794 for first year in secondary school
  • £2,792 for GCSE year in secondary school
  • £34,440 for whole of secondary school

It’s always important to plan your move overseas carefully, especially if you have children.  There are many things you need to cover at both ends of the move.  People moving abroad make big mistakes by failing to get good, independent advice and support.

As international relocation specialists, the experts at Saunders 1865 – The VIP Relocation Company – can help you avoid making the common mistakes and we can make sure you accomplish everything that needs to be done around:

  • Helping parents navigate the complex education systems
  • Relieving parents’ worries about finding the right schools & securing places
  • Providing a quick & efficient service that saves time & provides independent, objective advice

Why not arrange a free consultation with one of our relocation experts today?  Just message us using this Contact Form