Is it Worth Paying for Private Schools and Which Are the Best?


  1. Is it worth paying for private school?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of private schools?
  3. Why are private schools better UK?
  4. Which are the best private schools in UK?
  5. How much do private schools cost UK?

In this article, we’re going to delve into the world of private schools. From Eton to Harrow, private schools have long been synonymous with prestige. We’re going to share all the details including how much private schools really cost to attend and answer your questions such as 'why are private schools so expensive'?


Is it worth paying for private school?


This age-long debate should really come down to the individual and finding the right school for your kid. Private schools will typically have better resources and facilities which many parents believe is worth the extra cost. There will often be a greater choice for students when it comes to subjects and also extra-curricular activities which hold its appeal. 

However, just attending a private school doesn’t necessarily guarantee better grades or entry into a prestigious university like Oxford. Since they are usually highly competitive, academically-gifted students can benefit greatly though. Private schools are also often desirable for children with learning difficulties. 


What are the advantages and disadvantages of private schools?


Private schools have plenty of advantages and disadvantages over state schools.

Here are some of the main advantages:

  • Smaller class sizes mean that students receive more attention
  • Alternative effective teaching methods are more common
  • Provide networking opportunities
  • Better resources available including the latest technology 

Here are some of the main disadvantages:

  • Often expensive which may be prohibitive or become a financial burden on a family
  • More competition can lead to extra pressure on kids
  • Religious beliefs may be aligned with the school that you don’t believe in 
  • Can be harder to get into

Why are private schools better UK?


Private schools are generally better because they have more funds to put towards resources. This is what leads to better pupil-teacher ratios, a wider range of extra-curricular activities, and can mean more fulfilling classes for students. 😊

Are all private schools expensive?

All private schools cost more than state schools. How much a private school charge is down to them so the fees vary drastically. As you would expect, the more well-known institutions tend to charge more. We’ve dedicated an entire section later in the article that looks at what you can expect to pay.

What is considered expensive comes down to individual families though. Some wouldn’t flinch at paying double the average salary each year in fees whereas most obviously can’t even entertain the idea. For this reason, consider what’s within your means and know that there are still great options that cost less or nothing at all.

How do most people pay for a private school?

Most people pay for private schools out of their own pocket. For some, this doesn’t make a dent in their wages or savings but for many parents careful planning is essential. It’s not uncommon for parents to set up an investment plan and start saving before their children are even born. 💷

How do middle-class families afford private schools?

Middle-class families pay for private schools in various ways. For many two-parent households, they use the wage of one parent to pay for school fees and the other wage for living expenses e.g. mortgage and food. Some may have to top any gaps in school fees or other bills using savings. 

Another option is using bare trusts. This usually involved the child’s grandparents or another adult who isn’t the child’s parent contributing to the fees. 

How do I afford private school?

If you can’t pay for private school upfront then you could consider asking loved ones to contribute or even cover the costs if that’s a viable option (e.g. as with the bare trusts above). 

You could also look into applying to a private school for a bursary or scholarship for your child. These can be granted on different merits including academic skill, sports, drama, arts, or music. The Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation is a charitable trust that helps disadvantaged children get into private boarding schools so can be an option for some. 

Another possibility is to take out a loan or use a financial plan to spread the cost out over a longer period of time. The downside is you will be charged interest and the total amount you spend on education will be more in the long run but if it’s something you believe in then shop around and see what’s available to you. 


Which are the best private schools in the UK?


When deciding which are the best private schools in the UK, there are a lot of factors to consider. For this reason, if you’re looking for the best school for your child you should think about what’s important to you:

  • Academic results
  • Extra-curricular activities offered
  • The school environment and ethos
  • The school’s reputation and recognition in the UK and perhaps internationally

What are the top 10 private schools in England?

Here are the top 10 private schools in England by GCSE results awarded in 2021:

  1. St Paul's Girls' School
  2. Wycombe Abbey School
  3. Haberdashers' Boys' School - Elstree
  4. Godolphin & Latymer School
  5. James Allen's Girls' School
  6. Putney High School
  7. Withington Girls School
  8. Brighton College
  9. St Paul's School
  10. Hampton School

What are the great nine schools of England?

The great nine schools of England are also known as the Clarendon schools:

  1. Eton
  2. Winchester
  3. Westminster
  4. St. Paul’s
  5. Merchant Taylor’s
  6. Shrewsbury
  7. Rugby
  8. Harrow
  9. Charterhouse

What is the most prestigious private school in the UK?

The most prestigious and well-known private school in the UK is arguably Eton College. Here are the answers to common questions about this famous institution. 

  • Is it hard to get into Eton? Yes, entry is very competitive. It’s a favourite with the royal family and prime ministers, past and present. 
  • How much is Eton per year? It costs £44,094 per year. Some kids receive financial support towards their fees and a small percentage pay no fees. 
  • What celebrities went to Eton? Some celebrities who attended Eton include Damian Lewis, Hugh Laurie, Tom Hiddleston, and Dominic West.
  • What is the girl equivalent to Eton? Benenden is the girl equivalent to Eton and the only girls’ all-boarding school found in the UK.

How do you get into private schools in the UK?

If you want to send your kid to a private school, the entry requirements will vary by school. It will also depend on what age they will enrol. In general, if we look at the typical requirements for getting into a private school at secondary level they will be a combination of or all of the following:

  • Being able to pay the registration fee and then the term fees (with a deposit upfront in order to hold your kid’s place)
  • Doing well in an entrance exam (either one of the standard 11+ exams administered or an exam set by the school)
  • Undergoing an interview with a member/s of the prospective school
  • Being exceptionally talented in a particular area such as sport, art, or music

How much do private schools cost in the UK?


The fees to attend a private school vary significantly. Usually, the fees are in the five-figure region. You should also consider there will be other costs on top of this for items such as uniforms and activities such as excursions. 

How much is Charterhouse a year? 

Fees are £41,406 per year and there is a £250 registration fee. If you want your kid to attend Charterhouse, apply three years in advance. 

How much is Harrow a year?

Fees are £43,665 per year to attend Harrow in London. Founded in 1572, it’s another famous institution.  

What is the most expensive school in the UK?

Brighton College is the most expensive school in the UK, coming in at £52,920 for boarding students. 

Where is the most expensive school in England?

Brighton College is the most expensive school in England and as the name suggests it’s located in Brighton on Eastern Rd, BN2 0AL.

What is the most expensive primary school in the UK?

While this can change each year as private schools adjust their fees, Brighton College is certainly one of the most expensive primary private schools in the UK. Here are the fees outlined for their Pre-Prep and Prep School that are payable each term:


Day Fees




















What is the cheapest private school in the UK?

The cheapest private school in the UK with over a 90 per cent success rate is Manchester Grammar School, costing £12,570 per year.

Do private school fees include VAT?

There is currently no VAT charged on school fees. There has been some discussion since the UK left the EU about the fact it would now be easier for the UK Government to impose VAT on education. However, in general, this is still considered an unlikely possibility and for now, it’s not on the cards. 

So, now you understand a little more about how private schools work and what you can expect to pay at the top schools in the UK. There are plenty of advantages and disadvantages as we’ve seen. At the end of the day, choosing the right school for your child is your decision. 

It will also come down to some external factors such as where you live, how much you can afford to pay, and what kind of education system is best for your child. 🤗

If your child needs more support in a subject then you can always consider private tutoring on the side. At GoStudent, we have high-quality tutors who can help across all subjects and age levels. Whether your child needs a confidence boost, to catch up in a class, or support with exam preparation (including the 11 plus). We’re here to help your child reach their potential.