If you are London-based and considering the merits and affordability of educating your child privately and mixing state and private education, this article is for you. Independent school fees can challenge even the most generous of budgets. £250,000 is the average cost, if you educate you child privately from 4-18 years in London. The average London day school fee in 2020 was £18,000 and this rises every year. And when you add school trips, uniform, transport and additional private tuition to this figure, it’s no surprise that a private education over 14 years of a child’s life is becoming unaffordable for many London families, all of whom have high outgoings already.
State Education up until 8 Years Old
If you live in a London borough with good state primaries, state education up until years 3 or 4 is well worth considering. If you don’t live in the catchment areas for good state primaries, you can buy (or rent) a house nearby. This is one way to save yourself considerable outlay for the first 3-4 years of your child’s education. Plus, your child will make local friendships, which saves you dashing across London during evenings or weekends for play dates and parties.
The majority of top state primary schools, however good they are, will not prepare your child for 11+ entrance at independent schools. This is why many London parents choose to transfer their child to a prep in years 3 or 4, so that they can be prepared for competitive 11+ or 13+ entrance. It pays to choose a prep that is linked to a top secondary school such as Wimbledon High Junior School, St Paul’s Junior’s, Westminster Under or North London Collegiate as, the majority of children transfer seamlessly to the linked secondary school. Other preps such as Arnold House, the Hall and Garden House and have great track records at getting pupils into top secondary schools. We advise registering well in advance, as lists can fill up quickly.
Navigating the 11+
Most top London secondaries operate at 11+ entrance system. You can consider both state (free) grammar school and private schools in order to mix state and private education. London’s 19 grammar schools are extremely academic and include Queen Elizabeth’s, Barnet; Henrietta Barnet, Hampstead Garden Suburb and Tiffin Girls in Kingston. If you are aiming for one of these, prep school fees may well be worth paying to ensure your child is supported through the entrance exam.
London’s independent schools are focused on attracted the brightest pupils. Consequently, the emphasis is on IQ, generally tested by verbal and non-verbal reasoning tests as well as maths and English. Some London schools have a high intake from the state sector – City of London School takes half of its entrance from state at 11+ and City of London School for Girls has a similar ratio. To learn more about top London girls’ school, read our blog here.
Wimbledon High School takes 40% of its 11+ entrants from the state sector – an exact match to the 40% percentage of applicants from the state sector. Westminster, St Pauls and St Pauls Girls are increasingly keen to attract the brightest 11 years olds from state primaries.
Moving at Sixth Form, at 16 Years
Transferring school at 16 years, after GCSEs, can be a positive move for many pupils. For both girls and boys, a move from single sex to co-ed is an opportunity to broaden horizons and can encourage an increased interest in academic work. Catchment areas become be more flexible at 16+ entrance. It can also be an opportunity to save on school fees for the final 2 years of your child’s education. We see some girls moving to the state Camden School for Girls, renowned for its academic excellence and superbly broad sixth form curriculum. Some girls at top London girls’ schools, such as North London Collegiate, often consider a move to Westminster to benefit from its co-ed sixth form.
Changing schools during the Pandemic
Even during the pandemic, London school places are sought-after at every stage and entry is highly competitive. However, in a transient city, there is room for movement and to mix state and private education. If your child is unhappy and the current school isn’t working for him or her, it’s almost always possible to final an alternative solution.