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Britain’s most expensive private schools where parents pay more than £53k for kids to attend

Britain's most expensive private schools
Parents are spending more than £50k each year to send their kids to some of these schools. (Picture: Rex/Alamy)

When it comes to British private schools, you have no doubt heard of Eton and Harrow, where the likes of Prince William, Boris Johnson, David Cameron, and Benedict Cumberbatch were educated.

But you might be surprised to discover that neither of these prestigious institutions are actually the most expensive schools to attend in the country – although they are both in a recent ranking of the top 10.

Concord College in Acton Burnell, Shrewsbury, is currently the most expensive private school in the UK, costing parents up to £17,800 per term, which works out at an eye-watering £53,400 per annum for the 2023/24 academic year.

This is according to the Spear’s School Index, which recognises the 100 best schools in the world. From the schools featured on the list, they’ve narrowed down the top 10 most expensive in Great Britain, all of which cost over £48,000 per annum.

The UK's most expensive private schools Metro Graphic Rex/Alamy
Many of the schools cost more than £50,000 per year. (Picture: Created with Datawrapper)

Here’s a closer look at the top 10 and how much mums and dads pay to send their little ones there (it’s worth noting that private school fees are set to rise for the 2024/25 academic year, so these are all going to be even more expensive come September…).

1. Concord College, £53,400 per annum 

CMWN1T International school, Concord College of Acton Burnell in Shropshire.
Concord College is the most expensive school in Britain. (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

Located in Shropshire, Concord College is an independent, international school inside Acton Burnell Hall.

Founded in 1949, the boarding and day school currently has around 580 students from 40 different nations.

Boarding fees for the 2023/24 academic year are £17,800 per term, which works out at £53,400 per annum.

The cost includes tuition, accommodation in a single study bedroom, use of all college facilities, meals, access to most clubs and societies, laundry, regular visits to Shrewsbury and elsewhere, residential trips as part of the curriculum, college celebration events, and boarding house activities.

However, there are several extras that parents have to pay for on top of this, including textbooks and stationery, public examination fees, some clubs and societies, pocket money, private academic or instrumental music tuition, additional trips and activities off campus, and any additional trips off of campus.

The fees are lower for day students who do not board. These are £6,100 per term (£18,300 per annum).

2. Brighton College, £52,560 per annum

CY63D5 Brighton College, Kemptown, Brighton, East Sussex, UK
Brighton College was recently named the UK’s school of the decade. (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

Brighton College was recently named the UK’s school of the decade by The Sunday Times, as part of their Independent Schools Guide.

The piece claimed it was ‘one of the hottest tickets in independent education’ and praised the school’s ‘progressive outlook’ and ‘excellent headship’ of Richard Cairns.

But a place at this school doesn’t come cheap. For the 2023/24 school year, sixth form boarding students paid £17,520 per term, which cost a whopping £52,560 per annum.

This fee includes tuition (including sports and arts), meals, pupils’ personal accident insurance, accommodation, laundry, 24 hour on-site medical, pastoral and security provision, as well as supervised prep and a range of activities during the evenings and weekends.

The school claims that other expenses may also be incurred for students, such as textbooks and exercise books issued to pupils, extra-curricular activities, examination fees, career guidance, optional trips and other incidental costs. When pupils participate in field trips, excursions or sports tours, if significant expense is incurred, parents may be asked to pay a deposit in advance.

3. Sevenoaks School, £50,757 per annum

Sevenoaks School is one the oldest in the country. (Picture: Clive Dix/REX/Shutterstock)

Founded in 1432, Sevenoaks School is one of the oldest in the UK. The co-educational boarding and day school has around 1,200 pupils with standard day fees for sixth formers costing £33,078 a year, and boarding fees being £50,757.

Pupils in the lower school pay slightly less, with day fees charged at £29,127, and £46,785 for boarders.

Fees include lunch on every school day (including Saturdays), plus textbooks and exercise books for all timetabled subjects.

Music tuition is £34 for a 30-minute lesson, and there’s a £59 hire charge for musical instruments per term.

4. Cheltenham Ladies College, £50,700 per annum

Cheltenham Ladies' College
Cheltenham Ladies’ College is one of the top boarding schools for girls. (Picture: Christopher Jones/REX/Shutterstock)

This private school is for girls aged 11 to 18 and is consistently ranked one of the best in the UK.

In 2023 it was named the Top UK IB independent girls’ boarding school 2023 by Best Schools, and Tatler recently praised it for being ‘forward-thinking’.

If you wanted your daughter to attend here as a new boarding student in Sixth Form, you’d need to fork out £16,900 per term, which works out as £50,700 for the year.

Meanwhile, a new sixth former only attending during the day would be charged, £9,900 per term, which is £29,700 per annum.

Existing students and new pupils entering the lower school are charged slightly less. For boarders it’s £15,050 per term. While day students pay £9,900.

The fees cover the cost of most things associated with education, including teaching, essential educational materials and text books, and many curriculum trips.

They also include the provision of pastoral care, personal accident insurance, meals and snacks, and many other activities as part of the co-curricular and weekend programmes.

However, there may be further charges for external exams, some co-curricular activities (such as offsite activities or additional music and drama lessons), extra coaching, some curriculum trips, educational magazine subscriptions and optional insurances.

5. Harrow School, £50,550 per annum

Harrow School on top of Harrow-on-the Hill in North West London UK aerial views - 2017
Harrow School on top of Harrow-on-the Hill in North West London. (Picture: High Level/REX/Shutterstock)

Harrow is a boys only school in north-west London, which was founded in 1572.

As we’ve already heard, a number of famous faces studied here in their younger years, with alumni including Benedict Cumberbatch, James Blunt, and Richard Curtis.

And your son could follow in their footsteps – if you happen to have £50,550 lying around each year.

Termly fees for 2023/24 are £16,850, which includes board, tuition, textbooks, a stationery allowance and laundry.

There’s also a non-refundable £350 fee to register your child at the school, plus an entry deposit of £3,000 for students.

If a child attends the school, £1,500 is returned at the end of his first term, and then the remaining £1,500 is deducted from his final bill.

In Year 9, if an applicant fails the Common Entrance or Academic Scholarship examinations, or is advised by his prep school to withdraw in the expectation that he will not reach the required standard, his entry deposit will be refunded in full.

6. Eton College, £49,998 per annum

The famous public boarding school, Eton College in Eton, Windsor, Berkshire.
Eton College is located near Windsor, Berkshire, and is where a lot of politicians have attended. (Picture: Maureen McLean/Shutterstock)

When you think of private schools, Eton might be one of the first to come to mind, given its long list of notable alumni. From Prince William and Prince Harry, to George Orwell, Boris Johnson, Tom Hiddleston, and Eddie Redmayne, so many famous faces have walked the halls over the years.

As such, it might surprise you to see it so far down on the list.

The highest fees per term for boarding students in 2023/24 were £16,666, which worked out at £49,998 for the school year.

This price includes includes tuition, board, lodging, and the cost of most games activities and the majority of educational materials.

In addition, boys incur variable extras, e.g. charges for music lessons, optional insurances, boat club membership and school trips. These extras are usually between £500-£1,000 per term.

7. Westminster School, £49,518 per annum

Entrance to Westminster School, Dean's Yard, Westminster, London
Westminster School is in the heart of London. (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

The progressive school, set in the heart of London, has predominantly been a school for boys throughout its 500-year history, but is currently working to make the school fully co-educational.

Boys can attend from the age of 13 onwards, but girls can only join from 16+ currently.

For children aged 13 to 16, the school fees are £34,299 a year for day pupils and £49,518 for boarding pupils.

For those aged 16+ it’s £37,485 for day students and £49,518 for boarders.

There are also a number of additional fees and deposits that need to be paid for acceptance to the school.

8. Winchester College, £49,152 per annum

Winchester College, College Street, Winchester, England, UK
Winchester College is situated in Hampshire. (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

Winchester College is a boarding school for boys from Year 9 through to Year 13. However, both girls and boys are allowed to attend the Sixth Form as day pupils.

The school, which was founded by William of Wykeham in 1382, is currently constructing houses for girls so they can board also in future.

The fee for 2023/24 is £36,369 per annum (£12,123 per term) for sixth form day students, which includes tuition, as well as all meals, and break-time refreshments.

For boarding students, the fee this year was £49,152 per annum (£16,384 per term).

9. Gordonstoun, £48,990 per annum

Gordonstoun School, Elgin, Scotland, UK Gordonstoun School, Elgin, Scotland, UK
King Charles attended Gordonstoun in his younger years. (Picture: Andrew Smith/REX/Shutterstock)

Children aged between 4 ½ and 18 can attend Gordonstoun in Elgin, Scotland, a private school which was the birthplace of the Duke of Edinburgh Award and was also the senior school attended by King Charles.

The school was voted the best boarding school in the UK back in 2021, and was praised as ‘outstanding’ during its last inspection.

For 2023/24, fees for students boarding in sixth form were as high as £16,330 per term, which makes it £48,990 for the year. Junior pupils at the school paid less, with it costing them £10,350 each term.

Roughly a third of the pupils at the co-educational school are thought receive financial help in order to attend.

Unlike many other private schools on the list, the fees at Gordonstoun cover virtually everything, including expeditions and sail training and most weekend activities for boarders.

‘Chargeable extras’ include things like uniform, individual music lessons and one off excursions like a Sport or Music Tour.

10. Wellington College, £48,930 per annum

Wellington College Berkshire UK, 1980's.
Wellington College rounds out the top 10. (Picture: Alamy Stock Photo)

Founded in 1853, Wellington College was built as a living memorial to the Duke of Wellington, which is where the school gets its name from.

Located in Crowthorne, Berkshire, the school educates around 1,100 students aged 13 to 18.

For 2023/24 boarding fees were £16,310 per term, while day pupils paid £11,920

The fees include all the costs incurred in the course of the education, including the provision of any necessary educational materials.

Supplemental charges such as uniform, optional school fees, insurance, optional health insurance, individual music lessons, public examination fees, and school trips are not included in the price.

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