The most expensive schools in the country – the famous boys” boarding schools – are now charging more than £30,000 a year. They would say the quality of education and the 24-hour care is money well spent. Schools like Eton College have generous bursary schemes for bright children from impoverished homes.
Tonbridge School in Kent (£32,823) tops the list with Winchester College (£32,700); Eton College in Berkshire (£32,067); Sevenoaks School in Sevenoaks (£32,175) and Charterhouse in Godalming, Surrey (£31,680) not very far behind. Boys’ school have always been more expensive than girls’, a relic from the days when boys’ education was considered more important than girls’.
It is possible to spend serious money on girls, but there are no all-girls’ schools in the top ten most expensive schools. (Cheltenham Ladies College has fees of £29,421). Charterhouse takes girls in the sixth-form. For social connections, there is Marlborough College in Wiltshire, (£31,350) a co-educational school that boasts Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, among its former pupils.
The other co-educational schools in the list include Sevenoaks School in Sevenoaks, Kent, which has large numbers doing the International Baccalaureate (IB). It charges new arrivals in the sixth form £32,121, but lower down the school the fees are £29,610. Other options are Wellington College in Crowthorne, Berkshire (£31,500). It has only been co-educational since the Dr Anthony Seldon took over as headmaster and is around two-thirds boys.
Bedales School in Petersfield, Hampshire (£30,930) is popular with media types and has a reputation for combining good manners and liberal attitudes. For sporty types, there is Millfield School in Somerset (£31,260). Sherborne, a boys’ boarding school in Dorset, charges £30,300.
High fees do not always signify a school with brilliant exam results and Oxbridge success. Some schools are more selective than others. In this list, the ones that send significant numbers of pupils to Oxbridge are Eton, Winchester, Tonbridge and Charterhouse.
Not all schools that claim to be boarding schools are included. Westminster School in central London justifies its high day school fees – £25,538 in the sixth-form – on the grounds that it is a traditional boarding school, though only a quarter of its pupils are boarders. Boarders pay £30,432.
1 Tonbridge School, Tonbridge, Kent £32,823
2 Winchester College, Winchester, Hampshire £32,700
3 Sevenoaks School, Kent £32,175 ( new sixth-formers)
4 Eton College £32,067
5 Charterhouse , Goldaming, Surrey £31,680
6 Wellington College , Crowthorne, Berkshire £31,500
7 Marlborough College, Marlborough, Wiltshire £31,350
8 Millfield School, Street, Somerset £31,260
9 Bedales School, Petersfield, Hampshire £30,950
10 Sherborne School, Dorset £30,300