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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:44 am 
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Hi all

Apologies if this has been discussed previously.

Would anyone be able to shed some light on how much we should typically budget for non-fee costs in an indie? We are looking at Habs girls and Highgate for our DD. She is taking her grade 3 flute soon, so will be partaking in music at her secondary school and we have also budgeted in coach/tube fairs.

An absolute value would be great or alternatively a % of fees (10%,15%,20%)? We are coming from a primary state school, so this is a completely new world for us. As a background, we are in the 193-450 IC for Latymer, and are just exploring our options depending on how our DD does in these schools' entrance tests

Also, can childcare vouchers be used for anything?

I have looked into bursaries additionally, but our fluctuating income means that this is a no-go, so we will potentially remortgage if necessary

Any feedback/thoughts most gratefully received


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:57 am 
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Not from your area but, remember there is, of course, a cost associated with all secondary schools - not just private ones - and it can be quite a surprise to some parents as to how much the little trips here and there, contributions to this and that, unifrom/kit etc all add up to, just in a "bog standard" comprehensive or Grammar School. Obviously you don't have to go on all the trips but there are some which are more compulsory - as they are the curriculum based ones (broadly speaking these take place in the school day and are directly related to the school curriculum, as opposed to a sports tour abroad, for example.)

My brother in law has three children at various private schools in the South East - he has always, always lived by the rule of thumb that for each child at private school he budgets the equivalent of at least a full term of fees again, annually, to cover the incidental costs/travel/kit/extra curricular/any meals/exam costs etc. (All of his friends do the same - but I appreciate this is a small sample!!) That is, if the termly fees are £4000, then budget £16000 for the year. If you have to use private school buses, they can be quite significant costwise (which he does). I know you will now get lots of people on here saying "oh we don't pay that, we only pay tuppence ha'penny" and that's great for them, but you asked for a rule of thumb and this is what he and they have said. Better to be over cautious and possibly have money back!

For info, we have boys in GS, for one boy, bus fees are £750 a year (and rising), uniform costs (at start) were around £400 including specialist rugby kit (for eg a decent mouthguard is about £40) trips we budget around £500 a year (battlefields trip to France this year which is a curriculum tour was about £400 and other day trips - next year Iceland, non compulsory is £1000 etc etc), we do packed lunches rather than hot dinners, we pay for the occasional text book/magazine (for the older boy), things like DoE are obviously additional....but it does add up - for us, easily £150 a month in a state school - but we try and let them access as much as they can...

Some state schools are less than that, but maybe don't do quite as many curriculum trips and certainly not as many non curriculum trips. Others are better funded, or have pots of money from Governors, PTAs, Benefactors that help shore up the costs. All I am trying to do is remind you that whilst there is a cost to private school there is ALSO a cost to state school so the private school costs will likely be higher but not necessarily hugely higher! ie I know it sounds frightening to say "budget another terms fees" but when you break it down and look at uniform costs, travel, trips etc, it makes far more sense as to why this might be good rule of thumb...


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 9:09 am 
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Joined: Sun Oct 22, 2017 8:45 pm
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Wow - thanks for this hugely informative and excellent response.

Budgeting on another term's fees seems sensible from what you're describing. I had completely missed so many of the extra aspects that you've mentioned. Thanks also for the heads up on the grammar and comps. This helps us plan suitably and project to our mortgage company how much extra we will need

Thank you very much

Much appreciated


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:37 am 
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With a DD at Habs Girls, I think that the extra costs are actually quite reasonable. There are very good second hand uniform sales at the girls' school (never ever buy a blazer from new - they are over £70 and the girls only wear them for assembly!) and once you have kitted them out in yr 7, it's much easier to just replace the odd item when they need it. Music lessons are £230 a term. With regard to school day trips, again they are not stupidly priced - DD's geography trip next week is £9.70! Lunch is £4/day, but you can opt for packed lunch to bring the price down. There are options for them to have breakfast at school and also snacks in morning break - for this you add money onto a ParentPay account and then they use their thumb print to pay for food which then deducts from the account. You can control this by how much you add onto the account. My DD likes to have breakfast at school, and I think in total it probably costs us another £40/term.

You can see from the website what the cost of the coach would be as it varies depending on what your location is. And don't forget there are the cost of public exams when they get to yr 11 and higher.

As kenyancowgirl said, the biggest additional cost comes with the residential trips. I think the only ones that are compulsory at Habs Girls are Bushcraft in yr 7 and the Battlefields Trip in Yr 9 (can't remember the costs I'm afraid). My DD at Habs Boys is very involved in particular conferences, and these can cost between £200- £350 for a weekend. But all the other extra trips are not compulsory and therefore you can control them and save up accordingly. They boys school are very good in that they send out a list of all the extra curricular trips for the academic year during the summer holidays, together with costs, so you can budget for the year ahead. Unfortunately the girls school don't do that (although there don't seem to be as many trips on offer for the girls as for the boys - maybe that will change as my DD gets higher up).

I don't think we spend even close to another term's fees in a year in extras (even with my DS and his conferences!) Maybe another term's fees for both of them together would be a more accurate reflection (although my DS wants to do the History & Politics USA trip in 6th form, which no doubt has a nice healthy price tag!!!)

Obviously I can only speak from the perspective of a Habs parent! If you have any other questions, do let me know. Happy to help.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:59 am 
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Thank you very much Superdifey

Looks like there are ways to keep costs down, which is great and some great tips, thank you.

I'm probably jumping the gun here as she hasn't even sat the tests yet, but if she was successful, are new parents able to come to the second hand sales at the school and when are they typically staged please?


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:09 am 
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Forgot to say that you may have to include musical instruments, if your DD is musical and the school don't lend them (good musicians tend to want their own, don't they?!)

I note that superdifey feels the costs are significantly lower - I did say that is what would happen! And, of course you can control costs by not sending them on trips - but it depends on how much you want them to access everything the school has to offer. Most of the uniform cost (as I said) is at the beginning - we are old school and bought new for Y7 (but big) and then top up either new or second hand, depending on the item and quality in the secondhand shop. (Our secondhand sale is towards the end of the summer term, so parents could see what was there and then buy new anything they hadn't got.) School lunches at £4 a day is minimum £200 a term/£600 a year, and that is if they don't have optional extras at breakfast and break time! It's one of the reasons we went to packed lunches as the fingerprint system adopted by most schools makes it feel like it isn't really money they are spending in the canteen!

Things like History/Geography days out tend to be £15-£20 for us, to cover entry fees and as they hire coaches (and we don't have the pots of money to dip into to shore the cost up) and, as superdifey says, by not sending your kids on trips you can save a lot, but they might lose out on part of the educational/growing up experience. Our school offers art trips/language trips/ classics trips/theatre trips etc etc...some compulsory - others not - some of these are more local, some national and some international - whilst not compulsory per se some of these would be more "essential" if your child was studying the subject, I guess. We don't pay exam fees - only resit costs, if your child resits, but I think private schools do tend to charge. With sports trips it depends on how committed and interested your child is - some of our fencers seem to be in Europe most weekends at some competition or another during the season!

As I said, I can't comment on Habs but our school has the following compulsory trips (there are numerous non-compulsory ones too like theatre trips, Hadrians Wall, Justice Courts, Iceland, Paris, German/Spanish exchange/skiing, DoE etc etc):

Y7 residential in the first term, (£180) plus Activities week cost, £75, History and RE trip
Y8 Geography/History/Art trips and Activities week outward bound residential £330
Y9 Art/Geography trips and Activities week Battlefields residential £450 (there is also a Junior rugby/hockey tour that most of the year go on - around £350)
Y10 2 x Art trips/History and Activities Week £85
Y11 History/Art/6th Form induction

There are more in the 6th - and the compulsory ones here can be more expensive - for every compulsory one there are 3 or 4 specifically for that age that are non compulsory and prices vary from £10s to £1000s. That is why I suggested you go for a terms fees as it would allow your DD to access probably everything she would want to and would cover you for the things that you may have forgotten!


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:41 am 
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Fees at Highgate include lunches & trips that take place in school time.

If travelling to school by bus, that would obviously be free too as London children get free bus travel.

Only trips abroad etc are extra, as everyone has said....there are plenty of trips & no pressure to go on them. The trips vary but costs seem what I would call sensible, not scarily over-priced.

There are large uniform sales each term which I hear are popular, haven't been to one yet! The blazer style has changed in the last couple of years but there are many children still wearing the old style, even when they've clearly grown out of it! Plenty of hand me downs from older siblings around.

Music lessons are again competitively priced, lots of children do them....prices are higher than at state primaries - just looked up the cost, £285 per term (10 lessons).

Uniform, (including winter coat, backpack, sports bag which we didn't have to get from the uniform shop but did anyway), plus full PE kit (tracksuit, skins, hoodie plus 2 X PE top & shorts) cost us £510. I will definitely be going to the secondhand sale though next time....no stigma attached to that whatsoever. My sporty child does some sport each day hence the 2 PE kits. A new blazer was £85 I think, so a large part of the total cost.

I was told that you should allow another 10% on top of fees for extras....not including overseas trips. So far this term there have been no extras & I can't see any coming up.

We were in your position last year....only sat for Latymer & Highgate, got into both. Wonderful position to be in but a difficult decision....after a week of sleepless nights we chose Highgate & are very happy all round so far, it suits my child perfectly & I have only positive things to say about it so far. My child was also at a state primary.

Good luck, feel free to PM me with any questions or ask away here!


Last edited by Sla212 on Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:15 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 11:47 am 
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Location: N London
Hi Melannie, I have a DS at Highgate. The fees include a lot of the things that are extras at other schools - lunch, all books and compulsory curriculum related trips at least until year 10 when they study different subjects (I don't know yet what will happen now) are all included. The year 7 mixer trip at the start of the year is included plus other residential trips, two of which are abroad, in years 7, 8 and 9. There are trips such as ski trips and sports tours that are extra, but you don't have to do them.
Unlike Habs you do need to wear a blazer all day every day (£105 new) but there are second hand uniform sales and it looks like we will get through five years on two blazers.... Trousers, shirt and jumper are standard buy from anywhere. I buy a lot of sports kit as DS does something almost every day but its no more than I pay at Sports Direct for what he does out of school.
Even if you include an extra trip a year and music lessons the extra cost would be nowhere near another terms fees.
Musical instrument lessons are extra and I'm afraid I have no insight there.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:04 pm 
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I guess the reason everyone says something different is that genuinely the costs vary hugely from school to school.
If she's offered a place at Latymer then travel costs are free in the TFL area which obviously is a huge saving (I guess that would also apply to Highgate though not Habs).
Just for comparison with another state school (DAO) we paid £160 for dd's uniform in year 7 and £240 for ds (and that included two blazers - dd's don't need blazers there) - not including shoes. SInce then I have replaced dd's jumpers and blouses once at the end of year 9 and don't expect to buy any more uniform for her.
Other than the year 7 settling in trip (£180) there are no compulsory residential trips other than (I believe) Geography in year 10 or 11. We did pay for each of them to go on a history/geography day trip in year 7 but it was less than £10 from memory. There are a lot of optional trips, some of which are hugely expensive, but obviously most people don't go on them. Music lessons are around £180 a term. We have been asked to voluntarily contribute to various things (eg equipment for PD) but the costs were less than £100 a year in year 7 and then much less than that since.
I would expect Latymer's costs to be fairly similar to DAO but maybe someone will come on and advise. Most state schools are cautious about having a lot of compulsory trips as the school cannot compel parents to pay - technically my understanding is that, if a trip is advertised as compulsory, the school would have to pay for the child to attend if the parents decline to do so.
Like Superdifey said, there are ways of keeping costs down. Second hand uniform sales are brilliant; some of the things appear almost brand new...
Good luck with the exams.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:17 pm 
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Thank you so much everyone. All your responses have provided so much insight and potential cost savings. I had no idea that the extra amount one pays for Highgate per term covers a lot of the extras that Habs doesn't. I guess that the costs tend to even out between the schools

Much appreciated for all your responses.


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