The UK’s most affordable private schools: where can you find them?

The UK’s most affordable private schools: where can you find them?

There’s a perception among many parents that private schools are expensive. It leads some families to dismiss independent schools out of hand because they assume they’re unaffordable.

But you might be surprised to know that private schools aren’t just the preserve of the rich and famous. They’re not out of reach for ordinary families – if you know where to look.

Let’s find out where some of the UK’s least expensive independent schools are located.

The regional divide in private school costs in England

It probably won’t come as a surprise that there’s a strong regional influence in the variation of school fees across the country.

Private schools in the south of the UK tend to be a lot pricier than their counterparts in the north. And schools in London and the southeast also command a premium when compared with establishments further from the capital. But although that gives a general picture, there are exceptions to the pattern – it’s possible to find reasonably priced school fees in almost every part of the country. Let’s explore.

Affordable private schools in the North of England

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The school with the lowest fees in the UK is Abrar Academy, found in Preston in the northwest of England. The school offers an Islamic and secular education for boys of secondary age, and with annual fees of just £1500 for day students and £3,000 for boarders, the fees are significantly cheaper than many other independent schools in the UK.

There are two other well-priced schools in the North of England, also Islamic schools. Jaamiatul Imaam Muhammad Zakaria near Bradford is a girls’ secondary school with fees of just over £1,000 per term, whilst the Institute of Islamic Education in Dewsbury charges just £1800 per year.

Affordability doesn’t just come from Islamic schools, though. Terrington Hall in North Yorkshire has fees of £9,600 for boys and girls in reception, rising to over £16,500 by the time children reach year 8.

And while that might seem steep in comparison to the schools we’ve already mentioned, keep in mind that there are many public schools whose fees are over £45,000 a year, and even some that approach £100,000 per year.

Affordable private schools in the South of England

Surprisingly, one of the most affordable schools in the UK is found in the centre of London. Westminster Choir School is a boys’ school with very reasonable fees, starting at just over £6,400 for a day place. However, if your son is a singer, it would be worth investigating a chorister place – being accepted for as a chorister means boarding fees of just £3,600.

Outside of the capital, Hall Grove in Surrey charges £12,000 in day fees to boys and girls in reception, with costs rising as children progress up the school.

Most affordable schools in the East of England

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Holmwood House in Colchester, Essex, is a prep school for boys and girls. School fees start at little more than £10,500 for the year. For families for whom budget is a concern, the Holmwood House could make a good alternative to pricier schools closer to London.

And in East Anglia, Riddlesworth Hall Prep School in Norfolk offers co-educational places for around £20,000 a year.

Affordable schools in the West of England

The county of Devon holds two of the most reasonably priced schools in the West of England. Exeter Cathedral School provides an independent education for boys and girls from reception to year 8. Fees start at under £9,000 per year for children in reception, and increase as children move up the school.

Not far away in Exmouth, St Peter’s Preparatory School charges a similar amount, with annual fees of £8,580 for children in reception. Again, these rise as children progress through their education.

Affordable private schools in the Midlands

If you’re local to the Midlands, consider Tettenhall College for your youngster. The school charges a little over £8,000 for children in reception. School fees rise as your child grows, reaching less than £16,000 for prep and 6th form students.

And Yarlet School, near Stafford, also has fees under £10,000 per year for a child in reception. The costs remain under £15,000 even for children in year 8.

Affordable private schools in Northern Ireland

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One of the most affordable schools in the UK is found in Tyrone. The Royal School Dungannon, a co-educational secondary school that has fees from £5,400.

While elsewhere in Northern Ireland, Belfast. Victoria College, a girls’ school for pre-school, prep and secondary school age children, also boasts affordable fees. Tuition fees here start at just £5,500.

Affordable private schools in Scotland

In Scotland, independent schools tend to be on the pricier side than many schools in the UK, so it’s worth looking out for the best value for money from your child’s education.

One of Scotland’s most affordable schools is Cargilfield, Midlothian, a private school for boys and girls. has yearly fees of almost £12,000 for day pupils in years 1, 2 and 3.

Meanwhile, St Mary’s Prep School in Melrose is a co-educational establishment in the Scottish Borders. It comes in at under £6,000 per term for a place in reception, year 1 or 2.

Affordable private schools in Wales

Wales boasts many excellent independent schools, including some that are competitively priced.

For a school catering to children from nursery to year 8, take a look at St John’s on-the-Hill in Chepstow, which has fees of just over £9,000 per year for reception children.

Or if you’re looking for an all-through school, Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools are a group of private schools that have co-ed places for boys and girls aged 3 to 11, and single-sex schools from 11-18. The prep school costs £8,460 each year for children in reception, year 1 and 2, rising as children move up the school. Day fees for the boy’s school are set at £17,679 annually, and Monmouth School for Girls charges £16,515 from year 7. 6th form years for boys and girls costs £36,387.

How to make independent school fees affordable


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Of course, if you’re looking to pay less for school fees, there are other options than just choosing the cheapest fees. We’ve got top tips on how to reduce the cost of school fees.

But that’s not the only way to keep your school fee spending under control – it’s important to prepare for sending your child to private school by making proper financial plans. Once you have a clear picture of your financial position, you can make a realistic assessment about whether independent education is right for your family.

Many parents are surprised to find that school fees are more affordable than they thought – and they don’t even have to throw away their dreams of early retirement, a second home, or holidays to luxury locations. Get in touch to chat about how your child’s private education can be more affordable than you might expect.