Private school woos parents with fixed-fee deal

The Times, 30.05.15, an independent school is thought to have become the first to set fees throughout a pupil’s time at school, similar to a fixed-term mortgage deal. HMC member school Wrekin College features, Eton College, Westminster School and Wycombe Abbey are referenced and HMC member Andrew Halls, Headmaster of King's College School, Wimbeldon is quoted.

Wrekin College, in Shropshire, hopes to attract parents hesitant about committing to private education because of uncertainty about the long-term cost. Independent school fees have risen by 21 per cent in the past five years.

The school said that it wanted to dispel uncertainty about whether independent schools were affordable. Andy Nicoll, its marketing manager, said: “Families think, ‘Is it for us or isn’t it?’ We’ve been talking for a long time about how to make it accessible. This is like a fixed-term mortgage with fixed monthly payments for five years. We’ve been able to offer it to families joining this year with 11-year-old children.

“They will pay 60 equal monthly instalments. For sixth-formers it’s fixed for two years. We think it will help people undecided about whether to commit to private education. So many don’t [enrol their children] because they’re frightened of fee rises.”

Ms Nicoll said that parents on the plan would pay only about £135 extra over the five years, which would be more than covered by avoiding five years of fee rises.

The school charges from £13,695 for junior day pupils, up to £28,770 for full boarding fees for sixth-formers.

Research published last year found that the cost of sending children to fee-charging schools had risen four times faster than salaries since 2009. The average fee for a day school in 2014 was £12,345 — 37 per cent of average earnings, according to the study by Lloyds Bank. In 2009 the average fee was £10,176 — 32 per cent of earnings.

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