Top school cuts fees by more than £7,000 a year

Top public school Stowe attended by Sir Richard Branson and Cressida Bonas cuts its fees by more than £7,000 a year… so it’s not overrun by oligarchs’ sons

  • Stowe School is planning to reduce fees for its day pupils by almost 30 per cent 
  • Day fees will cost £18,435 instead of £25,590, with boarding fees at £35,595 
  • Head Anthony Wallersteiner warned schools could be dominated by elites

One of the country’s most prestigious private schools is to slash its fees in a dramatic move to lure back the middle classes.

Stowe School, whose alumni include Sir Richard Branson and Prince Harry’s former girlfriends Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas, is to drop its bills for day pupils by more than £7,000 a year – a decrease of almost 30 per cent.

The move bucks the trend of relentless inflation-busting rises across the independent sector, where fees have tripled in real terms since 1980, pricing out many middle-income families.

Stowe’s head Anthony Wallersteiner said there was a danger that independent schools could become the preserve of a wealthy elite, bolstered by foreign oligarchs.

Stowe School, whose alumni include Sir Richard Branson and Prince Harry’s former girlfriends Chelsy Davy and Cressida Bonas, is to drop its bills for day pupils by more than £7,000 a year

He said schools should not alienate their traditional bedrock families if they wanted the continued support of the country’s middle classes in the face of growing political hostility. His 780-pupil, co-educational school in Buckinghamshire still has a strong demand for places and is not lowering its £35,595-a-year boarding fees, but he wanted to encourage more local parents to feel they could afford places.

From next year, fees for day pupils who join one of two new houses being built to accommodate more day places will be £18,435, down from £25,590. This could mean a saving of more than £35,000 over the five years a pupil would normally attend the school. Dr Wallersteiner said: ‘If you want to send two children to board at a top private school, you will need to be earning about £250,000 gross a year. But in the 1980s we were educating the sons and daughters of army majors, country solicitors and local bank managers.’


The school’s alumni include Sir Richard Branson (left) and Cressida Bonas (right)

He added that rising standards in many state schools meant parents were questioning whether private education was value for money.

Stowe is housed in imposing neo-classical buildings, set in 750 acres.

Professor Alan Smithers, of the Centre for Employment and Education, said the move would force other heads to consider their charges.

‘Independent schools have thrived on providing a Rolls-Royce education and it has been priced accordingly. But the people within this country who are most interested in going are being priced out. So it seems logical schools should drop fees to take them within the range of these people as they can’t rely on foreign billionaires for ever.’

The average fees for day pupils at private schools is £18,750 and £33,684 for boarding. 

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