About 50 per cent of residential boarders at Gordon’s are from Service families. As Bursar at Gordon’s, I have seen some trends for parents claiming the Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) and from these I make three key observations.
Paying school fees is a major financial commitment for parents and is not to be undertaken lightly. Apart from a mortgage it is probably the largest expenditure parents can make. The opportunity to spread the payment load is limited as most schools require settlement of the previous term’s fees before allowing a pupil to return for the next term. Consequently, new cars and holidays often have to take a back seat and both parents may need to work to cover even the basic fee. Independent education is therefore, by any standards, a large financial commitment.
Parents contemplating school bills have often found them difficult to fathom. Increases in school fees have several causes. These include the inevitable salaries and employee benefits for academic and administrative staff. Schools must also maintain buildings and facilities and absorb increases in the costs of books, materials and utilities. Even schools with endowments and trust fund investments have rarely found income matching inflation.
Looking specifically at grants and awards for children of those in the Armed Forces the ISBI website (www.isbi.com) lists some 200 schools. The following list has been researched from the Independent Schools Yearbook and from schools who have advised us of the concessions they offer to Service children. For full information, contact the schools direct, particularly for information on their definition of ‘generous’, and how discounts and percentages are applied to fees – there is no common interpretation.