UK school bill soars by £6,000 per child over last five years

Article date: 10 July 2013

  • Average cost of sending a child to state school adds up to more than £22,500
  • Educational extras could add up to a further £1,268 per year

The start of the school year is set to put the nation's parents to the test as a new study reveals the average cost of putting a child through school in the UK is now £22,596*, which works out at £1,614 per child, per school year.

Aviva reveals in its latest ‘school sums’ index that the annual bill for sending a child to state school has grown by 11% in the last five years. Coupled with government efforts to raise the participation age, it means the total bill for sending a child to state school has increased by more than £6,000 since 2008.**

In total, UK parents can now expect to fork out a staggering £12.9 billion*** just in the 2013/2014 school year on the everyday costs associated with their children's education. This includes:

  • £3 billion on school meals and packed lunches (£379 per child)
  • £3 billion on transport to and from school (£369 per child)
  • £1.5 billion on uniform and shoes (£186 per child)
  • £473 million on sports kit (£59 per child)

In addition, out of school care weighs in heavily for UK families who spend an average of £558 per child, per year. The cost per family ranges from those who spend nothing each month to those who have a much greater need for support and spend upwards of £160 each month.

And for those parents able to find the additional budget, extra curricular activities could add a further £1,268 per year including up to £480 on music lessons and £120 on school trips.

However, there is also evidence of families cutting back where they can. Parents are using their cars less on the school run in 2013 compared with 2008, suggesting increasing fuel costs are having an impact. Just over a quarter of all parents currently drive their children to school (27%) compared with a third back in 2008 (33%). Instead, more than half of all parents say their children typically travel either on foot (47%) or by bicycle (3%).

And despite the 11% rise in the annual cost of schooling since 2008, exactly half of parents feel comfortable that they can afford all the expenses of sending their children to school (50%) – with nearly one in five saying they feel very comfortable (19%). 

The Aviva ’school sums’ index also shows:

  • More than one in ten parents (11%) have moved house to live in a ‘better’ catchment area, with the quality of local schools ranked as more important than transport links and proximity to family and friends when moving home.
  • More than one in four parents (28%) have bought a tablet for their children for educational purposes.
  • One in four parents (26%) say they aren’t saving to support their children’s university education because they cannot afford to.

Louise Colley, protection distribution director for Aviva says: “The majority of children in the UK are taught through the state system, but it’s clear from our research that this is far from ‘free’ for parents! With even the basics adding up to more than £1,600 per child, per year, this is a significant challenge, particularly for parents on lower incomes.

“Every parent wants to do the best for their children, especially when it comes to schooling, so it’s no surprise to see that many parents are funding educational extras such as overseas trips and additional tuition. All the same, it’s shocking to see how quickly the cost of these adds up.

“As the cost of schooling rises it’s more important than ever that parents think about how they might cover these expenses, should they experience an unexpected loss of income. Family protection – be it life insurance, critical illness cover or income protection – can help parents to have peace of mind, knowing that their budding geniuses have financial support in place, whatever happens.”

Download The Family Finances Report July 2013 PDF (0.87MB)

Watch the animation

* The total basic cost of sending a child to school is £22,596. This figure was calculated by the following method: Parents were asked to give the average cost and frequency of purchase per year for a selection of school related items. The sum of all items taken as an average, is the cost per year per child. This figure was multiplied by the total number of school years (from four to 18) to give the cost per school life. These figures break down as:

Basic school costs

Cost per child, per year



School dinners / packed lunches


Out of school care (e.g. breakfast clubs)








Sports kit





Educational extras

Cost per child, per year

School / private music lessons


Sports activities e.g.practice and out-of-hours fixtures


School trips


School events e.g. proms, fairs, parties etc.


Fundraising events




Musical instruments / hire




** The Aviva “school sums” index showed that in 2008 the average cost of putting a child through school in the UK was £15,940. This figure calculated the cost of state schooling up to the age of 16. The 2013 figure takes into account the fact that the school leaving age will rise to 18 by 2016, impacting all current pupils in year 10 and below as well as new starters.

*** The overall national cost for 2013/2014 was calculated by multiplying the cost per year, per child by the number of full time school children in the UK: 8,008,740. (National Office of Statistics ‘School Census’ 2012).

These figures do not include allowance for inflation or population changes. Aviva commissioned research with Canadean research amongst 1,496 UK parents in May / June 2013. Regional statistics are available on request


Data was sourced from the Aviva Family Finances Report which used findings from over 18,000 people who are members of one of the six groups of families identified above via Canadean Research. This report is a definitive look at the personal finances of families in the UK. Not only does it look at personal wealth, income sources and expenditure patterns but also tracks how these change across the different types of family unit. Further information can be found in a separate news release.


If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:

Sarah Poulter : Aviva Press Office : 01904 452828 : 07800 691569 :
Andy Lane / Christina Gillings : The Wriglesworth Consultancy : 020 7427 1400 :

Notes to editors:

The Aviva Family Finances report is an in-depth study into the financial needs of the 84% of the UK population who live as part of a modern family. Based on customer profiles and Government data Aviva has recognised the six most common types of modern family as:

–         Living in a committed relationship with no plans to have children
–         Living in a committed relationship with plans to have children
–         Living in a committed relationship with one child
–         Living in a committed relationship with two or more children
–         Divorced/separated/widowed with one or more child
–         Single parent raising one or more child alone                                             

Aviva provides insurance, savings and investment products to 34 million customers worldwide.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers and one of Europe’s leading providers of life and general insurance. We combine strong life insurance, general insurance and asset management businesses under one powerful brand. We are committed to serving our customers well in order to build a stronger, sustainable business, which makes a positive contribution to society, and for which our people are proud to work.

Aviva Plc is in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.  In 2012 we invested £5.7m into our UK communities. One in three of our employees were involved in community investment activities which included giving nearly 30,000 hours.

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life, especially education. Find out more at

The Aviva media centre at includes company information and a news release archive.

For broadcast-standard video, please visit

Follow us on twitter:

Back to top