Costs – School v’s Home Ed

Following on from this BBC article there has been a lot of discussion on home ed forums about relative costs.  The overwhelming majority of people claim home ed is cheaper, makes me wonder how they home educate and what school they send their children too. as that is so not my experience.


So far School child has cost me around £30 in clothes for this academic year.  He still fitted most of last years uniform so just have new shoes and 2 pairs of trousers and some socks.  Even last year with the whole kit it rolled in at less than £100 for clothes, £150 if you include shoes and trainers – only other footwear he has are hiking boots.  He needs and costs me far less in clothes now.  He spends most of his time in uniform, school or scouts (that usually gets 3 airings a week), or pyjamas.  Of course he needs other clothes for weekends/holidays but far less and they last far longer.  Non-school child still needs school trousers and shoes for scouts and other ‘smart’ needs.  He also needs more in variety of clothes and footwear and they seem to get trashed quicker.  Plus he’s with me!  Now Jack is in school clothes shopping is limited to a once a year online shop from Sports Direct and a few bits for Christmas.  Sam passes through places with me and we see stuff we like and pick up bits here and there.


School child cycles pretty much every day.  Bus is for really wet and windy days, puncture or other bike problems and far below par days.  Probably comes in at considerably less than £50 a year.  I am not sure I want to think about how much I spend on transport going on trips and to home ed activities with Sam – last week buses, ferries and trains came in to around £75.  It was a busy week and included a trip to London and a boat there.  However even though we have reduced excursions from what the once were, I’d be surprised if I get much change from £50 most months just on local transport plus we’ve been to London 3 times this term already.


Is this really a school cost?  Always surprised to see it included.  If you have children surprise, surprise they do need feeding.  Only special things I buy for school are cartons of drink which roll in at oh £3 a month? Everything else is bread, cheese, cucumber, fruit etc.  Standard inclusions in the weekly shop.  I suppose he does have an amazing ability to get through lunch boxes so can add maybe £10 a year there!  Home eding we often end up picking up lunch out because I haven’t had time to prepare or we need to retreat to the warmth for a coffee and a break.  Definitely could cut costs if I had to here but would not be cheaper than school lunches, would just be the equivalent of school lunches taken out.  Eating at home is no cheaper, a sandwich is still a sandwich whether you take it to school or make and eat it fresh.


I guess this is where perception comes into it and there is a marked difference in Primary/Secondary.  We only did a year of Primary and there was more of a drip, drip £5 here, £10 here – some that did make me roll my eyes.  I can imagine it mounting up.  Secondary doesn’t seem to ask for money for small trips.

At Secondary trips cost £100’s however limited numbers go and the pressure to sign up isn’t there.  The most expensive one Jack has done so far was £40 to go and watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  But if he does do more (and I am hoping he will) then to me they are not a school cost.  They are voluntary opportunities being offered to my child.  He and we wouldn’t dream of signing up purely because others are it is the opportunity that is key and if some one was to offer the same opportunity to Sam I’d grasp it for him too if he wanted.  If I want to replicate the same opportunities for trips abroad as the school offers it would cost far more as we would all be going.  In some cases that is preferable of course, things we’d like to do as a family in others I’ll happily pay the teachers to do the hard work.

I do spend a lot on home educating days out (mostly on transport and food which I’ve already covered).  I could cut down but getting out to museums etc and experiencing and seeing is such a central part of our education philosophy that to save here would change the way we educate and I wouldn’t be providing as good an education as I want.


Mine read a lot.  School v’s home has no impact on costs for general reading matter.  Apart from J has access to a better library at school than the local children’s one.

For text books, I have spent £1.98 on bag size dictionaries for Jack since he started school.  How much have I spent on educational books, resources and tutoring for Sam in the last 2 and a bit years?  A lot!  I would estimate about £100 a month easily.  I could spend less but I can afford what I do spend and books and hands on materials play such a big roll in our education style.  We do sell on stuff after use so do recoup some of the costs.


At school they are all covered and Jack attends 2 or 3 free after school clubs.  At home all this needs paying for individually.  Of course it is optional and actually for Sam doesn’t cost that much.  What he does as evening activities he would still do if at school.  But to give him the same opportunities as Jack to take part in group sports and/or drama would add up.

Charity Donations:

Another gap between Secondary and Primary I expect.  Unless a child is motivated to organise something themselves at Secondary then the charity contributions asked for by the school (well J’s school) are £5 a year ish.  Aware Primary rates are a lot higher!


School =free, home ed = costs.


This is the biggest financial factor.  Home educating requires very inventive strategies if both parents are to work.  However, many manage it (including us) and school is not childcare, there are holidays, sick days, early finishes, sports days and parent’s meetings.  I did comment that when Jack was in primary school there were weeks it felt like you were there every day for something.  Work and children are a hard combination to balance.


The bottom line though is the costs of home ed and state school do not compare as they are so different an experience.  For me home ed is more comparable to and definitely cheaper than an Independent school.

I do spend a lot on home ed and there are savings I could make but for me I feel that to offer the depth of education I want we need the books, resources and days out.  We need tutors to fill the gaps in my skills (languages and music really), the home ed group costs to get the group experience/social aspect.  We don’t spend a lot on any one thing but it does add up.  But for Sam home education is undoubtedly a happier and healthier place and you can’t put a value on that.

3 thoughts on “Costs – School v’s Home Ed”

  1. Whilst I do not have personal experience of children in school, the number of folks who find home ed cheaper has surprised me! We too spend a lot on books…

    1. I think much of it is per­cep­tion and what peo­ple include in home ed/school costs. The main dif­fer­ence is in home ed you are more in con­trol of when and where you spend the money.

      I am sur­prised when peo­ple say they spend £200 a year or some­thing on home ed. They must have far bet­ter libraries and lots of free, very local group activ­i­ties. We could cut our costs but to to any­where near that level.

      Kids are just expen­sive full stop.

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