According to a survey undertaken by the Independent Schools Council in 2010, average fees at an independent day school are now £3,571 per term. If you opt to send your child to a school which also offers boarding those fees rise to £4,186 per term – and if your child does board, you will find yourself paying an average of just over £8,000 per term.

Remember too, that these fees are just for the basics – they don’t include the almost mandatory extras such as sports equipment, music lessons and school trips.

Despite these figures, parents – many of whom were not privately educated themselves are still opting to send their children to independent schools, even though this decision can place a huge strain on family finances.

With school fees coming out of taxed income – meaning a 40% taxpayer needs to earn £20,000 to pay £12,000 of school fees – it’s not unusual to find couples with two children in private education devoting the whole of one income to paying the school fees.

So if it’s possible that your children will be privately educated it makes sense to start planning now – and a good way to start is by talking to your independent financial adviser.

Traditionally, school fees have been funded by regular savings, by investment of a lump sum or by a combination of the two. A good IFA will be able to prepare you a financial plan, projecting future school fees and advising you how much needs to be saved or invested to meet the fees. In addition, he’ll make sure that the money is invested as tax efficiently as possible. With staff salaries making up a significant proportion of school fees they are likely to rise faster than inflation, so the earlier you can start planning the better.

Many families turn to the grandparents for help with the school fees – again, it’s a good idea to take independent advice, particularly if existing trusts are being used or new ones set up.

School fees can place a real burden on a family, and no-one should underestimate the commitment in paying for a child’s education. However, the right advice taken at the right time can not only make a significant difference to the overall cost of the fees – it can provide you with peace of mind as well.

Sources: Independent Schools Council (ISC) 2010 Census