* Read Country Life’s Autumn 2013 School Life supplement in full

I mainly shop at Waitrose, but I do the big Saturday shop at Tesco.

We’re looking forward to a trip to a safari park in South Africa, but,

in the meantime, we’ve had years of camping in France. So it is with education. Paying for the luxury brand from finger painting to freshers’ week is not the only option.

 

Stamford School, Lincolnshire

Why should you pay most on sixth form education for your child? These are the traditional public-school years, wrapping up both GCSEs and A levels. Unlike Vegas, what happens here doesn’t stay here, but can stick like glue for decades.

It’s not just the exams, it’s all the rest: captaining the 1st XI, editing the school paper, starring in the play, being house prefect. Independent schools are professionals at guiding young people through A-level choices, university open days and interviews.

In addition may have bigger savings to draw on at this stage of life -the longer you’ve waited before shelling out for school fees, thelonger you’ve had to save. Even the most academically and socially elite public schools are now eager to attract the ablest youngsters from the State sector.

Indeed, being low on funds can be a plus when it comes to winning scholarships and means-tested bursaries – if you’ve got a bright or talented child, the poorer you are the better.

Janette Wallis is a senior editor of The Good Schools Guide

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How to decide which five years of school fees to invest in

* Why you should spend most on fees for pre-prep schools

* Why you should spend most on fees for prep schools

* Why you should spend most on schools for your 11-16 year old