Just as you'll find at many bricks and mortar private schools, there are also exam entrance fees to pay. Exam fees are paid directly to the exam centre and you should expect to pay upwards of £100 for each IGCSE exam and around £250 for A Levels, depending on the subject chosen. So, while students can access a UK private education for a fraction of the cost of studying on campus, you will need to factor in the extra cost of exam fees. This could be around £1,000 for nine IGCSEs and £750 for three A Levels.
Also, look at payment terms; schools such as King’s InterHigh offer the flexibility of a rolling contract where you can pay every half term, while others will ask you to commit to an annual contract.
To offer an idea of what an online secondary education will cost in the UK, here's a snapshot of some annual and termly fees for 2021-22.
|Online School||Admissions||Termly Fee||Annual Fee|
|King’s InterHigh||Years 10-13||From £4,500|
|Harrow School Online||Years 12-13||£5,250||£15,750|
|Minerva's Virtual Academy||Years 9-11||£2,500||£6,500|
|Cambridge Home School Online||Years 7-13||£9,000|
|Pearson Online Academy UK Global||Years 7-13||£9,000|
|My Online Schooling||Years 7-13||From £324 per subject|
|Lady Evelyn Independent School||Years 7-13||From £1,165||From £3,495|
|Oxford Education Online||Years 7-13||£3,300||£9,000|
There are more than 20 full-time online schools in the UK, and they are currently unregulated. While they are legally allowed to operate as they fall under the category of homeschooling in many countries (including the UK), they are not currently accredited in the UK. However, the UK is launching a voluntary Online Education Accreditation Scheme (OEAS) in early 2022 which will accredit schools that meet certain standards based on the legal expectations of independent schools in the UK.
In 2021, a small number of schools took part in a pilot OEAS inspection by Ofsted, the UK school inspectorate, including King's InterHigh, Sophia High School, iBOS and Apricot Learning Online. Ofsted says that the Department for Education is “looking at how children, parents and local authorities can be assured of the quality of education and appropriate safeguarding arrangements through an online schools accreditation scheme”.
Schools may also be members of COBIS (Council of British International Schools) and/or the Council of International Schools, both international networks of schools.
Next: How do online schools ‘teach’?