The news blew around the Montessori world on Friday: Young Prince George of Cambridge, aged 2, only son of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton), third in line to the throne of England—will follow in his father’s path to Montessori school. In a departure from palace tradition, the young Prince William and his brother Harry attended a Montessori “nursery” in the mid-1980s, reportedly at the insistence of their mother, Diana, Princess of Wales, herself a one-time Montessori classroom assistant.
(It’s possible George’s parents were also motivated by a letter from a 10-year-old Dutch Montessori student which included a copy of Susan Mayclin Stephenson’s The Joyful Child, but we’ll probably never know.)
The news coverage is pretty good, and fairly accurate things are said about Montessori schools, if without a lot of depth. You do get a sense of how tightly the British Royal Family controls the media narrative, as the brief account is pretty similar across publications. The BBC has an official announcement, the Mirror does a nice job, citing a three-hour work period and student choice, and Hello! magazine has probably the cutest picture:
But the headline that caught my eye was Prince George to attend £33-a-day Montessori nursery in Norfolk in The Telegraph. The Telegraph is a reliably Conservative, somewhat populist British paper (and multimedia company), so I wasn’t sure what to make of the figure in the headline: is £33-a-day a lot, or a little? Turns out, it’s a little:
The school costs just £5.50 per hour, or £33 per day, and 23 of its 27 children are in receipt of funding. It also has some children with special needs. In contrast, nurseries near Kensington Palace can cost upwards of £15,000 per year.
£33 per day would be £165/week, or £6600/year for 40 full weeks (I bet the Royals take some time off in the summer, even though they both work). In dollars, those numbers are about $8.25/hour, $50/day, $250/week, and $9,900/year. (Those posh places near the Palace would be about $22,500.) That’s about on the middle for U.S. Children’s House programs. What’s more, it seems like there’s a commitment to access—more from the Telegraph:
… a modestly-priced Montessori nursery school in Norfolk where most parents get financial help to pay the fees.
… Prince George’s new school was opened 23 years ago and has 27 children, including 23 in receipt of funding, meaning they get 15 free hours of education per week.
… All three and four year olds get free child care but two year olds get it only if they are in the poorest 40 per cent of families.
… Westacre says it has “an all inclusive open door approach” and has in the past taught children on the autistic spectrum and physically disabled children.
The school, a small cluster of buildings down a private lane in the Norfolk countryside, has battened down its public presence, if it ever had one—probably a good idea considering the publicity this is bound to attract. But they’re happy to have the young prince among their charges:
A spokesman for the school said: “We are looking forward to welcoming George to our nursery where he will get the same special experience as all of our children.”