Rejecting an independent school place.

(93 Posts)
feckwit Mon 18-Feb-13 22:25:12

I am finding this so hard to do. My child was offered a place at a local independent school that she desperately wanted to attend but we needed a bursary and she did not get one. Should I send a covering letter explaining our reasons so the school are aware we would have liked her attend and it is purely financial? Or will that look a bit too "woe is me"? School knew we needed a bursary so I am not sure why a full fee paying place was offered really.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 18-Feb-13 22:27:10

Do you mean she didn't get a scholarship? Bursaries are means tested so are different to scholarships. You apply for a bursary once a place has been offered.

Dustylaw Mon 18-Feb-13 22:29:20

Sorry, that's tough on you all. Before you reject the place, phone up and talk to them. You've got nothing to lose and at least you'll probably get more information.

feckwit Mon 18-Feb-13 22:43:00

No, she didn't get a bursary - at this school scholarships are open to all and bursaries to lower income families. We applied for a bursary prior to application but her score was not high enough to be offered (they do it on ability there, so the cleverest poor kids get bursaries not the ones most in need necessarily). Scholarships are up to 20%, bursaries can be up to 100%. We needed the latter. I have emailed school and they said that she just did not achieve a high enough score for a bursary.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 18-Feb-13 22:46:02

That's a crazy system. Have you looked at other schools? They don't all work in the same way.

feckwit Mon 18-Feb-13 22:49:15

There are no others close by unfortunately. We are gutted!

Dromedary Mon 18-Feb-13 22:51:49

You've already clarified the situation with the school. I'm afraid that ability based bursaries are their way of saying that if someone who isn't one of the brightest can't afford to go they're not so bothered to have them that they're prepared to help out financially.
If it's any comfort my DC was offered one of these ability based bursaries, and was also in line for a scholarship. Despite filling out a statement of means the bursary offered was nowhere remotely near enough to allow DC to attend the school, even if we had moved onto a porridge only lifestyle. So DC is not going! I would take the 100% thing with a very big pinch of salt, unless your DC is a genius who will bring untold honour and riches to the school...

YippeeTeenager Mon 18-Feb-13 22:53:22

It's worth writing to the head of school admissions, copying it to the headteacher and the head of the board of governors. You can say exactly what you said above - that your child was desperate to attend, that you really can't afford to do it without a bursary and that you would be eternally grateful if they could reconsider and help in any way. You may very well get a no, but it's always worth another try otherwise you'll always have a nagging doubt that perhaps you could have done more! You never know, there might be someone that got awarded a bursary but isn't going to take it up for whatever reason. Also, there are quite a few people that apply for bursaries when they can really afford the fees so the school would always offer the place anyway. Good luck.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 18-Feb-13 22:53:30

There are charities that can help, it does depend on your circumstances though. The Buttle trust can help if you fit their criteria (sickness in the family/single parent etc). sad A lot of them do have very strict criteria though and won't help unless there's some reason why a private school is necessary.

feckwit Mon 18-Feb-13 22:53:42

thank you, that is very interesting.

Coconutty Mon 18-Feb-13 22:54:54

Totally agree about the 100% bursary thing, unless your child is going to be able to guarantee the school lots of kudos.

feckwit Mon 18-Feb-13 22:56:04

@ladymary - yes we have looked at charities but we don't fit the criteria as we are a couple and no illness, just low income. Never mind, I guess maybe we wouldn't want our child in a school that is only interested in the very wealthy or very clever anyway!

@yippeeteenager, thank you x

Bunbaker Mon 18-Feb-13 22:59:20

We were in the same position two years ago, except that we received back word on the bursary before the exam. I told DD that she needn't take the exam but she wanted to and was offered a place almost immediately. We wrote to the school explaining why DD wouldn't be accepting a place in the hope that they might offer something, but they weren't interested. So DD just goes to the local comprehensive instead.

TotallyBS Mon 18-Feb-13 23:06:41

LadyMary - why is it a 'crazy system'? There are shed loads of people who would like to go private but can't afford it. It's impossible for all these people to be offered bursaries.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 18-Feb-13 23:07:58

I'd always assumed they were based on need rather than scores. My fault, twas a bad assumption.

Dromedary Mon 18-Feb-13 23:10:20

It was the same with us - I wrote explaining that the bursary just wasn't high enough for DC to attend. TBH I wasn't too hopeful as we needed a massively higher bursary than had been offered. Predictably, the school did not change its mind. I have however heard of an instance when they did substantially up their offer, but apparently they were very very keen for that particular child to attend, due to his talent in many areas.
My guess is that they work out the bursaries on the basis of income support figures, not taking into account anything like the fact that you have to commute to work, the child has to commute to school, you have to maintain the house (if you own it) and car (if you own one). If you lived next door to the school, could walk to work, didn't own a car or a house, you might be able to accept the bursary offer, though you would have to cut out everything like even basic holidays, trips out etc. So it was a waste of time for us, and only served for DC to see how the other half lived and then have it snatched away. Dc took it well though, and the revision for the entrance tests was useful in terms of future schooling.

Schmedz Mon 18-Feb-13 23:12:06

More apply for bursary support than the school can provide for so, according to the selection process, those who gain adequate scores are offered a place and those that achieve the best scores are given a bursary or scholarship or both.

TotallyBS Mon 18-Feb-13 23:12:53

feckwit - Maybe you are just venting in which case ignore my comment.

If you aren't venting and you stand by your comment, it's a bit silly to choose a school presumably because of its academic record AND then be pissed off because they only make bursary offers to very clever kids.

Dromedary Mon 18-Feb-13 23:14:09

Something else we found out is that they set the scholarship against the bursary - so if your DC receives a scholarship the fact that you will need to pay less in fees reduces your need for a bursary. So if you qualify for a bursary there is no financial advantage to getting a scholarship too.

LadyMaryQuiteContrary Mon 18-Feb-13 23:14:55

Makes sense now I think about it, Schemdz. It's been a long day and my brain has frazzled

TotallyBS Mon 18-Feb-13 23:18:06

Drome - I have no personal experience of this but parents in the past have posted how with them the bursaries and scholarships were separate. So it obviously differs from school to school.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 19-Feb-13 06:49:51

Scholarships are less common than they were, say, 10 years ago. Even then, they were in the region of 10/20%, so didn't really help someone who wasn't already able to attend.

With work towards verifying compliance with Charity Commission fuzziness, most schools have transferred their scholarship fund to the bursary fund.

A well run school will not have a vague, ready to expand, bursary fund. They will have strict rules about how many bursaries and who qualifies. If you don't qualify, then you don't get. If a school does roll over when you beg, then that is something to worry about, in terms of the overall finances of the school.

The vast majority of bursary funds are carved out of existing fee income. Very few schools have the endowments of Eton, for example. Most parents struggle to pay full fees, so it's unreasonable to keep asking them to dip into their pockets again and again. They are the same parents who are the squeezed middle, expected to pay higher taxes, lose child benefit etc.

The bursary fund cannot be spread across all those who are offered places. It would not mean a low-income family would be any closer to being able to attend. The remission has to be very significant, eg 80 - 100%. If they have decided that two or three other candidates are more worthy of benefiting from the bursary fund, you have to just accept that.

eminemmerdale Tue 19-Feb-13 07:33:00

We are in a similar position - dd passed the difficult entrance test, we were offered a% bursary but simply couldn't match it. I have to say this particular school have bent over backwards to try to help but sadly, just don;t have the money to top it up further, very disappointing yes, but sadly we have to suck it up and know she is clever enought to do well anywhere

outtolunchagain Tue 19-Feb-13 08:32:30

Bursaries at out school are assessed on performance in exam plus report .The bursaries are 5 or 6 times oversubscribed what other method would be fair . There are a considerable number of people on 100% bursaries but also there is a sliding scale down to 10%.

OP that is a shame ,but with respect you took a calculated risk . I would reject he place and give your reason. you never know there may be another chance at 13 or 16

LIZS Tue 19-Feb-13 08:40:24

Sent a covering note that having carefully considered the implications of their offer you are unable to take up the full fee place for your dd at present time. Are there any future entry points , perhaps she could reapply at 6th form ? They will offer to those they want but unfortunately this year she didn't make the cut for financial assistance- school aren't to know that you couldn't call on alternative resources at the 11th hour or circumstances may have altered.

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