Applying for a prep school bursary

(30 Posts)
diamondsinthesand Sun 07-Apr-13 12:45:38

Can anyone advise on realistic chances of a sizable prep school bursary? Does your dc have to be brilliant? We've been trying for a few but no success and getting discouraged now. Dc is very high IQ but falling behind in huge state primaryclass and no sport at the school either - with 1hr school run theres not alot of time for afterschool classes.

Should we just keep trying or give up and accept its too difficult? Its an exhausting struggle to stay positive.
Thinking of different state primary - better one - and then trying again in a year or two but could be disruptive changing schools so often. Am I just in a dreamland about the possibility of hugely assisted place?
All thoughts/comments welcome.

LIZS Sun 07-Apr-13 12:49:34

Much harder in prep than secondary. They are awarded less on academic performance than financial circumstances and to fail repeatedly suggests you are not meeting the basic criteria. Very few get a significant amount as they are very competitive. I think you need to be looking into the reasons there is such a gap - a private school won't necessarily benefit him/her otherwise.

KathySeldon Sun 07-Apr-13 13:15:19

Hi diamond. my two dc are both on bursaries at their preps.

Can I ask how far along the process you get before you get a 'no'?
Ds's school use a sliding scale for family income, dd's just gave us what we asked for!!!

Are you explaining why dc current school is failing dc, and how the particular school you are approaching would benefit both dc and the school? Are you checking out the prep schools strengths and saying how they would benefit your dc etc etc?? Basically imo you have to sell dc to the school so that they really want them at their school rather than their rival school.

PM me if you want, and good luck. Keep trying if you really believe it's the right thing to do.

TomDudgeon Sun 07-Apr-13 13:21:12

My two also have bursaries
My eldests is very large
The younger didn't get one at first but was then awarded one as a top up after getting a scholarship
Both were let down by state schools and are now able to reach their full potential.
Ill happily by pm if you want

middleclassonbursary Sun 07-Apr-13 13:45:45

Both my DS's were on a huge bursary at their prep in the heady days when bursaries looked like they were going to be very readily available. My view is different from LIZS it's all about how academic your DC is. It does depend on where your prep generally sends children too of course my DS's old prep was full boarding and feeding into the big names Eton etc. Basically now most bursaries (not all my DS2's isn't) are attached to scholarships so unless you know your financial situation is going to take an enourmous turn for the better you are likely to need a bursary again at 13+ and in 90% of cases a scholarship therefore you DC is either going to have to be pretty smart academically or musical arty or sporty although I have noticed the scholarships with generous bursaries are decreasingly attached to the last three. You have to look at it from the schools point of view failure to find you a senior school that will give you a bursary will mean you have to go back into the state sector.
You say your DC has a high IQ how do you know this do you have an ed.. Psych report stating this? If you have you need to be waiving this about. Most prep schools outside of London are struggling to fill their vacancies (what ever their websites say) they like nothing more than to detail their children's successes all over their websites so you need to think about what your DC can offer the scho that they can publicise preferably now or in the future obviously scholarships are 1 or even normal entrance into places like Eton etc look good, or sporting prowess even if the school dont offer it. My friends DD's success on her pony was slapped al over their prep schools website even though she'd never had a riding lesson at the school. You really have to sell your DC.
Finally bursaries are harder to find at prep level as prep schools just don't have as much money and you may be earning too much as well.

Labro Sun 07-Apr-13 15:26:40

my ds is on a large bursary. As others have said, what reasons are they giving for turning you down? At prep and secondary bursaries are means tested so its likely more than one failure indicates on paper they have calculated that you are over the threshold for assistance. Are you looking particularly at selective prep school or ones that claim to be 'non selective' as this can also have a bearing to how much is in the bursary pot. I've also been told recently that the
expectation at secondary level is that the parents should have the means to fund a third of the fees/costs

meditrina Sun 07-Apr-13 15:35:22

It's terribly dependent on the school. Many preps do not offer bursaries at all, and those at do may have a cap on maximum size of award (leaving it still unaffordable to you).

As far as it is possible to generalise, they give bursaries to children they want to see in the school. First call is usually existing pupils whose families have suffered a financial reverse. After that, it's those they like the look of - academic, sporty, arty, musical good all rounder, nice to be around: each school will have its own list.

Also, what do you mean by "trying for a few"? What year is DC? Applications would typically need to be in during autumn term the year before entry, and offers made Jan-March.

middleclassonbursary Sun 07-Apr-13 17:13:16

The thing about bursaries is that there is no standard formula for working out how much you'll get the figure of an income of £40 000 pa is often bandied about on MN but obviously for boarding with fees often coming in at £30 000+ this would be unrealistic.
It all depends on how much a school senior or prep has in it's bursary fund it's priorities as to who gets first call on that money and what each individual school is looking for. A school like Milfield would probably very seriously consider a future Olympic equestrian who was academically not brilliant whereas Colet Court/St Paul's are going to be looking the academically very able. Many preps do have selection days for potential bursary pupils eg Dragon others wait till entrance exams have been sat and award scholarships/bursaries to top performing canditates.
Frankly going on about your poor primary school I doubt will have that much impact as many could say the same thing!
OP if we knew where you were considering you might get more specific advise.

diamondsinthesand Tue 09-Apr-13 12:34:46

Thank you for all these posts - reading through all the viewpoints has really helped.

The secondary scholarship is a good point, thanks middleonbursary - I already made the mistake of saying 'oh we don't mind where he goes on to, he can go to state school if he wants', as genuinely not thinking that far ahead and being confident that he would probably get a schol. to senior school anyway - but that did rankle with them from what I could see, so I take the point about their needing high acheivers.

Will maybe just keep going (we started in September last year). Just found out no places avialable at the better state primary either and current one is not sending school reports out, except after much hassling, and perhaps not taking this seriously as ds not top of class.

I was thinking the reason we were being turned down was because we wanted too much bursary (defo low income) or because I only work part time (have a disabiity which lets me down plus years spent as sahm so not much experience sad) The schools haven't said why not but I will write and ask. Another school has not bothered to let us know either way after a scholarship exam - no contact at all so a bit mystifying but have felt too hopeless to send bursary form back yet thinking it was no good - maybe thats why.

The Ed Psych report sounds a really good idea though - how would I go about getting one? - maybe this is the missing bit. So far, he's done IQ tests on the computer and scored high on VR. All other DC's, (all older), got awards and scholarships etc with ease and no tutoring but it must have got tougher recently - just keep thinking theres something I've missed/not aware of. Is it not sending the registration form & cheque back until we know he's got a place? Getting his hair cut? Smarter shirt? (ouch - not happy place to be as a mum)

Really trying not to think 'its because am too fat and not wearing Boden clothes' :O !

LIZS Tue 09-Apr-13 13:40:47

You can request an Ed Psych report through the school SENCO if they agree he is sufficiently "behind" otherwise you would have to pay privately for one. tbh you sound as if you are randomly applying for bursaries rather than seeking out a particular school or two which would suit him and he would benefit. How old is he ? Maybe they don't even have spaces in his year group or the funds you require but the deadline for a term's notice for next year will be approaching so situation may change. Even so rude of the school not to respond after tests, worth checking it hasn't gone astray.

difficultpickle Tue 09-Apr-13 14:12:49

No idea about a bursary but we didn't pay a registration fee at all when ds got his prep school scholarship . We did have to pay the deposit (part returned in second term fees, balance on leaving school) but that was only after we accepted the place. I doubt that would be a reason why you have been unsuccessful. People who genuinely need bursaries cannot afford to pay registration fees for schools their dcs may not even go to.

Re not hearing from the school after scholarship exams I would give them a call. When we were applying for a scholarship for ds I ended up on first name terms with the registrar, which proved very useful for getting info.

KathySeldon Tue 09-Apr-13 14:57:19

HOw old is dc? round here the prep schools don't offer scholarships. Do you mean scholarship tests, or entrance tests?

eminemmerdale Tue 09-Apr-13 15:00:38

Just been through this misery. dd - extremely bright, sailed through the entrance tests etc. Prep school knew we would be after a sizeable bursary, and obviously our financial form showed our deep level of poorness! We weere offered something we simply had no chance of making up. sad Be more than clear from the beginning exactly what you would need and try to get them to at least give you a good idea of your chances sad

middleclassonbursary Tue 09-Apr-13 18:03:54

OP where are you applying too if you don't want to say what area? What sort of prep a large well known one that goes to 13 or a small one? The later is likely to be far less generous if you want a bursary.
I've learnt from personal experience the golden rule with bursaries is to talk to the bursar before you go too far down the admissions process. Find a couple of school you like the look of read the websites etc even attend an open day then work out honestly what size bursary you would need be realistic, then contact the bursar preferably face to face and then explain that you've love the school but would need a bursary but it would need to be sizable e.g. 70% reduction if the bursar chokes on his afternoon tea then you know its a no goer, if he still listening and not lying out cold on the floor ask if they would be prepared to consider such an amount. Emphasis that you obviously don't want to raise you DC's hopes or waste you or their time if they don't offer bursaries of this sort of size. You're not asking them to commit to offering you particular child a bursary you just want to know whether bursaries of this size are something you they would even consider.
Your DC definitely does have to offer the school something so as a general principle its going to have to be academic ability although extraordinary ability on a musical instrument will be accepted by some. You're going to probably need proof so an ed. psych report would be a good thing privately will cost at least £500 or fantastic SAT results.
I don't think working part time especially with primary aged children is an issue and especially if you have a disability.
As I've already said bursaries especially large bursaries are in general becoming increasingly difficult to get those attached to scholarships are becoming increasingly fought over and at prep level even harder to find. You may have to resign yourself to the fact that you may not get one. At secondary level it is marginally easier it might be worth identifying a school now and perhaps aiming for a scholarship/bursary and spending your money on a tutor. There are more generous schools out there St Pauls/Colet Court is worth looking at if you're DS is really bright and you live in London, Christs Hospital if you would consider boarding is very generous, I believe Manchester Grammar is generous, as is Magdalen College School in Oxford I've heard on the grape vine that all of these may offer generous bursaries not attached to scholarships, St Pauls/Christs certainly do and there will be other it might be worth starting another thread detailing you are.
Good luck. Do PM me if I can be of any further help.

inthesark Tue 09-Apr-13 18:55:40

What sort of numbers would they be looking for from an Ed Psych's report? 99th percentile? Or higher?

middleclassonbursary Tue 09-Apr-13 19:32:10

It all depends on how academic the prep/senior school is. Children who might not be scholarship material for super selective like Westminster would probably easily obtain a scholarship/bursary into a less selective school.
Ditto with music.

AnteaterAgain Tue 09-Apr-13 23:29:48

Agree with Middleclasson bursary.
Also
You will have a much better chance at a prep school that is attached to a senior school. They will see it as a long term investment/bet.
Stand alone Preps have much shorter time scales.
Stand alone preps see very musical/sporty/arty kids as possible scholars at senior school. (and all the prep schools luvv those scholarships!!)
Our DS got a fair % off prep school for sport and music. He has gone on to get a music scholarship at a major senior school so everyones happy. (and he plays like an angel of course!)
Musically they should be around or above grade 5 in 2 instruments. Sports awards look for county/national levels minimum.
Good luck

lisad123everybodydancenow Tue 09-Apr-13 23:38:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LIZS Wed 10-Apr-13 07:34:16

I think funds will already have been allocated for September entry. the Ed Psych report is not purely about his IQ but to examine the possible reasons why his performance isn't matching potential and he is falling behind. What does his current school say ? Any school considering him will want to be aware of any additional need - long or short term- before accepting him and you may need to fund any one to one etc to catch up .

middleclassonbursary Wed 10-Apr-13 08:06:12

"Musically they should be around or above grade 5 in 2 instruments. Sports awards look for county/national levels minimum"
My DC, unlike his school which has a very good reputation for it's music, is completely non musical but I understand that at his school you need to be at least grade 6 to even be in the running for a music scholarship and higher if its a popular instrument. You can have an informal interview/assessment with the head of music to get an idea as to whether your even if for a chance and I believe many schools do this. Just like contacting the bursar its definitely worth speaking to heads of art/music/PE etc if your hoping for a scholarship/bursary because they will give you some idea of what they're looking for as not all want the same thing.

KathySeldon Wed 10-Apr-13 13:54:38

Have I missed how old dc is? And what particular talents he has to offer a school?

diamondsinthesand Sun 14-Apr-13 13:58:08

Well, this has opened my eyes a bit and now think I was living in a naive dream world (as I suspected).
Obviously they don't just think 'what a nice lively boy, we'll have him'.

From the standards expected (grade 6 for 8yr olds??) I'm amazed any child gets one at all, which goes to show how out of sync I am!
Unless that was grade 6 for 11yr olds? Thats not so bad.

My ds is 8 and not even properly started on an instrument yet as we can't find a teacher, and also not done any real sports. Choral scholarship was best chance as he has exceptional ear for music - perfect pitch & memory etc - but lost out through not being focussed - too fidgetty.
I'm now really surprised all my other kids got scholarships and bursaries - they weren't that good at the time (although they got better, ending up top in some subjects and one to Ox Uni so far).

Think the choice is to metamorphose into different kind of mum (not so laid back) or find new approach. The difficulty is having been 'pushed' in childhood, I'm now allergic to 'pushiness' with my own and think happiness is more important and effective in the long run.

LIZS - you are right bout the timing, and now we're into starting a year later I should think.
If we can get private tutoring and some extra curricular in the meantime, we might try again next year. Then if he can't cut it, he can't and thats that - its only that fear that he will yearn for the career he was 'made for' when its too late and the doors are closed e.g. music.

Thank you everyone for all these comments, they're extremely helpful.

difficultpickle Sun 14-Apr-13 14:09:42

Ds got a choral scholarship and he is definitely in the fidgety non-focussed category. He does have an amazing voice but has had to learn to knuckle down and focus (they are very strict). Fortunately he loves singing as otherwise it would be a real slog. I wouldn't recommend it unless dcs really really love singing. When ds becomes a full chorister he will be doing 22.5 hours singing a week, which is like doing another school week on top of his school week.

He also has to learn two instruments and have music theory classes. I'm pretty laid back but do encourage ds to practise every day (and offer bribes!). Fortunately he does most of his practise at school being supervised by people who know what they're doing.

happygardening Sun 14-Apr-13 14:38:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KathySeldon Sun 14-Apr-13 16:10:23

A music career would not be out of the question from a state school.

diamondsinthesand Sun 14-Apr-13 19:37:02

Bisjo - thats encouraging - it means they're not all looking for polished singers from day one. I knwo what you mean about the singing commitment though. wE had a chorister in the family before.

The thing about music is its so competitve - a bulk of technique and experience to have under your belt by a young age. So the high focussed concentration and demands of a more rigorous disciplined school are a help in acheiving this plus extra self esteem. But music isn't everything, and its not well paid career usually. But thats why i was thinking private, not noisy crowded state sector which doesn't suit every child unless your lucky and near a good one.

diamondsinthesand Sun 14-Apr-13 19:37:24

Sorry about spelling!

difficultpickle Sun 14-Apr-13 19:50:23

This is a helpful video that talks about life as a chorister and what they are looking for in applicants.

Ds wants to be a jockey or a formua 1 driver.

diamondsinthesand Sun 14-Apr-13 19:53:56

More chance of Formula 1 driver as most musicians too scared of injury to ride!

AnteaterAgain Mon 15-Apr-13 09:08:50

bisjo - our ds's sound v similar..!
DS has just returned from his 3rd week riding out for different racehorse trainers (last one 8 hours by train away!) He is convinced hes going to be the next AP.
We see him as the next 'singing' jockeysmile

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