ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.

Private school bursaries - am I missing something?

(81 Posts)
SecretPlansAndCleverTricks Wed 25-Jul-12 18:44:29

A couple of the families from DDs reception class have older children at a private school 30 mins away on hefty bursaries - they pay very little due to a low income. In conversation with other mums, many of them are confidently planning to send their children privately 'depending on how big a bursary we get'.

These are families who on low incomes, supported mainly by tax credits (usually because one parent chooses to SAH). But they all see private education as very much within their reach, whereas DH and I could only dream of sending the DCs privately - we both work, and are (just) over the TC threshold.

Am I missing something? Is private school something you apply for with the TCs? I don't want to sound like a benefits basher - but it just seems wrong that private ed is easy for the very rich, and the very poor, but not in between?

EdithWeston Wed 25-Jul-12 18:48:06

It all depends on the school, and the health of its bursary fund.

Many expect families to take all reasonable steps to maximise income (realising assets, all adults working) but some do not.

I tis definitely the squeezed middle who have been priced out over the last 20 years or so.

Llareggub Wed 25-Jul-12 18:54:58

I am surprised that you are so confident about these families being in receipt of tax credits. I have no idea who claims it at school. It isn't exactly a riveting topic of conversation, is it?

Anypointinseeingdoc Wed 25-Jul-12 18:58:43

I have never discussed my income with anyone at the school gates, though naturally people will just assume and jump to conclusions. How do you know they are in receipt of tax credits?

BeingFluffy Wed 25-Jul-12 19:27:36

So what if they are on tax credits? I was on a low income when my daughter got a full scholarship to a private school. She got it because the proprietor liked me and she liked DD and she needed more girls in the school. Later on when I went back to regular work we paid for DD2 to go there.

We applied in response to an advert because my DD was badly bullied in her state school reception class and the school refused to tackle it. Believe me, private is not always better as I found out later to my cost...

Mintyy Wed 25-Jul-12 19:31:58

I know what you mean about the sahp thing, SecretPlans.

Someone I know sends her child to a top public school on a very generous bursary because they are under the income threshold. But if she worked they would be over that threshold and wouldn't qualify and wouldn't be able to afford it.

Its not what I thought bursaries were all about.

ClaireBunting Wed 25-Jul-12 19:41:29

I think the situation the OP describes is a ticking bomb.

No private school can sustain unlimited children on large bursaries.

The amount of fee income a non-endowed school can set aside for scholarships, bursaries and fee remission is 10 - 15%. They have to distribute these funds wisely - small scholarships for marketing, sibling/teacher discounts, bursaries for armed forces, clergy, foundation children, hardship for existing pupils, hardship for new pupils.

If a school is accepting a disproportionate number of new pupils on large bursaries, this is an indication of being desperate for pupils. They will be operating in the red, as well as putting fees up for those pupils who actually pay.

What well run school do is have a range of bursaries and scholarships available for new students, eg one full scholarship, two or three 50% - subject to a very thorough means-testing. The means-testing will spot SAHM as a lifestyle choice and reduce the reward as appropriate. Means-testing expects you to have a job, extend your mortgage, sell your jewellery.

Anypointinseeingdoc Wed 25-Jul-12 19:51:36

How do they know if you have jewellery to sell? I have just posted on another thread that I don't have any. Not that I am in a position to consider private education but if we applied for a bursary would they come and search my house for jewels?

SecretPlansAndCleverTricks Wed 25-Jul-12 19:53:04

I know they are on tax credits, because they have very frankly stated their incomes in a sort of 'i am so very poor and my dc and will walk get huge bursaries and even though secondary school is not for seven years I will make sure am confident that my income will still remain at a low enough level to get a bursary' conversation.

SecretPlansAndCleverTricks Wed 25-Jul-12 19:54:01

walk? random word appears in post...

SecretPlansAndCleverTricks Wed 25-Jul-12 19:56:40

I dunno, everyone was discussing the merits of local private schools, and saying confidently which WILL be best for their DC, and i just... coudn't join in.

For me, they may as well have been discussing what caribbean island to buy. It's out of my reach.

joanofarchitrave Wed 25-Jul-12 19:57:21

I wonder if it is actually a 'grandparents' bursary' but they would rather not say so, or a specific award such as a music scholarship but they are trying not to make a big deal out of it in case they get judged for boasting?

Best not to think about it tbh.

SecretPlansAndCleverTricks Wed 25-Jul-12 19:59:06

Maybe the couple of families who already have it have caused a level of expectation that isn't realistic.

SoggySummer Wed 25-Jul-12 19:59:11

Why dont you apply for a bursary for your DC??

DOnt assume just because you earn xyz you wont get one or one thats affordable.

All independent schools are excatly that - independent. What one school may offer one family may differ greatly from the next.

bobs Wed 25-Jul-12 20:02:19

My understanding was that for those trying for bursaries, their kids still have to have an above level of intelligence to be accepted. Unfortunately, once they are there they can feel a little "left out" or even picked on.sneered at if their parents cannot afford the exras like school trips

Mintyy Wed 25-Jul-12 20:07:37

The intelligence thing is a read herring bobs. Plenty of children are intelligent enough to qualify for a bursary, but not many have that combined with the right kind of poverty in the parents.

TangoSierra Wed 25-Jul-12 20:08:05

There will be very few 100% bursaries on offer these days. Presuming those you are talking about will all be trying for the same independent school, I doubt they will all get a place.
Plus they have to have a good reason to gain a bursary. They don't give a place to any old tom dick and haz who turn up for one.
There is an application process and each applicant is considered before a 'board' I believe.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 25-Jul-12 20:10:33

You're more or less right OP. Bursaries were designed to allow disadvantaged children access. They are heavily means-tested. The children will still have to pass the same entrance examination as everyone else.

Some schools also have scholarships, those are awarded purely on the basis of merit (be it academic, sporting, music etc).

Odmedod Wed 25-Jul-12 20:17:16

The (extremely good, one of the best in the country) private secondary near us has a sliding scale of fees, according to a family's income. The do however also take into account a family's assets (i.e. property etc) so any of these SAHP who live in modest to large sized homes would not be eligible for hefty fee-subsidies. That said, if your child is very bright, and you live in social housing on a minimal income, your fees can be about £20 p.a., with uniform bursary too etc smile

TangoSierra Wed 25-Jul-12 20:21:00

20 quid??? Well I suppose that is good if it gives a lower income family a chance at private school.

Mintyy Wed 25-Jul-12 20:22:43

I think bursaries are a good thing and long may they continue.

I just don't see why they should go to middle class families who know how to play the system by deliberately keeping their income just low enough.

middleclassonbursary Wed 25-Jul-12 20:23:10

OP there are numerous threads about bursaries on MN. As a general principle there are no hard and fast rules. We know of one family who applied for a bursary from two well known London day school and one offered 85% them the 45%! There are three criteria how much money the individual school has, and in turn how many are applying for that money and how much a school wants your DC.

difficultpickle Wed 25-Jul-12 21:17:03

Bursaries are reviewed annually. If a family has a low income because one of the parents chooses not to work this will only work so long as they have young children. Once they get to school age there is an expectation that both parents will work and the bursary will be reduced.

No idea how that works in practice. It is a bit like the standard phrase about releasing equity to fund school fees. I'd assume that can only be done if you have the income to service an increased mortgage.

lisad123 Wed 25-Jul-12 21:24:30

We applied for a bursary this year for dd1 to local small prep school. She was given 70% towards fees. They ask for everything, bank statements, house value, mortgage statements, p60s and even came and did a home visit.
I do work, but only few hours a week due to DDs SN and dh has a good job.
I didn't know what we would get or even if they would consider us.
It's worth applying if you want to, no harm in asking. We are above the TC line.
Each school is different and like a mix of children.
I would warn anyone considering this to consider "other" costs, because even with second hand uniform it's £200+ to start with, school trip this year is £460 and school bus is £320 a term.

crazycarol Wed 25-Jul-12 22:38:30

We do not get tax credits anymore and get about a 25% discount off fees. We used to get 50% when dd first went there but I got a pay rise so it went down when we were reassessed
Each school has different amounts of funds available and use different thresholds for calculation. DDs school is quite generous in comparison to some, they claim to help around 10% of the school population and help ranges up to 100%.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now