Whitgift Foundation Bursary Problems - Croydon

(14 Posts)
deafears Tue 21-Aug-12 19:07:32

Are any other parents having problems with the Whitgift Foundation delaying its assessment by asking silly questions re bursaries? When my son passed his entrance test, I was absolutely thrilled - I had no idea that I'd be held over a barrel by the Whitgift Foundation every summer for years to come. This fiasco has literally ruined our summer holiday plans, particularly as the bursary department refuses to correspond by email, so we have to stay put in Croydon until the matter is finalised sad It's two weeks to the start of term and I've still no idea whether we'll be getting a bursary or not. I'm a low income single parent being asked to provide details of gifts from grandparents and friends. How does this constitute income!?? hmm Also, the value of our home is now being taken into account, which was not the case initially - it's not as if I can sell off a few bricks to cover school fees confused Is it normal for the value of the home to be factored in? There doesn't seem to be any complaints procedure and my requests for a meeting with the Clerk have fallen on deaf ears sad Has anyone else had a similar experience?

YouBrokeMySmoulder Tue 21-Aug-12 19:11:59

Sorry you're having such trouble deafears that sounds incredibly stressful. Just wanted to say on the house thing, yes it's completely normal, it's to stop people who live in an expensive house with no income claiming a bursary. Ie a divorced woman to pick an example. It does happen before I get flamed.

If you were living in a house with a small mortgage you would be expected to release income, after all whitgift are much more generous than any other school I can think of leaving aside special cases like Christs Hospital.

EdithWeston Tue 21-Aug-12 19:15:37

It's normal for bursaries to be reassessed annually.

It's normal to be asked about all forms of annual income, including cash gifts, lottery wins etc. And T&Cs of thresholds, disregards and valuation of assets can change at any time - investment income is well down, Whitgift is at the very generous end of bursary support on offer. Perhaps the pot is overstretched?

It's up to the school when and how they administer their system - cold comfort for you, but it's part and parcel of the school's independence.

teacherwith2kids Wed 22-Aug-12 09:49:07

"Also, the value of our home is now being taken into account, which was not the case initially - it's not as if I can sell off a few bricks to cover school fees"

No, but presumably if you have an expensive house with little outstanding mortgage, you might be expcted to re-mortgage it to some extent to pay fees?

There is a difference - in terms of 'level of need' which is what I presume the providers of bursaries are trying to assess - between a family who happen to be income poor but are very asset rich in terms of house etc (who could reasonably be expected to release some of those assets to create income) and a family who are income poor and have no assets that can be realised in this way (e.g. live in a small rented house or a small house or flat which is fully mortgaged).

middleclassonbursary Wed 22-Aug-12 10:06:30

In answer to your points:
1. "I'm a low income single parent being asked to provide details of gifts from grandparents and friends. How does this constitute income!??"
Grandparents frequently contribute to fees so this is why they're asking you.
2. "the value of our home is now being taken into account, which was not the case initially" as far as i'm aware the value of your home is always taken into consideration. You could be living in a £2 000 000 house with no mortgage and have a low income.
3. "There doesn't seem to be any complaints procedure and my requests for a meeting with the Clerk have fallen on deaf ears." What are you complaining about? The fact that they wont correspond by email, the questions asked on the form?
Our bursar corresponds by letter, we submit a form every year (about February and yes yearly assessment is normal) and we wait for a reply this year so many applied we received a letter telling us that there would be a delay in hearing from them. Having submitted the reply and enclosed all the relevant documentation there is nothing further to do just wait. Go on holiday its not going to make any difference to your bursary!
The forms are standard they have to ask every person the same thing they don't know if you live in a one bed council flat or a country estate, the questions are searching but not impossible. You are asking to have a reduction in school fees of perhaps up to 100% every family at your chosen school would like that so it is right that the reduction is given to people who genuinely don't have money. IME assets are the biggest reason bursaries are turned down or just not as large as people hoped.

deafears Wed 22-Aug-12 17:51:44

Hi all! Thanks for your replies. Firstly, may I say that I fully appreciate that bursaries should go to those most in need. In fact, this is very much in point, as I've spoken to two single parents who've told me that they decided not to pursue their applications when faced with the Whitgift Foundation's rather relentless inquisitorial approach. And I know for certain that those ladies were separated from their husbands and struggling financially - sadly, one of those ladies is now living with her children in a bedsit. When you're struggling for the basics, it takes a lot of time and energy to explain, let alone prove that, even though your child's father should be contributing, he may choose not to and that, given the way the CSA operates, there really isn't very much you can do about it.

And no, my children and I don't live in an expensive house, by any means - we live in a terraced house with a downstairs bathroom, without a drive or garage.

As far as gifts from family and friends are concerned, last year, I declared some cash given to me by my parents for my birthday. It wasn't a significant amount - just normal birthday money. However, it occurred to me then, as it does now, that those applicants on a higher income are unlikely even to think of declaring similar gifts. After all, according to the Whitgift Foundation's table, parents on an income of £79,000 may be eligible for a bursary. Obviously, I agree that income and lottery wins are relevant, but my point is that there's no sensible way of comparing the value of gifts. For example, if the grandparents buy little Johny a telly for £500 for Christmas, does this have to be declared? Isn't it more valuable than £200 given to the mother, so she can buy a tv for him herself?

And no, middleclassonbursary, we can't go away at present because, after all these months, I'm still waiting for an up-to-date letter from the CSA to prove that my maintenance assessment is £1.67 per week. I've submitted the original assessment, plus recent bank statements, but, until I can provide a recent letter from the CSA to that effect, I'm liable for the full fees. Indeed, the full fees account arrived in the post this morning shock At the moment, I'm ringing the CSA almost daily. All this grief over an amount that barely covers a pair of school shoes...

Edithweston - I do realise that bursaries are reassessed annually, but the Whitgift Foundation is exercising a quasi-judicial function, which means that its approach must be reasonable, proportionate and transparent. For example, originally the value of our home was not included in our assessment and there has been no explanation for the change. Also, most of the queries that are being made do not impact upon our income bracket - in other words, as far as I can see, they delay our assessment, but do nothing to advance matters. And, of course, there should be a complaints procedure. Don't forget that charities enjoy very significant tax advantages.

Thanks youbrokemyshoulder - it is stressful - given the proximity of the new academic year and the impact of all this uncertainty on my children. I know the forms are standard, but it doesn't follow that the additional queries are. I've previously obtained bursaries from other charitable foundations in respect of my daughter and, although I've been required to complete paperwork and submit evidence, it's been a relatively straightforward exercise, whereas this headache has been dragging on since April...Apart from anything else the tone of the letters I'm receiving is bordering on hostile - I really don't think I want to be doing this every year..

happygardening Wed 22-Aug-12 18:23:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

basildonbond Wed 22-Aug-12 19:21:10

while I'm sorry you're finding the experience stressful, you have to remember that there's no 'right' to have a bursary, it's a path you've actively chosen

The Whitgift foundation has a duty to ensure that bursary funds are being spent appropriately - as a fee-paying parent I'm glad that the bursar is making sure that bursaries aren't going to families who don't really need them, just as I'm glad that the foundation provides such a large amount of assistance with fees in the form of bursaries and scholarships as that helps the foundation's schools keep their distinctive ethos

EdithWeston Wed 22-Aug-12 19:38:29

Whitgift School says on its website that it has 43% of its pupils on some form of bursary and 1290 pupils.

It is good practice to require a hard copy, signed financial declaration plus supporting documents.

Requiring new information on assets would only be unfair if it was not required of all renewers. If it is being applied to all, as it is such a typical question from bursary-offering schools, you would only have a complaint if you had reason to believe it was being asked only selectively of some. Do you have any evidence of unfair selectivity?

I am not surprised it takes all summer to process such a high number of forms, nor that outcomes are notified to all families simultaneously. It would be unfair to do otherwise, or allow insufficient time for proper scrutiny to an equal standard for all.

Mutteroo Sun 26-Aug-12 13:14:07

I've been through the bursary process with three schools. Two assessed annually & the rules in year one were pretty simple. The second year it was all change & included everything you've stated Whitgift ask for. The governors agreed bursaries & as their committee only meets once or twice a term, we had to wait for them to accept what we had declared. The bursaries were always agreed eventually. DS last school gave us a bursary for a 5 year period & was only assessed once at the beginning. DS was considering staying on for 6th form & I had spoken to the school with regards to increasing the bursary. They were more than happy to do this & even give DS a 100% bursary if that kept him there. In other words, they'd rather keep pupils than lose them because a parent cannot pay the fees. Obviously there's exceptions to the rule, but even our disruptive DD had her bursary agreed each year!

The house is important as for instance, if you owned a £2 million home, a second mortgage would be considered appropriate over asking for a bursary. We declared our small semi & were not expected to remortgage it. We declared gifts as monies which enabled our children to attend their private schools & this didn't include birthday presents etc. We estimated an amount as its difficult to know what exactly the figures are given unless you note these down every single time! Maybe we got it wrong, but I hope we followed the rules correctly!

Please don't worry too much. Your frustration is understandable, but thems the rules & we bursary askers have to accept them. Thank goodness DS is at a state school for sixth form!

SoupDragon Sun 26-Aug-12 13:26:57

Just because the queries aren't relent to you doesn't mean they aren't relative to anyone. There are bound to be people trying to get a bursary they aren't entitled to.

As a fee paying parent, I want the foundation to be allocating the money where it is really needed and taking steps to root out cheats and liars.

Gabriella1 Fri 29-Aug-14 19:59:29

Hi Deafers, I know your post is dated in 2012. Just wondering if you are still going through these issues with the Whitgift Bursuries Dept. I am going through exactly the same experiences as you. Would really like to off load as totally fed up and stressed.

deafears Tue 16-Sep-14 13:18:32

Hi Gabriella1! Yes, unfortunately, I continue to have problems - it's a nightmare every year and I absolutely dread it. As someone above pointed out, it is my choice to make an application, but, once your child is settled at a school, what choice do you have? My contribution has gone up considerably - beyond what I can afford - and I've been fighting for weeks to find out how it has been calculated. What problems have you been having?

maryamH Thu 27-Oct-16 21:14:56

Hi,
My DD received a bursary from Whitgift Foundation. Can anyone verify, whether its true that the amount of bursary my dd receives each year will depend on her academic results besides income?

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