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Bursary. What to say in application.

(39 Posts)
Pigeons Mon 19-Sep-11 12:51:11

DD has started Nursery in a very good independent school. We're using the free 15 hours for this school year. Next year, Reception, the fees kick in and we're going to need a bursary to be able to afford it.

I thought it was worth us making an application just in case, and was told by the Bursar to initally write to the Head with a bit of background info. She'll then send us more info and we'll need to provide a financial report.

But, what do you think I should write in the initial letter? I've written that our DD loves the school and that we're very impressed by it. I've mentioned that I'm a fundraising consultant (can't hurt I thought, in case they'd like some voluntary fundraising advice) but I really don't know what else to say at this stage.

Any tips and advice would be VERY gratefully received! Thanks. smile

silverfrog Mon 19-Sep-11 12:56:34

do you think it is wise to start your dd off ina school that you cannot afford?

even if you get a bursary - how are you going ot manage the fee increases, both year on year inflationary increases and the increases as they go up the school - without the bursary also increasing?

I think you would be better off finding a school you can afford to send your dd to, tbh.

Pigeons Mon 19-Sep-11 12:57:12

By the way, we live in one of those 'blackholes' in that we can't get into our local (10 min walk) state school as it's over-subscribed. The school we'll get (according to the local Headteacher) is a genuinely terrible school and is a drive across town which will take ages. That's why we're looking at an education that we can't afford! grin

Pigeons Mon 19-Sep-11 12:57:59

Thanks silverfrog. We're trying to move (house on the market but little interest) so that we can get into a decent state school. I don't know what the alternative is at the moment.

silverfrog Mon 19-Sep-11 12:59:37

define "take ages" for yuo drive across town

<bear in mind that isnce I have had to endure an 80 mile round trip morning and afternoon (so 160 miles a day), taking on average about 4-4.5 hours each day, I am unlikely to find a 30 minute drive across town an unacceptable reason to go to that school...>

silverfrog Mon 19-Sep-11 13:01:53

oh, x-posts.

well, wrt the awful school - you can always try to change it from within. the drive across town is neither here nor there, tbh. lots of people have difficult commutes, for lots of reasons.

could you rent out your house, instead of selling, and then rent ina better school catchment?

Pigeons Mon 19-Sep-11 13:03:20

The drive's besides the point really. If it was a good school we'd do it no probs, but it's a truly awful school. At the end of last term an ten year old boy was caught dealing drugs which he stole from his parents. The Ofsted report is terrible. A friend works there as a classroom assistant there and said straight away that she wouldn't send her DC there!

Pigeons Mon 19-Sep-11 13:08:23

I'm not up for changing a school from within. That takes a group of people and I don't know enough people there. I'd stand more chance of winning big and being able to pay the private fees than changing a school like that anyway! grin Besides, changing things takes time and DD starts next year.

Renting's something we considered but the estate agents said that there's no market for it in our area. Perhaps we should look at that again though.

Next year, when DD's in school, I'll be able to work more and (hopefully!) earn more which should help.

CrystalChandelier Mon 19-Sep-11 13:09:55

A bursary at reception will only cover a small percentage of the fees. If you'd struggle to pay even with a bursary, surely it would be wise to reconsider going down route you can't afford and will ultimately have to pull out of.

Is your income likely to increase? If so, perhaps it's worth a gamble, but the fundraising consultant market is very crowded - too many experts chasing too little cash to go around.

killercat Mon 19-Sep-11 13:15:10

Just the truth.

For example, if you had the intention to remove your daughter after the nursery year due to the fact you knew in advance you could not afford the fees, then say that and say you are now so impressed you want your child to continue. If you always intended on going for a bursary with the possibility you will not get it, and therefore remove a child from the school, then that's slightly harder to word and I'd come and that from the angle of explaining what sacrifices you will make as a family. For example, will you work more hours? Try and get a employee position with a salary rather than being a consultant? Have you equity in your house you will release (actually, the terms of the bursary may mean you are obliged to so show you have thought about it)? Will you be making cutbacks on cars and holidays and anything else you can now this year?

What have you done so far in order to plan for school fees? Will you earn more in the future?

The financial report will be very thorough later with everything you earn, all equity, all saving, all debts everything. If successful, you will be expected to make a contribution that will be carefully worked out with formulas based on all sorts of things, but it will still hurt you financially. It's designed to be on a par with what other families have to sacrifice in order to pay the fees.

Two things though - slightly unusual to get bursaries from the age of 5, normally schools only have them from age 11 or sometimes age 8. And secondly, you can use the early years entitlement until (I think!) the term they turn 5 years of age. For us, we will be using it therefore until the start of year 1 for our little DD who has just started an independent school nursery too. But ours are taken off a term in arrears, and so we had to pay this terms upfront and then get a rebate next term. We also use employers childcare vouchers for the full amount each, and I think that has the same time scale too. But we are making sure we'll have more disposable income for year 1 when we have full fees to pay - we started planning for this before we even looked around nurseries or schools.

I wouldn't mention what you do in order to curry favour or as some sort of bargaining tool. My own impression would be along the lines of "well, they might be a fundraising consultant but she's not planned her own funds in advance very well." Sorry if that seems harsh and there's more information that you're not disclosing. Clearly if you come back and add that you've suddenly become a widow or something, I'm going to feel awful...

Pigeons Mon 19-Sep-11 13:15:28

Yes, I anticipate that when DD's in school full time I'll be able to work more and my income should increase. I've only been doing a bit of work in the evenings since DD was born, so I should be earning a fair bit more when I have the daytimes to work too.

I've worked a fundraising consultant for a number of years and have made a reasonable living. I have some solid contacts who have been good to me over the years. smile

Pigeons Mon 19-Sep-11 13:20:50

Thanks killercat, that's really, really useful.

I haven't planned for this financially as, until the last few months, I thought DD was ok for the local state primary. Last year the catchment shifted to encompass a newly-built estate which is full of children. It's a small-ish school, with lots of siblings too. Also, it's a church school. We've been going to the church for three years now (yes, we're doing everything we can!), but that guarantees nowt.

The school starts bursaries from Reception, but I'll check the SureStart thing. If she's ok until 4 years old, that buys us a bit of time.

Thanks again for your thoughts. That's given me a lot to go on.

stealthsquiggle Mon 19-Sep-11 13:27:08

I think the fact that DD loves the school and you are really impressed and you would love her to stay there if it was possible is about all you need. The form (if anything like the ones I have seen) is incredibly thorough (or intrusive, depending on your PoV) so you will have to declare all info on there anyway. Possibly it is worth giving an indication of your household income just so that the head knows that you are not taking the proverbial?

LittlebearH Mon 19-Sep-11 13:32:00

I work in a private school, I can confirm what Killercat is pretty spot on.

Also, you have to think long term with this. If you fall behind with fees (whether you are paying in full or on a Bursary) your DD wont be able to move up the school.

You are may also have to give permission to be credit searched. So be truthful.

eatyourveg Mon 19-Sep-11 13:40:54

Ds1 has a bursary for his secondary school. I think it should be more along the lines of why you think your dd deserves funding albeit in part from the school over any other child who may be applying. Say what can she bring to the school, why this school would be better for her / meet her particular needs more than any other ( don't just say it has good results/gets more people into top secondaries). Look through the prospectus and website to see if you can use some of their key phrases regarding type of child etc. You should make it as personal as you can and about your daughter rather than you.

Also you will need to know the terms of the bursary before you go down that road. Some I think are for a fixed term and you might have to reapply which may mean as she gets older that you have more competition from other parents who may have very strong cases for wanting the bursary. In other schools like ours, the bursary lasts for the duration of ds1s time in the school subject to him working hard and not getting into any serious trouble

Chestnutx3 Mon 19-Sep-11 13:50:22

why can't you go back to work when your DD starts reception and earn enough for the school fees? if you can afford to live without you earning much now so your DP's wages cover living expenses if you go to work that will cover the school fees. Thats what most of us funding private education have to do - we are not all hedge fund managers or have inherited wealth. Unless there is something preventing you from working then I can't believe your application will be successful.

CrystalChandelier Mon 19-Sep-11 14:03:14

Chestnutx3 is right. Bursaries aren't free cash - you're asking other parents to fund your child's education, so you need to have good reasons why you think they should. Pointing out that it's a temporary reduction in income and you'll soon be earning enough to cover the whole fees might go some way towards it.

jabed Mon 19-Sep-11 14:03:35

The situation of the OP is precisely one of the reasons my DS is being home educated.

Pigeons Mon 19-Sep-11 14:10:56

Chestnutx3 I can go back to work when DD's in Reception. I do some consultancy work in the evenings now, and if I don't find enough when she's in Reception I'll look for a staff job. Just, at the moment, there isn't enough in the coffers and there won't be for the first term or so.

jabed, I have considered home ed, but I don't think it would work for us. DD won't listen to me. Well, not in the way I've seen her listen to the teachers at school and, frankly, I'm not a teacher and wouldn't know what to do! I also presume home schooling's expensive. How do you buy all that kit? Also...I don't want to do it. blush I'd rather know that DD was being educated by educators in a classroom environment.

stealthsquiggle Mon 19-Sep-11 14:14:29

chestnut - most bursaries are reviewed year by year anyway, so the safest option would be for the OP to outline any plans to return to FT work and volunteer change of income to the school, should they grant a bursary. Committing to school fees you can only afford if you fnid full time work would be foolhardy in the extreme.

TBH, most schools have a fixed fund (and have to have it to maintain their charitable status - so it's not quite as simple as asking other parents to subsidise you - charitable status makes financial sense for the school) - so whether or not you get a bursary depends largely on the situations of others who have applied rather than on your situation alone.

CrystalChandelier Mon 19-Sep-11 14:22:18

stealthsquiggle Effectively it's the same. The Charity Commission are pressurising schools to hand out more bursaries, so fee-paying parents are subsidising more and more bursary places by paying out hikes in fees to boost the fixed funds. Parents might not be literally asking, I grant you, but the effect is the same.

stealthsquiggle Mon 19-Sep-11 14:27:02

or.... the school could opt out of it's charitable status, and then all parents would have to pay even higher fees due to higher tax and other costs, and no-one would (directly) benefit. So funding bursaries is, on balance, saving other parents money, not costing it.

CrystalChandelier Mon 19-Sep-11 14:34:01

Really? I've heard charitable status is neither here nor there when it comes to fees. Schools simply like to protect it because it means they don't have to hand their assets such as premises back to the Charity Commission.

stealthsquiggle Mon 19-Sep-11 14:42:02

confused - what has asset ownership to do with charitable status? Assets would be owned by the school trust. I always understood that charitable status just gave a not-for-profit organisation (significant) tax benefits. The Charity Commission is a regulatory body - not an owner of assets.

(Genuinely confused, BTW - and willing to be proved wrong)

CrystalChandelier Mon 19-Sep-11 14:46:30

If a charity loses charitable status, it must hand over its assets to the Charity Commission. Any trust would be dissolved.

Seriously, as I understand it the VAT benefits of charitable status make very little odds to a school. If they did, proprieter schools wouldn't be able to compete on a cost basis, but they do.

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