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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.

janinlondon Tue 19-Feb-13 08:50:53

I really don't think any school would take into account the costs of maintaining the home you own in assessing for a bursary. Most would be surprised to receive a bursary application from a family who owned their home. Certainly our bursaries go primarily to single parents on minimum wages in rented accommodation.

middleclassonbursary Tue 19-Feb-13 08:51:46

This is a common problem and frustrating and upsetting for both of you. Many schools make grandiose claims on their websites which doesn't help. Assuming you've filled in the usual in depth forms the school know perfectly well you cant afford it so I doubt there's any point in writing a begging letter to anyone.

middleclassonbursary Tue 19-Feb-13 08:59:09

"Certainly our bursaries go primarily to single parents on minimum wages in rented accommodation."
We do live in rented accommodation (which is very nice) but we are neither single parents or on the minimum wage. Every school is different as already pointed out well known schools like Eton have large bursary pots and are therefore able to assist the squeezed middle classes. I understand this also applies to schools that are members of the Girls Day School Trust and if jain you look on the St Pauls school website who "believe that all boys, from every background — in our founder’s words, of “all nacions and countres indifferently”, should have the opportunity to excel" they actually give examples of those who they help again some are the squeezed middle classes.

feckwit Tue 19-Feb-13 09:04:49

Thanks everyone, I shall just reject the place with no covering letter then.

LIZS Tue 19-Feb-13 09:19:19

I'd still send a covering note - if they have other rejections the bursary criteria may change or they may just bank it for future applicants, but you have nothing to lose. I imagine very few get approaching 100% in reality.

Toughasoldboots Tue 19-Feb-13 09:31:15

I would send a covering letter, two of my friends have both got 100% bursaries for their sons at Tonbridge school and sevenoaks, including transport and uniform. I would definitely describe them as squeezed middle class, very modest homes ( mortgaged ) and I would guess an income of below £40k.
Both boys are very good at sport but certainly not genius in the academic side of things.

GreatUncleEddie Tue 19-Feb-13 09:34:28

You do not need a covering letter, you've already told them you need a bursary.

janinlondon Tue 19-Feb-13 09:36:28

GDST are fairly generous yes. From their website: "Most higher-value bursaries are awarded to pupils from families with a total income of less than £19,500 per year who have no capital assets other than their home."

middleclassonbursary Tue 19-Feb-13 09:44:16

jain I'm not going into details of our financial situation but we have a good income we've easily lost our CB and we get a bursary. Again I refer you to St Pauls school website where examples are given. Eton and Winchester are also committed to broadening their intake but neither offer many 100% bursaries so must have quite a few on good incomes to be able to pay say 50% (£17 000) of the fees. I not disputing that many take your schools position but not all.

ThisLittleMonster Tue 19-Feb-13 09:45:27

I certainly would not send a begging letter. Maybe something simple stating that without the bursary you applied for you are unable to afford to take up the place.

I don't really understand bursarys etc, it seems misleading of these schools to imply that their school is affordable to many. In fact, they encourage those with 'clever' children to apply then will snap up any true genius or prodigy who will make the school look very good indeed and that they can hold up as an example of how they are saving the local poor from a substandard education elsewhere. 'Normal' people like the OP are not who they interested in.

I'm a bit uneasy about the whole private school system (DH was private, I was state), but recognise that everyone will do the best they can for their children's eduaction. But, what it boils down to is if you can't afford it, they can't go.

Sympathique Tue 19-Feb-13 09:50:57

Knowsabit "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."

Agree 100%. Mounting fees usually mean hard decisions if DCs are to stay at their schools, but don't regret ours and never expected anyone else to pay. Yes, a part of those mounting fees paid for bursaries - we were even invited to contribute to the fund with donations and doubtless some wealthy parents did. Most of us aren't wealthy - and largely because we're forking out fees! It is wearying to read that kids at private schools are posh and stuck up. Get real.

Bursary seekers do have to be aware that it isn't a bottomless pit and the schools have to select somehow. As far as school fees are concerned "there ain't no Sanity Clause".

AgentProvocateur Tue 19-Feb-13 09:59:23

Genuine question - why would you even apply, if there's no chance of you affording it? Is it not a bit, "Here's what you would have won?" I have friends who have applied (and got) burseries, but they had a Plan B (grandparents) to make up the shortfall between the fees and what they could afford.

middleclassonbursary Tue 19-Feb-13 10:00:46

"it's unreasonable to keep asking them to dip into their pockets again and again"
Is it unreasonable? Lets take a school like Eton fees just shy of £33 000 before extras. If everyone was asked to pay another £1000 PA towards the bursary fund the that would generate over a £1000 000 a year. Those who can pay these kind of fees are unlikely to be over bothered by another £333 on their termly bill. Having said this Eton and others similar offering generous bursaries have I believed raised most of their bursary money from other sources endowments fund raising events etc.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 19-Feb-13 10:05:35

We aren't talking about humoungously oversubscribed school like Eton, though - a school with a very strong old boy network and centuries old endowments.

Who are you, who is a net taker from the system, to dictate that those of us who pay our way honestly should pay a little bit more, then a bit more again, then again?

What an upside down world we live in.

LIZS Tue 19-Feb-13 10:08:26

But isn't that the case in any business model - full fees payers subsidise the scholarship places (bursary funds are usually a separate pot) so the average cost per place is covered. Many of the top schools award scholarships but make a request that those who do not need the funding forgo it in favour of awards to less well off pupils.

middleclassonbursary Tue 19-Feb-13 10:10:23

Agent we were able to apply for a bursary and be given a provisional offer before applying for the place which is obviously much easier. But most schools dot do this, parents read extravagant claims on school websites, don't talk to bursars and assume they will easily get a bursary. A friend was recently disappointed when she didn't get one. I cant afford the fees moaned my four house owning friend the website clearly stated that those on incomes of less than £70 000 would be considered!! The OP's school were basically offering a scholarship by a different name. Sadly her daughter didn't score highly enough and she cant afford it. Probably when financial help was only attached to scholarship the same thing happened parents applied their child didn't get the scholarship and they went to another school. .

Sympathique Tue 19-Feb-13 10:11:10

MiddleClass Knowsabit specifically excluded schools like Eton. But even so, what evidence do you have to support your assertion that even its parents "are unlikely to be bothered by another £333...". Some will have (relatively!) modest means and be making sacrifices to pay for Eton, etc - though I grant you some will not have to budget (I wouldn't say they wouldn't be bothered - you don't accrue millions by splashing out left and right).

If, as seems likely, your name suggests you have a reasonable income and your DC(s) receive a bursary, make no mistake, it is likely coming out of the pockets of parents who are budgeting hard to pay full fees. I have only admiration that you make the system work for you, but please don't sleep easier at night by imagining that whoever is paying doesn't feel the pain of paying for your child(ren).

middleclassonbursary Tue 19-Feb-13 10:14:05

Knowsabit Im not saying those paying £2000 per term can necessarily afford to subsidise those on bursaries I'm making the point that those who are able to pay £33 000PA are unlikely to bothered by another £333 per term.

Inertia Tue 19-Feb-13 10:15:26

Knowsabit- many independent schools benefit from charitable status, giving them taxpayer-funded tax breaks. Effectively, this is extra funding for them- which is why the Charity Commission gets involved. So it's a bit disingenuous to complain about the hard-done-to fee-paying parents having to subsidise a few bursaries or scholarships for low-income families, when all taxpayers are already partially funding many fee-paying schools.

middleclassonbursary Tue 19-Feb-13 10:16:34

Sympathique actually its not according to the schools published accounts all money raised for bursaries comes from endowments voluntary donations etc. I accept not all do this but at my DC's school they do.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 19-Feb-13 10:19:17

Most schools will build in 10% on top of fees to fund charitable places. TPA is expecting even more than that, it seems.

There are more worthy beneficiaries of this fund, such as to keep existing students in school whose families have fallen on hard times. They may need to provide a certain number of scholarships, such as music and sports, in order to maintain the full-life of the school. They may need to provide additional bursaries in the sixth form to give critical mass to a wide range of subjects. They may have fee remission for armed forces and clergy families.

The tiny number of schools, although high profile, can give a large number of bursaries because of donations and bequests from former pupils, as well as lucrative endowments. They do not expect a significan amount of bursary money to come from existing, already cash-strapped families.

Sympathique Tue 19-Feb-13 10:24:05

Fine Inertia but those fee-paying parents also pay tax and also give the state a tax break by not using state education. I daresay if the tax breaks were taken away and fees rose more, fee-paying parents would somehow find the extra - they wouldn't expect anyone else to pay, and that is the point: they don't feel entitled to someone picking up the bill.

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 19-Feb-13 10:24:07


I am aware of how the Charities Commission works. The general consensus is that 10% of fee income should go into a bursary fund. Ten percent, not open-ended, as some people here seem to think.

Most charitable schools would love to give up charitable status, but they are not allowed to.

Sympathique Tue 19-Feb-13 10:27:16

middleclass: quoi? Can't make sense of your post, but I suspect you are talking about your school and saying my model isn't the case there. Great if you've found a school where your DC's friend's parents aren't funding for you. That's terrific and wish it were more widespread. Sleep well!

Knowsabitabouteducation Tue 19-Feb-13 10:27:20

The "tax break" is supposedly VAT on fee income (even though education is VAT exempt), offset against having to pay VAT on purchases, maintenance etc.

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