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Is this the usual attitude to recipients of scholarships/bursaries?

(90 Posts)
ariane5 Thu 18-Jul-13 20:18:43

Dd has a v generous bursary for secondary school. Twice in the last fortnight I have been asked which school she will be going to.

The first person looked surprised when I said name of school, repeated it twice to me and then said "oh, does she have a scholarship" to which I said yes and she said "I see" and the second person quizzed me over every aspect of it.

Clearly it is obvious we have no money, I myself wouldn't question anybody even if I thought they couldn't afford fees for a particular school but I have been surprised how quick others have been to ask me.

Maybe I am overthinking things. I just worry a bit that if its that obvious we are getting help will it set dd apart and the other children at the school will know too? Tbh as soon as dd makes friends and they come back to our teeny council house they will probably guess.

I am just surprised at how judgy the people I've spoken to seem.I'm still surprised people think its ok to question how I'm affording to send dd there and assuming its with financial assistance.

HeyCarrieAnn Thu 18-Jul-13 21:30:51

True, picture but the scholarships at ds's school are reasonably generous and the parents/families are reasonably 'normal' so many parents would sit their children for them in the hope of a bit of help with fees, iyswim.

Anyway, I just meant on the whole that people seemed interested, friendly and very welcoming and not at all judgemental one way or another.

agendabender Thu 18-Jul-13 21:31:34

I was offered a couple of scholarships that I ended up turning down for other things. Two were unsolicited, and came through "scouts" from independent schools. I was offered them because I was clever, not because my parents couldn't pay. Why should anyone think anything different of your DD? Good for her! Incidentally I also had my BA and MA fees waived by two universities. Might be worth thinking about in a couple of years if your DD is interested.

(Sorry if I sound like an arse. I've had a heap of bad luck too, promise!)

HeyCarrieAnn Thu 18-Jul-13 21:39:01

And you quite literally can never know other people's circumstances just from looking at them on the outside. I've got to know two other Mums quite well from school who on the outside appear much 'better off' than us (going on jobs and size of houses) and you would never know the bad luck and circumstances (both financial and otherwise) that they actually find themselves in, on appearance alone.

ariane5 Thu 18-Jul-13 21:39:28

Dd1 has a bursary. The person asked was it a scholarship, I said yes as didn't want to explain about having a bursary.

Second person asked lots more, I did mention means testing that was when she said they were poor and could only afford full fees if gave up hols etc. Didn't like to start explaining about our finances as we are clearly as poor as we look!

HeyCarrieAnn Thu 18-Jul-13 21:40:23

Ignore, smile, don't engage.

Look forward with dd to her new school.

HeyCarrieAnn Thu 18-Jul-13 21:43:23

I'd almost forgotten this as it was well over a year ago now but at least two of ds's old school friends' mums made snotty comments about us affording a fee-paying school when they have bigger houses, much newer cars, nicer holidays, clothes and everything than us.

No-one at the actual fee-paying school cares.

rabbitstew Thu 18-Jul-13 21:50:00

ariane5 - why do you think the people are being "judgy" rather than interested? Why do you think it is judgmental for someone to assume that you are no better off than they are - given that at least one of the people you were talking to has expressed an interest in doing for her child what you have done for yours, so she clearly doesn't have the cash, either?

I think it's pretty normal for people to assume the other people around them are from a relatively similar background to themselves unless they get strong signals that indicate otherwise, so the same is likely to be the case at the private school for your dd - she won't stick out like a sore thumb, she will be assumed to be in the right place at the right time, with similar interests and aspirations, or she wouldn't be there in the school uniform, going to the lessons. If anyone does have a problem with your dd when invited round to your house, then you'll all know that person would make a lousy friend, anyway. There are plenty more fish in the sea, you can't be friends with everyone.

Fairdene Thu 18-Jul-13 21:56:22

Agree with Beck. A bursary is not a scholarship and it's probably best not to conflate the two. There's nothing especially meritorious about a bursary whereas a scholarship denotes merit.

tricot39 Thu 18-Jul-13 21:57:32

I would say that your dd getting a place has given them a shock. Most people assume that private schooling requires payment of fees. The discovery.that this is not the case is probably making them feel foolish for not having put their children forward - the second person sounded like she had that in mind for her dc and that you were the competition! Well don to your dc and ignore the "envious"/surprised comments!

ariane5 Thu 18-Jul-13 22:00:25

I just wouldn't ask somebody how they were managing to afford something, even if I wondered I would never question over it.

The second person who quizzed me was saying that if they gave up their holidays they could afford full fees for their dcs but didn't want to do that so was asking all about these "free places". I mentioned means testing but didn't want to go into it.

The school dcs are currently at is in a very affluent area, we are out of catchment by a long way and live in a council house (and everybody seems to know this after dcs have had just a handful of friends round). I dod feel I was being judged, it may not have been intentional and usually the person involved is quite nice but gets quite agressive with her questioning over this matter.

The means testing we went through was extensive, we had to provide absolutely everything but I just don't feel it is anybody elses business but I was asked about so much! I wish it was as simple for us to just 'give up holidays' and afford school fees then I wouldn't have had to worry!

MrsOakenshield Thu 18-Jul-13 22:03:24

well, we are near 3 pretty impressive independents, and I would be astonished if anyone I knew (including us) could afford them, especially at secondary, so I might ask out of interest (they are excellent schools but the only way DD would be going is via this route, and bursary more likely as I can't imagine she'll be a genius!), not as a disparaging comment on your own financial status.

Fantastic for her!

frogwatcher42 Thu 18-Jul-13 22:09:00

I too think it may be that they were simply shocked that bursaries are available.

I found out a year or two ago that our local church gave bursaries for full school fees for families. I only found out as I knew a family that got one for both their children and it was too late for us.

I felt a fool for not having investigated it for my children or investigated bursaries full stop. I never knew they existed and a scholarship wouldn't have been enough support so we never progressed that either.

I reckon that is what the people quizzing you felt. A bit envious.

Mintyy Thu 18-Jul-13 22:15:31

Don't worry Ariane, that whole stupid giving up holidays thing and being able to afford school fees is a ridiculous urban myth. Dh and I, for instance, with our two children three school years apart, would have to be giving up £40,000 pounds worth of holidays every year in order to be able to send our dc to private school!

Whereas this year, back in the real world and as a quite well off family (for which we are eternally grateful etc), we will have spent about £5,000 - £6,000 on holidays.

ariane5 Thu 18-Jul-13 22:37:15

Perhaps I was being a bit sensitive then. Its difficult as if I was 100% truthful I would have just said to her that we were lucky enough to get a bursary as we have no savings, huge outgoings, dcs have lots of problems hence us considering private school and that was how we got a "free place".

The means testing was verging on intrusive but obviously the school have to rank applicants by financial need and then offer a bursary in order of applicants who get highest marks in the exams.

I just felt quite threatened by the relentless questioning.

Talkinpeace Thu 18-Jul-13 22:38:45

line your ducks up for next time : daft responses at the ready

tiggytape Thu 18-Jul-13 23:17:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Somethingyesterday Thu 18-Jul-13 23:27:52

ariane Please don't feel threatened! It's not a "free" place - the school has offered the bursary because they genuinely feel that your DD has something to offer the school. So even if the parent who questioned you so closely had only one tenth of your income there is no guarantee that her daughter would be granted one.

If a school offers bursaries then other children in the school will have them. The richer the school, the greater will be the proportion of children in receipt of funding. It isn't given because the school"feels sorry for" the recipient but because they are extremely eager to have that child in their school.

ariane5 Thu 18-Jul-13 23:37:12

I know it is silly that I felt threatened.It was just too many questions-even had dd1 sat the same exams as everybody else!

Perhaps I should just be upfront about it all and say yes dd has a bursary due to our finances. It just feels so awkward discussing things like that but maybe its my issue and I need to get over it and accept that people will be curious as to how dd got a place there.

Somethingyesterday Thu 18-Jul-13 23:50:40

You DO NOT have to discuss your finances with every nosey parker who buttonholes you! In fact I absolutely forbid it. smile

Why should you? Someone up thread said that there was merit in a scholarship but no merit in a bursary. This may be her understanding or experience - it is not mine. And my experience is pretty extensive. The school REALLY wanted YOUR DD. A bursary is very much a "scholarship with benefits" nowadays.

Every time someone butts their nose into your private business just imagine them trying the same thing with the richest person you know.

eatyourveg Fri 19-Jul-13 08:11:58

One mother when she came to collect her ds who had come home for tea remarked, "if you are at (name of school) how come you live here?"

I said that ds was on two scholarships and a bursary with grandparents topping up the last bit and she's blanked me ever since. Feel sorry for her. The boys have remained friends (but only in school).

Wish I'd thought of a trust fund response at the time

tiredaftertwo Fri 19-Jul-13 08:27:35

Has the school not asked you to keep the bursary and your circumstances confidential? I thought that was fairly standard, to avoid the situation where the school does extensive means testing and goes into detail, and bystanders make assumptions from what they can see or illicit in casual conversation, and gossip, rumours and complaints start.

I think I'd practice a big smile and say "Do contact the school if you are interested in financial support, I cannot give you accurate details" and if they persist say politely that it is your business.

Honestly, avoid engaging. It will get ugly.

Good luck to your dd at her new school. IME, teenagers do sometimes (not always) end up going to the larger houses a bit more because there is more to do or a bigger garden, but it is absolutely not taken as a personal thing, and no-one has any idea who the bursary holders are, and I have never heard it discussed, hinted at or anything. Some kids don't like others coming to their houses - it is fine. Parents tend not to know that much about each other at secondary school and the children couldn't care less. Scholarships are public - I would not confuse the two to outsiders - people will think you have lied.

JohnnyUtah Fri 19-Jul-13 08:38:13

My yr 9/10 son knows one of his friends is on a full bursary. And knows a boy in his class is on a partial one. I don't think it is an issue at all, but he does know.

DeWe Fri 19-Jul-13 09:37:07

I would assume that the second person was interested in how it works for them/someone else who was considering applying under similar circumstances.

I would expect if they had a scholarship, people to follow it up with congratulations.

I was at a private school which had the assisted places scheme. People talked freely about having those. I knew exactly who had them in my year, and none of them were stigmatised by it in any way. They went to the people who had passed the entrance exam whose parents had the smallest net earnings, and this was standardly known, so looking back it could have been very easy for it to become an issue.
Scholarships otoh were generally not discussed. My best friend had one, and could guess that one boy almost certainly had one, but other than that I don't know who did.

Dd1 got offered an academic scholarship for half price-we still couldn't afford it realistically. The issue would have been that we couldn't have considered at all for the other two, even if they got the same scholarship, so we didn't feel this was fair.
We don't have foreign holidays, only have one car, don't over spend, dh earns a reasonable (but not brilliant) salary, but we wouldn't get enough on a bursary to be able to consider it with having three dc who would all need to be at secondary at the same level.

So if someone who I would regard as similar circumstances told me they were going, I might ask, for interest for myself. But round here it's often that grandparents etc. are paying, so I probably wouldn't.

ariane5 Fri 19-Jul-13 11:59:24

The school have not asked us to not say that we have a bursary but I don't really want to tell anyone as I don't think its anybodys business! I would not ask how somebody else has afforded their new car/house/holiday so I don't see why our finances are anybody elses business.

I didn't correct the person who said was dd getting a scholarship as didn't want to go into the whole bursary thing so I just said it was. That was probably wrong of me but I am quite a private person and just wanted to change the subject!

showersinger Fri 19-Jul-13 12:00:40

There's nothing especially meritorious about a bursary whereas a scholarship denotes merit.

Well, no. Not now in the current climate. The schools receive more deserving bursary applications than what they have funds for and thus select on merit basis. We have just gone through several applications to independent schools and that's what we were told by the schools... Unless we are talking about a school in the country. But if we are talking about competitive London schools for example, some of them now call the bursaries "means tested scholarships". You need to show financial need but also to have scored very well in the entrance exam and interview.

Ariane, my DS is in the same situation as yours. There is no way we can hide it because he was so happy and proud he announced it in school! grin I have decided not to care. People who don't know have not asked directly, but they have given me that puzzled look: "private school, you?" I smile and say, "yep, can't afford it, but DS earned himself the full fees!!" And I leave it at that.

Congratulations to your DD. She should not be made to feel like it is something to hide!

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