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Scholarships, bursaries, am I living in cloud cuckoo land?

(78 Posts)
Slapntickleothewenches Thu 13-Feb-14 12:04:33

I will try and keep this short smile
DS is 9, in year 5 in middle school (3 tiers still) Originally he started in prep school and it was always my dream that he would be privately educated (having refused the opportunity of a very good scholarship myself because I didn't want to go to a "posh" school <idiot>)
Unfortunately the school closed unexpectedly, taking our next years fees and deposit with it hmm After much agonising, not least because of the financial situation, we decided to move DS to state school where he has been very happy and is thriving.
I still want him to be privately educated, now from 13+. However due to a failed business we are in no situation to pay more than a fractional amount of fees.
DS (and I am aware I sound very PFB here!) is smart. He's currently working at the level expected at the end of year 6 for maths, everything else is also above expectations for his age.
He plays sport regularly both in and out of school. He's committed and always tries his best but I would be lying if I said he was a natural sportsman grin
He plays two instruments, is also part of the school orchestra and woodwind group. He should be at around grade 5 in both by the start of yr9. Music is his passion and currently he wants to either play professionally or become a music teacher (subject to change should the world of Formula 1 come knocking on his door grin)
He also attends Latin club and music theory club as he enjoys the challenge and wants to better himself (I was a lazy child and I am in awe of his motivation)

Would we be laughed at for applying for a place? If he stays on target he could be eligible for a music scholarship at our favourite (ATM) school but if not I'm not sure his academic abilities are sufficient for a scholarship and top up bursary. He has no tutoring at the moment but we would be willing to look into this if it would improve his prospects.
I am sure (as I can be) that he is the sort of child who would put his all into private school and thrive under the challenges but I'm just not sure we have enough to offer to make it viable.
Any advice would be most hatefully received smile

Slapntickleothewenches Thu 13-Feb-14 12:05:50

Damn, gratefully received, and sorry for the essay smile

3nationsfamily Thu 13-Feb-14 12:13:50

I suggest you contact the school and speak to the Bursar. There may well be a music scholarship but it may only give a nominal 5-10% of fees deduction. Most schools should have a bursary policy which is not linked to the qualification for a scholarship but should be on financial need only basis- this is a requirement for the charitable status most private schools have these days.
However, bottom line is that in reality the more they want your child the more likely they are to consider your bursary application. It sounds like your child is a good all rounder and would fit in well at most private schools. The limiting factor will be what funds the school has to give bursaries and if you need more than say 60% to even think about sending them there and the school has a maximum limit of 40% then it is not going to happen. That is where speaking to the Bursar will help as they will be clear about the limitations or rstrictions on bursary funds and what is a realistic maximum which might be available.
If you are applying for a bursary , expect a very thorough investigation of your finances, mortgage, house value, savings, holidays, car etc etc. there is also an expectation that both parents are working and that any equity in the house is released to contribute to fees.
You also need to factor in significant sums for "extras" such as music lessons (although may be covered by scholarship) uniform, tons of sports kit, lots of school trips, school meals, etc - usual budget of about 10-15% of annual fees.

hellsbells99 Thu 13-Feb-14 12:16:15

Find yourself a good state school and that will stop all the stress!
My DDs are both at state school - 1 year 11 and 1 sixth form. I have no regrets at all not sending them private (and I couldn't have afforded it either).
DD2 is working towards grade 7 piano and flute and also plays 2 other instruments. Their school has concert band, swing band, orchestra, strings group. flute group etc. She is currently choosing A levels (not music) and has been told she will be a strong Oxbridge candidate - but that is not part of her plans.
Going to a state school doesn't necessarily 'close doors'!
But no, they don't offer Latin - although do offer a classical studies course.

FatalFlowerGarden Thu 13-Feb-14 12:19:58

I can't imagine for a second that you would be laughed at for applying. Your ds certainly sounds as if he would be a good candidate for a music award of some sort.

However, every school is different in the way they administer and award scholarships/bursaries so your first move, as 3nations suggests, is to contact the bursar at the school(s) you are interested in. This is perfectly normal and acceptable practice, as it's understood that parents may not wish to put their dcs (and themselves!) through the stress of applications for schools they have absolutely no chance of affording.

The bursary application process is, quite rightly, thorough (and some might say intrusive) so you need to be aware of this.

Are you willing to say which schools you are interested in? There is a lot of specific expertise knocking around MN!

FreckledLeopard Thu 13-Feb-14 12:19:59

A friend of mine receives an 85% bursary for both her children at senior school. Substantial bursaries are available for the right children and your son sounds as if he would be a credit to the school.

I would certainly approach the bursar and explain the situation.

tiggytape Thu 13-Feb-14 12:20:26

Scholarships are awarded for children who are very good at music, sports or whatever the school values as well as for those who do very well in the entrance exams.
Bursaries are based on financial need although the school has to want the child in order to offer one of these.

It also isn't automatic that you get offered what you need though. If you have a very low income, you might get a scholarship and bursary combined that covers half the fees but, on a low income, you still may not be able to find the other half yourself.

Some schools are more generous than others and some have more money to spend on this than others. There's no harm in looking but I guess the worry is falling in love with a school that then doesn't offer a scholarship or a big enough bursary to enable your son to go. By that time he will have already have passed the tests and been to the school. You'd need a good back-up that you were all happy with so I wouldn't let him think state schools are a second rate option since if oyu need a big bursary the odds are probably against you.

Slapntickleothewenches Thu 13-Feb-14 12:39:31

Wow, quick replies smile
Thankfully DS is in a feeder and we are in catchment for a very good state school so, while the idea of falling in love with the school and then the finances not tallying up is a worry, it's not like he is then destined for a failing school in an awful area.
The means testing doesn't concern us. DH and I both work, we have had to rent as we cannot afford to buy now, we drive an old car and holiday in France or the UK most years. We have no equity to release at all. In some senses I was told we are ideal as we totally fulfil the "gifted child with no chance of attending otherwise" category that makes the school seem all inclusive (not sure how true that actually is though)
At the moment we have three options, one a very traditional boys school that I feel we are punching way above our weight with, and two more down to earth mixed ones. All are boarding schools but within close enough proximity to allow weekend visits home and easy access for events.
I will look more closely at them all and make contact with the bursars. We wanted to see round the schools anyway in order that DS can see exactly what he's working towards so I can broach that at the same time. I was a little concerned I would be seen as pushy as he is only year 5 but I am starting to see that this will be a marathon and not a sprint!
Many thanks all smile

hellsbells99 Thu 13-Feb-14 12:40:15

As tiggytape says - no harm in looking but get a good state back-up as well.

Grade 5 in music at year 9 in not particularly outstanding. I don't mean that in a nasty way (as I know grade 5 is hard), but I would think there will be others at a lot higher standard that your DS will be competing with. At my DDs' state school, there are quite a few that are grade 8 standard by 14/15 (and 1 or 2 that reached that standard much much younger).

ZeroSomeGameThingy Thu 13-Feb-14 13:04:20

Which school?

TBH I'm still shock at the first school stealing your fees. Did some of the other parents get their money back?

Why would you be laughed at? There's absolutely no reason why you should not have as much chance as anyone else of getting what you want. He sounds like a high-achieving boy, you sound like supportive parents. But there are lots of those around - the question is whether you are prepared to jump through the requisite hoops and be as flexible as necessary.

You're not new to independent education, and with your previous experience in mind you will be aware that you stand the best chance of generous financial aid if you apply to a school that can offer this. That's not always the school down the road. Or even 50 miles away.

(BTW, you haven't said exactly what kind of school you think would be best for him (beyond its eagerness to take in fees...) If you're serious about this don't "project" - it's not about your own missed opportunity - concentrate on finding the right school. You'll know it because they will want your son enough to pay for him....)

ZeroSomeGameThingy Thu 13-Feb-14 13:12:24

X posted of course!

Word of advice. Don't begin by phoning the bursars. Begin by getting hold of their literature (beyond what's on the website) and making arrangements to visit with your son. Let them see how enthusiastic he is and what an asset he would be to the school. Go home. Follow up with bursary conversation.

And I'll say it again, if you need the money, you need the school that has a lot of it. The grand school; the one you think is above your station... (Can you see btw that you're still doing what you did as a child?)

middleclassonbursary Thu 13-Feb-14 13:19:42

You don't say where you live. But here are my suggestions if you would consider boarding and your DS is very bright Eton and Win Coll both offer bursaries to non scholars. You would need to contact them both and ask for their advise. Although Win Coll is not very sporty, you have time to register at both for 13+ entry. St Pauls also offers bursaries to non scholars but you may not be in time to register but its changed recently I think. Christ's Hospital again full boarding is a very obvious choice and takes at 11+, Magdalen College Oxford (day) I believe does also bursaries Bradfield used to do bursaries at 13+ for those from the state sector don't know if it still does but worth looking into.
Otherwise most 13+ independent schools offer scholarships these often carry no or only a nominal financial reward but then most will top up with a means tested bursary How clever/talented at sport/musical you have to be depends on the school, for example to get a music scholarship to my DS's school you have to be at the very least a grade 8 preferably in a niche instrument others will not require this level. For an academic scholarship for a super selective your DS will have to be a genius for a fairly non selective independent school he wont have to be its all relative. But at 13+ your DS will be competing with those who've been very very carefully prepared for scholarships by their prep school (the number of scholarships or a yearly basis are part of their marketing spiel) so competion is fierce. Im not saying you cant do it but you just need to be aware its not easy.

Slapntickleothewenches Thu 13-Feb-14 13:22:17

zero No, nobody got their money back and the teachers weren't paid either angry
I want a school where he will be pushed and challenged and given every opportunity to get the most out of life. Academically I know he can achieve well in either setting, albeit one with probably more input from us than the other. Its more the overall experience that he would get from private education. It's hard to explain but he is a private school boy. We recently popped into our local prep school open day and both DH and I commented how differently he behaved in that environment. He seemed so relaxed and at home and is completely unfazed by the manners, structure, discipline etc.
I guess we will see what comes of my contact with the bursars before we go any further <wibble>

gingerbeard Thu 13-Feb-14 13:23:01

Think carefully before going back into private education if A) you are near a good state school and b) if it's going to be financially tough. If you have a smart well motivated child, I would be tempted to plump for the good state school, and top up with private tutoring if required. I say this as a parent of children in private education. In recent years I have seen the DCs of close friends do fantastically well at state schools because they are smart and well motivated. They are now at Oxford, Bristol and Exeter...with offers from the likes of Durham and Manchester. DC's well thought of private school is not getting the number of pupils into Oxbridge that it did....what I'm saying is, if you have a good state school, and don't go to sleep at night dreaming of Westminster (ref to THAT thread!!) then state might be the way to go. I'd also suggest that it is harder for a state school pupils to do well at CE than it is at 11+ (IMO).

middleclassonbursary Thu 13-Feb-14 13:25:28

Couldn't disagree more. Don't waste you time and raise your DS's hopes if the biggest bursary the school has ever given is 30% and your going to need 80%. We've been on very substantial bursaries for over 10 years and we've learnt the hard way, don't take too much notice of grandiose claims on web sites speak to the bursar suss the lie of the land before bothering to visit. Only once did I not take my own advise and my DS1 was very disappointed when we told him that despite loving the school and their very grandiose claims about bursaries on their website they had no intention of offering us a bursary.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Thu 13-Feb-14 13:27:41

Yes. Sorry, I was stupidly thinking of your DS going in to a prep (which would actually be a good idea...) But if you are only thinking of senior schools it will probably be less personal.

Middle is quite right. Think carefully about applying to the right schools - and then prepare well.

You need a great prep.

Slapntickleothewenches Thu 13-Feb-14 13:29:45

middle we are in Dorset smile
He mentioned Eton (we have been reading the Young James Bond series before bed!) and we had a poke around their website for fun- DS was smitten grin
I think zero is right and I am afraid of pushing our DS in to a social circle that he is totally out of his depth in (though I just read a thread on this board almost completely to the contrary) I also imagined he would wish to come home frequently so closer proximity was important. May have a rethink on that one then.

middleclassonbursary Thu 13-Feb-14 13:37:30

Rubbish if you and he like Eton give it a go. There's a reasonable cross section of children but competition for any places is very stiff. But as thye say nothing ventured nothing gained.
Look at Sherbourne they might offer bursaries to children who are not scholars, friends DC's are at Bryanston they like it he would have to get a scholarship and top up with a means tested bursary but its not overly selective so perfectly doable for a bright child,, and I think Dauntsey offers a bursary scholarship to a new boarder least it did. Marlborough is more selective than these three but will also offer scholarships and means tested bursaries not my cup of tea but plenty like it.

grovel Thu 13-Feb-14 13:43:13

Eton and Radley both have full-fee scholarships for boys from age 11 (they pay for two years at a prep). Neither would laugh at your enquiry.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Thu 13-Feb-14 13:47:42

OP Don't fret grin

I wrote a long rambling post before but deleted it because you hadn't asked for an impertinent analysis of your character....

I'm glad it wasn't just you who lost your money, because then I would have had to speak harshly about dopeyness and day dreaming and avoiding the more obvious issues that need addressing in your life...

Anyway. Yr 5? Ideally he would be in a decent prep to start Yr 6. But press ahead regardless. You have until he is 10 and a half to register with Eton. He would not have to do Common Entrance if he's at a state school - they have that covered. I would pick up the phone to Winchester today as their optimum age for visiting is younger than Eton.

Please, please put aside the nonsense about "social circles".

Slapntickleothewenches Thu 13-Feb-14 14:18:43

Interestingly middle I come totally neglected Sherborne and their website says they do upto 100% bursaries <ponders>
Bryanston & Milton Abbey are quite vague and with no mention of percentages. In a staggeringly British way I am uncomfortable asking the maximum they would contribute but know that I will actually need to.
I may also chuck Eton into conversation tonight, just to see DHs face grin

summerends Thu 13-Feb-14 15:59:20

What about Canford? They get Oxbridge entrants for tough subjects (in fact do better in that regard for medicine than a lot of other selective public schools) so seem to be capable of doing well with the brightest. They are also very good at rowing which is a sport that suits the self motivated tryer. The music I know less about or what their bursary pot is like.

grovel Thu 13-Feb-14 16:35:20

OP, are you West/East/North Dorset?

My favourite county.

Slapntickleothewenches Thu 13-Feb-14 17:05:43

South grovel grin
Though administratively we come under West Dorset.

grovel Thu 13-Feb-14 17:25:36

Anywhere near Bridport? I go to Powerstock as often as possible. Glorious.

Don't give more info than you want to.

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