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What to expect when asking for bursary in Reception?

(54 Posts)
Bursarybeggar Thu 01-May-14 10:46:17

I have recently realised we are 0.6 miles out of catchment for the local comp that we were planning to send DS to. Sadly the only other option is dire and further away (under subscribed). We are in a grammar area and they only had 2 people pass the 11+ last year! They are the 'troubled kids school' and over 2 miles walk away.

Realising this I have decided to look into bursaries for a local Indie school that is practically on our doorstep. It gets 98% pupils to pass 11+ which would mean I would only have to pay private for Junior and we wouldn't be a burden on the bursary for Seniors.

Financially I own our house outright but only bring in around £1700pm as a landlord, which won't be enough to cover the £3k termly costs.

When DS is old enough to be in full time school I will be happy to work on top of this and probably bring in another £1k pm (assuming I will need flexi-hours to collect him and so a smaller salary than I used to have).

I am a single parent and DS's dad now pays only £27.00 pm for maintenance (long story and needless to say it's not reflective of his actual wage). The main issue with this is that I don't feel I can work until DS is in school every day for a full day as I have no other child support.

I have sold my car and given up driving due to the financial pressures we are now under as a twosome and I am loathe to remortgage a house I worked so hard to clear, but I am aware this may be something the school would ask me to do. I just don't know how I would pay that back monthly on top of my salary going towards school fees!

Am I just being completely naive in thinking this is an option for DS? What other sacrifices can I make to ensure he gets a decent education? I have considered moving but I don't want to uproot either of us from friends who have supported us so much over the last 3 years.

Bursarybeggar Thu 01-May-14 11:05:13

Our monthly outgoings (TV with no sports package/£30pm mobile/£120 monthly food shop and utilities/Council Tax etc - no luxuries) is £1040pm, so even if I didn't buy any clothes for us and we never took the bus/train to have a day trip, we would still only have around £660 to put towards the fees monthly. So just over half of what we would need.

Xihha Thu 01-May-14 11:14:07

individual schools have different bursary schemes, not all indies offer bursaries and some that do don't offer them to pre-prep students (under 7) so you really need to contact the school and ask, they usually have some information they can give you.

tallulah Thu 01-May-14 11:15:38

By the time your DS is 11 everything will be completely different. Schools change all the time and you are talking about 8 years?

TBH I would find it highly unlikely that any school would offer a bursary before age 7, and then it would be linked to aptitude.

Bursarybeggar Thu 01-May-14 11:17:49

Thank you for replying. I have arranged a viewing in a week and said that I may well be looking at any bursary options. They said they have spaces for DS and would talk to me about the bursary, so I had assumed they offered it for his age or they would have simply said no?

I am hoping it is a yearly adjustment and we will only need it for a year or two at the most until I find a job to cover it all.

teaandthorazine Thu 01-May-14 11:21:54

Bursaries for that age are rare but it doesn't mean they don't exist. It's always worth a shot, imo. You will have to reapply every year, and if you can make the case that you will probably only need it for a couple of years, it might stand you in better stead.

Bursarybeggar Thu 01-May-14 11:23:21

Yes, two local senior schools have been closed down which were close to us, again meaning the Grammar is the closest and only option. Maybe I am thinking of distance too much because we no longer have a car!

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 01-May-14 11:25:33

I have never known any schools offer bursaries for children below the age of 7. Even the prep schools that only cater for children up to year 6 only usually offer bursaries to junior aged children.
If the school that you are considering does offer bursaries to children from reception there might be very strict rules on parental income. Your 20k annual income is possibly low enough to be considered for a bursary but they might take your no mortgage and landlord status into account. They might expect you to sell the rented property to raise the money for fees as most people don't have the luxury of no mortgage and a rental income. Schools do often expect the parents to take every reasonable measure to contribute towards the fees themselves rather than relying on a bursary which could be used to assist a child from a less privileged background.

Is there any reason that you couldn't do the state primary for infants and then move your child to the private school once they reach junior age and you are in a position to pay the fees?

Alibabaandthe40nappies Thu 01-May-14 11:27:25

Surely by the time he goes to secondary he will be making his own way to school - bus?

I would have thought cheaper in the long term to run a car than pay school fees - if you can pay fees in a couple of years then you can afford a car instead?

No harm in asking though.

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 01-May-14 11:27:57

Are you really paying £120 per month for a mobile phone?

Could you work now to increase your income as most private schools have good wraparound care on the premises?

PancakesAndMapleSyrup Thu 01-May-14 11:32:03

I second the if you dont ask you dont get, however please dont get your hopes up. You own your house outright it is unlikley they will offer you one. Why dont you also ask about paying the full fees in advance and see what discount you get. E.g. you remorgage for the whole of the 7 years cost of school they may give you for example 20% off the the fee total if you do this. Then you have morgage to repay and the fees are already covered.

Bursarybeggar Thu 01-May-14 11:43:11

My mobile is £30pm, think you are thinking of our monthly food/groceries bill Impatient - I feel we have scaled back massively but appreciate some have a lot less.

Pancakes that is an interesting idea. The house should have a lot of equity. It's hard to know whether to look for work and check out wraparound care from the school, or whether to remortgage and then work on finding the right job over the next 6 months...

Is there any reason that you couldn't do the state primary for infants and then move your child to the private school once they reach junior age and you are in a position to pay the fees? - the under subscribed comp has a reputation for children who don't mix well (for want of a better phrase) and I would worry how DS would integrate into an indie after this. I would rather not work and attempt to home school than send him there!

Maybe that is another option, but I have no teaching experience whatsoever!

Really using this as a sounding board as only considered this an option in the last couple of weeks!

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 01-May-14 11:45:36

Also worth bearing in mind that the grammar school might not exist in 7 years time. We might not have any grammar schools by then. What would you do if the grammar school became a dire comp and your DS wanted to stay in the private school for seniors / go to another independent senior school?

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 01-May-14 11:52:46

the under subscribed comp has a reputation for children who don't mix well (for want of a better phrase) and I would worry how DS would integrate into an indie after this. I would rather not work and attempt to home school than send him there!

You are in danger of sounding really snobby now and I am intrigued as to how you arrived at the assumption that the comp kids don't mix well.
I am not against private school (I use one for one of my own children and get some financial help with the fees) but I think your assumptions about the comp are very judgy.
Do you know how many children with additional needs attend the 'dire comp'? Just because a school is undersubscribed and doesn't get many kids into the local grammar school it doesn't mean that it is a failing school. There are many factors that should be looked at when assessing how good or bad a school is and the results is not the most relevant factor.
I think you should look into the bursary scheme and I hope that you get a positive outcome from it. But please bear in mind that out of your £660 spare income you might have to contribute towards fees, expensive school trips and an expensive uniform. Fees also usually rise by more than inflation each year so you need to factor the rise into whatever your % contribution is after any bursary element.

Crosseyedcat Thu 01-May-14 11:54:56

Bursaries at this level are very unusual. It is much more usual at 7 plus.

I think you need to work full time and get wrap around care.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Thu 01-May-14 12:24:19

If you are in the UK - and you do not have concrete proof that the school in question offers bursaries to reception age children - then yes, you are being naive.

I also have not come across any mainstream school offering fee assistance for this age group. It's far too early to discern any particular talent short of actual genius - so there would be no benefit to the school.

You may need to call them again and clarify. I think they were fobbing you off in the hope that once you've seen the place you will suddenly find the fees.

Bursarybeggar Thu 01-May-14 12:24:57

I possibly am a bit snobby about the other comp. I think most people know some schools they would never send their DC to, and sadly this is mine. I more than happy to send him to one that was closer, but it is sadly not going to happen due to their catchment/popularity.

I think working full time is the way forward - I'd not want a mortgage on the house in case I fell ill and no one could repay it/repossession on top of trying to look after a child ill, etc. As I said I am happy to do that and have been looking this morning at what is out there locally. I think I should be able to cover fees and uniform this way. Childcare is my only concern, but I suspect they will put my mind at rest with Breakfast clubs/after school clubs when I visit. Working full time would mean I could possibly afford senior as well if the Grammar did get closed. This would mean 3 local senior schools closing with no new ones opening in 5 years, so hopefully that would be rightly seen as ridiculous.

The term fees are £2860 at the moment, so I have factored in some inflation there already - hopefully enough to be realistic?

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 01-May-14 12:47:07

The grammar schools wouldn't close, they would just become comps as as happened in many areas. The areas that no longer have grammar schools didn't close their grammar schools, they simply opened the admission to any child within the catchment. There is a likelihood that grammar schools results will fall if they cease to be grammar schools and therefore have a more varied ability intake. It doesn't mean the schools are worse though, just that the new intake has some children who are less academically able than the previous intake. A child's natural Academic ability is not an indicator of a good school.

Terms fees of £2680; does that include lunches? Does it include trips? Does it include 5% per annum increase?
For example: one of my local prep schools charges £2500 per term. The lunches are £190 per term. The trips vary according to age (junior all do a weekly residential), ingot any trips are £60 per term and junior trips are £160 per term (plus optional foreign trips). So the basic £2500 per term is actually nearer to £2800 per term, without even considering annual increases and uniform (initial uniform outlay is around £350).
Breakfast clubs and after school clubs are extra and can add up to a considerable amount over the term.
Ask all of these questions when you visit as the school might not be forthcoming with all the financial extras as they won't want to put you off.

middleclassonbursary Thu 01-May-14 13:07:21

I haven't read everything but agree bursaries at infant level are very rare in fact bursaries at yr 2/3 are pretty unusual basically small prep schools don't have large bursary pots.
It is also likely that they would want details of your DS's fathers income. It's not about how much he gives directly to you it's about his total income. But as others have said if you don't ask you won't get.
One final point we used to live in a county with lots of grammars and I know from talking to friends with DC's at "98% pass the 11+" type prep is what they don't tell you is that this does not mean they allow every child to sit it unlike the state sector who won't stop any child from sitting it, and that those who aren't up to being at "crammer for the grammar (as they are known) because they either aren't clever enough or they don't like the pressure these schools often put on children often decamp at around yr2/3 and move their children to nice schools for children who can't pass the 11+. My friend had her DS at one of these preps apparently 8 children left at the end of yr 3 of all different abilities and went to a nice through school. Many feel it's easier to get into one of these schools at yr 3 than at yr 7. So don't assume that just because your paying that entrance into the grammar is guaranteed, what would you do if he didn't get in? Can you carry on paying?

BadgerB Thu 01-May-14 13:43:34

You have obviously thought it through OP. Go and see the school and ask (perhaps before you go?) if you can meet the bursar while you are there. S/he may have some ideas you haven't considered. You've nothing to lose anyway.

Happyhetty Thu 01-May-14 13:56:22

I just wanted you comment to offer you some reassurance. My dd2 receives a 75% bursary in reception which will continue through preprep before increasing to 80% in prep at year 3-this is not linked in any way to ability as she is in fact special needs and the lowest achieving in her class. So bursaries are possible in pre prep, my dd1 is in year 2 at another prep (selective) and receives 100%.

Crosseyedcat Thu 01-May-14 14:31:08

Following on from my earlier comment (v unlikely to have bursaries below 7), the fact that you have capital behind you (the house) is very likely to be taken into consideration in any application.

I think you should reconsider using the local state school or move and liquidate cash by renting (and get a full time job.

threedaystogo Thu 01-May-14 15:02:16

It seems like an awful lot of money to spend over the next 7 years, just to improve his chances of passing the 11+ !! (And I say this as the parent of DCs in a grammar school).

You could send him to a tutor once a week for a year or so before the 11+, for a fraction of the cost. (With a very good chance of passing, as long as you get a good tutor.)

You could DIY - i.e. tutor him through the 11+ yourself. There are plenty of websites, resources, past papers etc you can get hold of. It's not rocket science. As long as both you and he are motivated, you can do it yourself for free.

You could move house so that you are definitely within the catchment for the good comp.

Or you could wait and see until he's 9 or 10. By then, the situation may look very different: The catchment area for the comp may have changed. The grammar school admissions process may have changed. Your DS may be so obviously super-intelligent that he will pass the 11+ regardless. Conversely, it may be clear that a grammar school would not be the right place for him at all. But if nothing has changed and you are still anxious to maximise his chances of passing, you could swap him into a private school then, and only have a couple of years of fees.

Bursarybeggar Thu 01-May-14 16:26:18

Yes, it is a lot of money. But I want to emphasise that this is because we aren't in any other catchment for a state - other than the worst in the entire area. As I said before I may be being snobby about that, but I don't know anyone who would willingly send their child there. There is a huge shortage of primaries in this area and there is simply no other comp option.

The termly fees do include lunches, but nothing else from what I can gather. Thank you for the list of things to check though, really useful! I went to an Indie but it was a very long time ago and we used the second hand shop as I grew so fast (think my parents made the mistake of using the official shop in the very first year and never again!).

I do think working full time would cover me for seniors if needed, it would literally be a year or possibly two if I could only get part time for a while that I would need a bursary. I do think they will take the house into consideration. I did think about moving but we only moved here 8 months ago (having been told by the agents we were in catchment for the good comp) and it was so stressful I don't think I could do that again!

The only issue I can see with working FT is the holidays. Obviously these are longer and so I would need to put aside even more to put her into a holiday club or something. Another thing I must ask about!

Bursarybeggar Thu 01-May-14 16:30:06

His Dad has managed to hoodwink CSA into believing he is on minimum wage - is more like £55k pa but neither I nor CSA can prove it. So would they be happy with confirmation from CSA? He has refused to see DS for the last 6 months, so I think he will gradually fade out of our lives (definitely not a source of extra income sadly - OW).

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