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secondary schools - at what stage should we ask about bursary/scholarship?

(16 Posts)
chopchopchop Fri 15-Apr-16 14:25:11

DD is v bright and it's been suggested by her current school that she would do well at a selective school - there are two locally. We would only be able to afford this if she got some kind of bursary or scholarship.

But at what stage should we mention this to the school? Straight up, or do we wait until after the entrance exams? I'd rather leave it until then, not least in case she doesn't actually do that well, but what do the schools prefer?

shushpenfold Fri 15-Apr-16 14:28:47

It should make no difference to the school although it would be good to find out the level of award which comes with the scholarship.

Some are low (e.g. 15% off fees) and some schools will then only allow you to apply for a bursary if your DD is successfully awarded a scholarship. Other schools will have higher scholarship levels (e.g. 50% off fees) and will also allow bursar applications if you pass the basic exam. Good luck!

bojorojo Fri 15-Apr-16 14:38:34

I think you do need to ask about Bursary information as soon as possible. These are usally means tested so you do need to know if you qualify or not. There are many schools where an academic scholarship may not be worth much of a fee reduction and you will need a bursary to go with it. You will need to judge if you quality because should you DD get a scholarship, but no bursary, are you in a position to take up the place? What would you do? Is it kind to let her think she is going to the selective school, but then find out you cannot afford it? Have the conversations with the schools.

Try and find out how clever a child has to be to get a scholarship and what income levels are required for a bursary. All schools will have information on income/savings levels and then you can make an informed decision about an application.

You will also need to know what system they use for entrance exams. Is it papers based on the national curriculum or do they have verbal and non-verbal reasoning too? Are the scholarship exams separate from the standard entrance exams or are scholarships just awarded to the top X %? What about interviews? I think you need to prepare in advance and not just turn up on the day.

Assuming you do qualify, I am sure other posters will have great advice on when to apply for a bursary.

Gruach Fri 15-Apr-16 15:36:45

Obviously every school is different but if the scholarship and/or bursary process is well established all the initial information should be clearly set out on the schools' websites. There should be no room for uncertainty as to what the procedure is.

If a school doesn't have a well established, clearly outlined aim of attracting deserving applicants - leaving you to second guess a suitable approach - it may not be worth considering.

LIZS Fri 15-Apr-16 15:42:31

You normally make the request at the time you register. However you may want to sound them out beforehand as to the criteria and how many are available at what level of fee remission.

happygardening Fri 15-Apr-16 15:54:37

What does the schools websites say about bursaries and or scholarships? Scholarships often have little or no financial reward. You need to read the relevant pages on the website very carefully, many only offer bursaries to pupils who either win a scholarship by doing well in their separate scholarship exam or come top in their entrance exam but this isn't always very clear if you read the info too quickly.
Do you need a substantial bursary? Many schools have quite small bursary pots, and would rather offer lots of small bursaries rather than one large one to one child.
As others have said read the schools websites on scholarships and bursaries and then talk to the bursar. I think you'll have to be very honest and realistic about how much you can realistically afford. From reading comments on here many apply for bursaries and either don't get one or not as much as they hoped and therefore are very upset when their DC's can't attend the school. You'd be well advised make sure you have a back up.
If youre not already doing this it might be worth considering the very big names, and maybe boarding. The very big names are often very wealthy, and are also trying to move towards a needs blind admission policy so are often more generous. Christs Hospital unlike many senior boarding schools starts in yr 7 which is obviously better if your DC is in the state sector and has a very generous bursary policy. Frustratingly for parents there is no one universal policy, but often they expect both parents to be working, and to free up capital of its in a second home, many will scrutinise your every asset, visit your home and look at everything you spend your money on down to the last penny,
Good luck.

happygardening Fri 15-Apr-16 15:56:47

You could also search bursaries on here there's been lots of threads before about it giving lots of advise.

LadyPeterWimsey Fri 15-Apr-16 16:00:45

We talked to the school's bursar at an early stage, because we didn't want to enter DC for entrance exams if there was no money forthcoming. We thought from the website that we would qualify for something, and the school very helpfully suggested we fill in the bursary application forms and they would give us an idea (non-binding, of course) of how much we might get. The figure they came back with was manageable, so we entered the DC for the exams. In the end, the figure was even higher, and there were some scholarships on top.

Definitely talk to the school early on and be open about your financial situation. Since every school is different, don't assume that two different schools will treat your accounts in the same way.

chopchopchop Fri 15-Apr-16 16:12:35

Thanks everyone. I'm just about to start looking at schools (DD is currently 9) and am doing this on my own to make sure that we aren't setting her up with expectations about schools that she won't ever be going to. There is a state backup too, so nothing is disastrous if no scholarships are forthcoming.

What I'm not finding on any of the websites is a sense of what the bursary criteria might be. I suspect we will be borderline cases, if eligible at all.

Happy gardening - DH's father went to Christs and is now involved in fundraising, so funnily enough I know far more about their entrance procedures and internal politics than is rightly necessary. But I don't think we are going to go for boarding, and the one big name locally has a reputation for attracting the mega-rich, with each half term and holiday being a storm of helicopters coming in and out. They are apparently generous, but even so, I don't think it's for us...

chopchopchop Fri 15-Apr-16 16:13:11

LPW - cross posts. I will try the same tack then.

happygardening Fri 15-Apr-16 16:29:17

Bursary criteria a vary from school to school which is why you've been advised above to talk to the bursar.
My DS is at a school which I've been informed by someone very much in the know has some of the wealthiest parents of any school in the country. There are no helicopters picking up children although of course there are Astons Ferraris and plenty of chauffeurs. Most of he parents are pretty a pretty scruffy bunch normal friendly bunch. But now nearly 120 out of 700 pupils are on bursaries averaging a 65% reduction. The school is moving towards a needs blind admissions policy. So don't be put off by a school that is perceived to be only got the "mega wealthy" they've often got big bursary pots.

LadyPeterWimsey Fri 15-Apr-16 17:12:11

You're not Surrey or West Sussex, are you? I have a little bit of experience of some of the private schools down that way. Feel free to PM if so.

chopchopchop Fri 15-Apr-16 17:53:02

That's very kind, LPW, but we're quite a lot further west.

happy gardening - I have been told anecdotally that the school concerned is quite generous with bursaries, but I don't think its what we'd want for DD who, unlike the school, is not very strong on sport (some understatement there)

happygardening Sat 16-Apr-16 02:40:59

It's worth having a look you might be pleasantly surprised. Lots of independent schools have a "sporty" reputation but what this often means is the very able are well catered for with specialised coaches physio etc for the top players, but this doesn't have to mean that the non sporty are ignored.

bojorojo Sat 16-Apr-16 23:06:28

Schools will always say they have successful sports teams but in a large school that will not involve every pupil. Girls schools start at y7. It is co-ed and boys schools that start at y9. I think schools can be very coy about what levels of income/wealth qualify for a bursary and what levels of property ownership are allowed - and savings. It can be very difficult to judge if you qualify if the school is not open about this. It remained a mystery at our school! It was very much tied to whether they wanted the child.

happygardening Sun 17-Apr-16 00:02:00

IMO it's good to look at quite a few schools even at least one you don't think you'll like for whatever reason. Many years ago (when my DS's were only very little) I looked at our local prep, a known pushy hot house with a high drop out rate after a couple of years, it was as ghastly as Id been told and expected, although I admit to being fascinated by some of the other parents who were being shown round, up until then I hadn't grasped how pushy some parents can be. But I did learn a lot of educational jargon, got an idea for what this particular school did and expected of their children in reception etc how much art PE etc they did and was then able to make a comparison when I looked at others.
A few years later when looking for a senior school for my DS I looked at SPS I was determined not to like it as I didn't even want to add it to our short list for a variety of reasons, but I was completely blown away by it.
So do look even you local "big name", most have regular open days/morning and know that many parents are just looking round and won't take it any further. At worst you'll have learnt a little about what secondary education can look like in the independent sector and at best you might be surprised to find you love it and all it has to offer and decide to try for a place.

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