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Private school: is it an option?

(29 Posts)
Bookridden Thu 09-Mar-17 17:41:09

Would really welcome some advice from Miners. DD is aged 10 and in year 5. I've just had parents evening. DD is very hard working and keen to learn. She is average at maths, but her teacher considers her to be outstanding at reading and writing. The teacher asked us if we had considered applying to a private secondary school as she thinks that DD 's work in English is so exceptional that she might qualify for a bursary. She has shown DD 's writing to a teacher from a nearby public school and wanted to know if we would be happy to receive info from this private school teacher. She also recommended we check out a charity called Springboard.

Great to get such good feedback about DD, but my questions are this :

Are such bursaries available and who for?
Our household income is about £50k. Not enough to pay fees, but not life on benefits either. Surely we are too rich to be eligible?
Thirdly, DD is just average at maths; to qualify for these things, don't you have to be super-amazing across the board?

DD is a lovely, bookish, anxious to please kid from a pretty ordinary background. What are our options?

Thank you

porkforsupper Thu 09-Mar-17 17:47:33

My 2 boys are at private school so have no experience of the state system.

Why not try out? If you don't want her to go / don't qualify / you can say no and put it on her CV.

IMO private schools are great and if you can get a bursary, lucky you!!

BrieAndChilli Thu 09-Mar-17 17:47:56

Our local private school bursaries are on a sliding scale so if you earn £0 (so are on benefits) you would get 100% bursary.
The percentage of bursary decreases up to £43k upon which you would then get no bursary at all.
Scholarships are up to about 25% of fees

Zodlebud Thu 09-Mar-17 18:11:47

Bursary applications look at a whole range of things. If you have savings then you would be expected to use them. If you have a lot of capital in your house then you would be expected to remortgage. If you spend lots on driving a flash car then you would be expected to downgrade. If you go on three holidays a year you would be expected to cut back. If you have investments then you would be expected to sell them.

Bursaries are there for children whose parents really have nothing spare as opposed to those who do have the money but choose to spend it elsewhere. I have been involved in auditing bursary applications at a top independent school and you would be amazed at what some very wealthy parents disclose as their "income"!!!

That said if your combined income is £50k gross then at the school I worked at it would be borderline as to whether you would be eligible. For example, if you are spending huge amounts on rent each month to live in a modest property, have big travel bills to get to work etc, these would all be taken into consideration. It's very worthwhile making a list of your monthly income and expenses and working out what you can do without, and what you could cut back on. That would give you an idea of what you can really afford if you had to and that is what a bursar is looking for.

I would look into the scholarships offered by the school in greater detail too as these are not means tested but tend to be less of a discount than bursaries - every little helps!!!!

Don't think that private will also be better for your daughter. There are some awesome schools around with literary and creative writing programmes if that's what she loves.

Bookridden Thu 09-Mar-17 18:13:23

Well, ok, just looked at a few websites for private schools in our area and it's definitely a no-no. Springboard is a charity for pupils on FSM, which is not DD. Bursaries are available, but comparatively few, and then they only cover 25% tops of the fees. And fees are generally around the £15k per annum plus extras. That's too much to find when you've got a mortgage and your take home income is around £50k. DD is going to have to make the best of the local secondary! Thanks anyway.

Allthebestnamesareused Thu 09-Mar-17 19:26:05

Just looked at son's school website. They will look at bursaries for people with an income of less than £73,000.

mummytime Thu 09-Mar-17 19:45:32

OP - don't necessarily get too disheartened. I know on girl who got a "creative writing" scholarship to a local high performing girls school, but did so little creative writing once she got there that she might as well have gone to a local state school.
Another girl was encouraged to apply to a local Public school because of her sport, but didn't get offered a scholarship in the end.
State schools can do very well, and if your DD is gifted she may well get lots of opportunities to shine and be stretched.

happygardening Thu 09-Mar-17 20:30:28

What about Christ's Hospital? Their boarding fees are coming in at about £32K so there is obviously a higher income threshold when it comes to qualifying for a bursary. Although I suspect she would have to significantly improve her math to get a place I understand they're looking fora child to be in the top 1/3.
You can often get a scholarship which may have little or no financial reward attached; only the prestige of winning one and then apply for a bursary, this is very common. But most schools who are offering academic scholarships want to see at the very least a solid ability in all areas again I suspect just being "average" at math wont be good enough.Could you get. tutor to improve her math? Mind you this still is no guarantee of success. Competition for scholarships is fierce and children currently at prep schools will be well prepared (this is how preps market themselves).

GnomeDePlume Thu 09-Mar-17 20:53:02

You have a healthy household income. You will be able to afford different experiences which can enrich not just her life but yours as well: theatre trips, museums, summer schools. You may be able to consider tutoring to help her maths along.

Not being tied to scraping together school fees will give you flexibility to give your DD experiences which can be tailored to fit her changing interests.

Honestly, I think you may have dodged what could have become a millstone.

Bookridden Thu 09-Mar-17 22:09:22

Gnome - that's how I'm going to choose to see it! We can and do have holidays, day trips, theatre, cinema etc and we spend a lot on books too! I don't want to pressure DD in maths - she meets age related expectations, and I think to push for more would just create unnecessary stress. Hopefully, if her English is as good as I think her teacher was implying, this will be identified at her next school and developed. Thanks for all the comments.

boogiewoogiebaby Fri 10-Mar-17 09:31:40

There was an article in the times last week about key public schools lowering prices to help with situations like yours - will find link and post..,

boogiewoogiebaby Fri 10-Mar-17 09:33:27

2014newme Fri 10-Mar-17 12:18:00

Hilarious that Westonbirt is included in that article. It's very much for gels who are the daughters of landed gentry and popular with the county set. Think polo and pearls, jilly Cooper style However it's a big crumbling old building and I guess they may need to up their middle class intake.

GnomeDePlume Fri 10-Mar-17 13:41:31

I must admit that I did raise an eyebrow at the teacher's behaviour. There was a bit of a hint of touting for business on behalf of her friend.

Bookridden Fri 10-Mar-17 20:23:30

Thanks for the link

Gnome - I don't think she was touting for business as her friend teaches at a very exclusive school that is blatantly not for people like us. I don't think she knew what she was talking about, but her intentions were honourable I'm sure.

Clavinova Fri 10-Mar-17 20:26:53

Bursaries are available, but comparatively few, and then they only cover 25% tops of the fees.

Are you sure you haven't misread the school website op? Up to 25% off the fees sounds like a scholarship amount to me - not a bursary. Scholarships are not usually means tested and a bursary can be granted on top of this amount. It would be unusual for a private secondary school to limit bursaries to only 25% off the fees although a prep school might.

Bookridden Fri 10-Mar-17 20:28:49

Have just read that link, thank you. Don't think we've got any of those Happy Shopper private schools round here! Am firmly reconciled to the idea of a good, culturally rich family life which we can enjoy if we don't have to worry about fees, and am glad I don't have to worry about the ethics of it all.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and it was really helpful to be able to ask these questions in a safe environment.

Crumbs1 Fri 10-Mar-17 20:30:10

Are your local state schools not capable of providing a good education? Plenty of very bright children do well out of comprehensives. Plenty of not very good independent schools with clever marketing but poor teaching.
Bursaries can be very significant and outgoings as well as income are considered.

Chewbecca Fri 10-Mar-17 20:32:00

Are you sure the teacher wasn't meaning a scholarship, not a bursary?

You can apply for (&receive) a scholarship regardless of income. Why not have a look at scholarships instead?

Wineandchocolatebiscuits Fri 10-Mar-17 20:36:56

Just to say private schools aren't always better schools - they just cost more!

And I got a first from oxford university having gone to the most bog standard of secondary schools.

It's the sixth form years that you need to make sure she's in the right place - so she gets good a levels and help applying to the right universities. Many unis including oxford do helpful schemes for students wanting to apply from state school and you can also pay for private coaching for the interviews.

Iamastonished Fri 10-Mar-17 20:40:32

"Just looked at son's school website. They will look at bursaries for people with an income of less than £73,000."

shock Are you in London? When we looked at private school for DD in 2011 the income level for a bursary was £40,000 (in West Yorkshire). I doubt it would be anywhere near £73k now.

Bookridden Fri 10-Mar-17 21:54:20

The secondary schools in my town are not great (50% of kids get 5 GCSEs at our local school and it's considered "rough" but I don't know how accurate this perception is). However, my DD is a bit of a swot, so hopefully she will do well wherever she ends up.

I may well have been muddled about scholarships versus bursaries, but either way we couldn't afford more than 2 to 3k a year anyway. And I suppose the thing with scholarships is that they're for pretty remarkable kids. I'm the proudest mama ever and I loved the teacher telling me that DD's reading and writing were outstanding, but there's going to be plenty of kids who are like that, even if not in DD's school. And the pressure on her if we went down that route...

GnomeDePlume Sat 11-Mar-17 08:16:33

50% isnt great but it isnt dreadful either. What it means is that they have a broad spectrum of ability within the school which works to your advantage.

You mentioned that your DD is less strong at maths. She will find herself in a set where she will be surrounded by people of similar ability. She will be taught at that ability level. That is so much better than sitting in a class of maths whizzes and just not getting it.

Look at what the state schools have to offer both in terms of the formal stuff and also in the extra curricular. Which school offers the best fit all round. Remember that if you arent already having to pay school fees then you will be in a good position to plug any gaps.

Wineandchocolatebiscuits Sat 11-Mar-17 09:12:14

Yes hire private tutors in certain subjects if you need to - much better way of spending your £2k a year.

Iamastonished Sat 11-Mar-17 16:36:25

We couldn't afford private school for DD and took the view that we would pay for a tutor should the need arise.

DD had always been in the top set for maths and when she started in year 11 she struggled because her maths teacher just didn't "get" her. We got her a tutor and her results shot up so much that she qualified to be entered for iGCSE maths in the January, in which she achieved an A*.

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