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Bursary to independent school - ex-husband's income/contribution?

(7 Posts)
pianoforte1 Mon 04-Dec-17 14:16:52

I have a bright Year 5 child and am a single mum with a part-time job. I've been divorced since December 2011 and receive spousal and child maintenance. The spousal maintenance will cease when my son starts at secondary school. I'd like him to try for a bursary to a local independent school for Year 7. I am only on about £12k a year and have a 10 yr old car and a mortgage on my 1960s terrace. I get child tax credits and my son is Pupil Premium. Will the independent schools demand that my ex-husband pays the fees even though I am primary carer for my son and have been since 2009? I doubt he would agree to pay towards fees because he will be rejoicing that he only has to pay Child Maintenance from that point (as part of our original divorce settlement and court order). Will my ex's salary (no idea what he is on now - possibly £65k) ruin any chance of a bursary for my son?
Any insights gratefully received!

gillybeanz Mon 04-Dec-17 14:28:17

hello, thought I'd start you off, now you are in educatio.
maybe you can link to your previous one and then those who started can continue if they wish to add more.

I think you need to find the school first as they all vary.
We get most fees paid for, but it's via the government not the school.
Some bursaries are only a few k per year, others are much more.
Also, with scholarships some don't offer any financial assistance at all, whilst others offer substantial savings.

Do also consider the uniform and any extra curricular activities, trips and of course increase in fees each year.
I think they will take into consideration your ex salary and/or any maintenance payments you'll receive, there again this will vary from school to school.

gillybeanz Mon 04-Dec-17 14:31:14

Have you considered grammar school, or a good state school with tutoring if you wish.
A lot cheaper and private school doesn't always give a better education.

Zodlebud Mon 04-Dec-17 17:44:40

There are so many factors to consider here and there is a very similar thread on the secondary education board.

If you are essentially the sole carer for your child and visits to your ex are once a fortnight for example then it is highly likely you would be eligible to apply on the basis of your income alone. If you have joint custody and the child spends half their time with their father then it’s a very different case as he is contributing significantly to their upbringing.

Not sure if you have more than one child or any other reason why you work part time, but it would be one of the first questions a bursar will ask. They will want to see you are doing everything in your power to pay and this would include working full time unless circumstances dictate otherwise.

I would echo a previous poster’s comments though. Your income is fairly low at present - you need to factor in uniform costs (can be in the region of £500+), transportation, trips and exam fees. Some extra-curricular activities are also chargeable and do fees include lunches?

Schools do give bursaries that cover some of these extras too but make sure you go in with your eyes wide open. Private is not necessarily best.

pianoforte1 Tue 05-Dec-17 09:22:08

Thank you for taking the time and effort to respond, both of you! Alas, I don't live in an area with grammar schools otherwise I would pursue that route.
I've worked as a part-time teacher since my son was a toddler in order to manage childcare etc on my own. He's at a tiny village school that has no before/after school provision (we were promised it when my son was in Reception and it never materialised!) and there is only one childminder in the village who totally dumped me in it a couple of years ago. She made more money from having toddlers all day than for the 'before and after school' hours I needed. So I now race back and forth from my village school which finishes 10 mins earlier, in order to collect him at home time! Basically, if I did more teaching hours, I would struggle to find any childcare at all (I've had to turn down 2 other job offers as a result) and this childminder used to charge me all through the school holidays even though I didn't need the care as a teacher. I was throwing money away! I'm trying to build up a few piano pupils (I have 2 hours worth a week at the moment) which involves little preparation and I can do it while my son plays upstairs. From September 2018, it looks like I may be able to teach peripatetic piano lessons in my school in addition to my current 2 afternoons and 1 whole day. However, the numbers are uncertain!
I've taught in both independent and state schools in my teaching career so I know the pros and cons of both. But as my child is 'on the spectrum', I am very concerned about the transition from a tiny village primary to a vast secondary school. Really worried he will be bullied, that his mental health will suffer and that, academically, he may fail whereas, he is miles ahead in his current school and very happy.
In my area, there is a big trust that provides the bursaries for several of the independent schools so the bursaries can be generous. If my income were taken into account only (and even with my maintenance payments included) the scale suggests I would pay very little towards the education. My ex has my son every other weekend and after school until bedtime once a week so it's not a half and half split.

NewtsSuitcase Tue 05-Dec-17 09:29:55

He isn't an absent father though so the chances of a bursary are fairly slim.

All you can do is ask though. Approach the school and get an appointment with the bursar. Agree with others that they will expect you to find full time work. My DSis went through this process.

I would think about this very carefully though. I have a child who has a learning disability and because he's at an independent school we don't qualify for any state SEN funding. As such, independent schools often charge more to cover the SEN support required, particularly if any additional classroom assistance, technology etc is needed. We are lucky in that our school doesn't charge but my BF has two DSs who are both dyslexic and in her area the independent schools charge extra.

Pythonesque Tue 05-Dec-17 09:39:12

The key thing is to try to find the best school for your son, and then see how it can be made possible. Agree you need to talk to the relevant bursar or someone at the trust who coordinates the assessments. Hope you can make the right place work.

(oh and good luck increasing the music teaching, I'm in a similar position to you that way)

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