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Private School and parent on benefits

(98 Posts)
Villagreg73 Tue 13-Mar-18 17:21:13

My ds is about to leave state primary and start private school. I'm a disabled single parent and ds school fees paid for by a generous school bursary and a great scholarship from a scientific charity because of his understanding of the subject. He's not especially gifted though.
To those trying to find a way to send their children to PS it is possible. Keep trying. Armed forces and trade organizations can often help. Large industrialists have educational foundations.
Apply and hope. Even a 15% discount from any source could be enough.

easypeasylife Fri 16-Mar-18 00:05:32

I can't imagine that even a 50% bursary let alone a 15% one would be sufficient to allow a child whose family are in receipt of benefits to attend private school. I hope lots of posters will come to say otherwise though!

Viviennemary Fri 16-Mar-18 00:11:17

Not quite surely exactly what point you are trying to make. I am sure everyone does their best for their children and some do even manage to get a very good education at a state school.

GrasswillbeGreener Fri 16-Mar-18 12:27:37

The schools my children are / will be at have offered us 50% plus and definitely offer much more to those who need more. Some schools indicate that their highest level of bursaries includes not just fees but contributions to the cost of uniform and school trips, appropriately recognising what the full costs of sending a child there are.

I think the point the OP was trying to make is that there are additional sources of funding that can make the difference between what a school can offer and what a family can afford.

Snaffoncrassin Fri 16-Mar-18 12:35:28

My only thought with bursaries and grants is the social side of it.

If all of the other children are from a different background I'd wonder how my children would fit in. We don't holiday abroad / go skiing wear expensive clothes and if everyone else was I'd hate it if I was the child and being known as the 'poor one' in the group.

mpsw Fri 16-Mar-18 12:44:09

The Armed Forces Continuity of Education Allowance is very strictly administered these days. You have to be qualifying mobile staff, it has to be boarding school (though if you are in future posted close to that school your DC can attend as a day pupil for the length of that posting), the spouse has to accompany the serving partner and move whenever they are posted. If you cease to qualify, then the payments end (though I think they still fund critical periods, so DC don't have to leave a school in the immediate run up to GCSE or A levels).

It's not a private school allowance - it's to defray the expense of boarding. State boarding is a popular choice, and Armed Forces families have priority at state boarding schools.

easypeasylife Fri 16-Mar-18 13:57:11

Why would a private school offer huge bursaries though? I would have thought that as a business they are trying to make money, rather than attract those who don't have any.

PotteringAlong Fri 16-Mar-18 14:01:52

I hope your level of fee funding is guaranteed for 7 years or else you could be knackered...

gillybeanz Fri 16-Mar-18 14:07:32

Op, my dd attends a specialist music schools with fees of 32K, we are a low income family and receive tax credits.
The fees are paid on a sliding scale of your family income, outgoings aren't taken into consideration.
Tax credits cover the fees we have to pay and the rest is from a gov M&D scheme.

I wasn't working but able, so got a pt job in a call centre as thought it was taking the piss to stay at home and not have to contribute at all.

I'm so pleased for your ds and it does show that social mobility exists in this country, even if it isn't enough.
I also think that parents can apply to various organisations for funding for specialist and/or private education if their child is particularly gifted/bright in a subject.
I wish him well and thanks for the thread.

Florin Fri 16-Mar-18 14:36:09

From parents who have a child at private school (we stopped at one to be able to afford this and it isn’t easy) the only thing I would say is to be careful what’s included.

Uniform, make sure there is help with this it is hugely expensive, our son is only in the pre prep and the uniform cost hundreds when he gets to just prep it will run to even more, just the blazer is £100 and they regularly get lost, and the pe kit is huge just the regular tracksuit for a 6 year old is £80 and then there is the football shirt, cricket kit, rugby kit, the sport thermals etc etc etc it is a never ending list secondary school is even worse.

School trips once they get to year 5 they are generally over a £1000 each and there are a few a year they are mostly optional but difficult if their friends are all going on them.
Parties are also expensive our child goes to just a regular in the country not over the top private school. You probably need to spend a minimum of at least £10 per present but really a bit more and I know this gets higher as they get older and parties generally are around the £400 mark or more.

World book day you get a letter saying your child can choose any book from the book stall plus they will get the book from the visiting 1 or 2 authors and the cost of all the books will just be added to your bill another at least £20 plus the costume for world book day.

They decide you child needs a little extra help in one area then they will be sent to the learning support teacher but that again will be extra £30 a week.

All the kids are learning a musical instrument and your child really wants to learn the guitar/drums/violin like his friend little Jonnie that’s another £25 plus instrument, plus music books, plus exam costs.

End of year can everyone put in £20 for the teacher’s present, we are doing this stall at the Christmas bazaar again all need to put in £20 for set up etc etc the list goes on the school reps will keep asking you for the money just assuming you can pay.

You go to your child’s nativity there is a collection at the end for whatever charity.

It just keeps going on and on.

The bursary your son has got is amazing and I don’t mean to say it isn’t he has done so well to get it, just from our recent experience we have been shocked how it isn’t just the school fees it is everything else that they just sort of assume you will pay for so worth checking what is included with your bursary and be prepared.

NerrSnerr Fri 16-Mar-18 14:50:07

Do you get help with the other stuff? Uniform, trips, sports (equipment, away matches- especially national stuff where they’ll need to stay over), other extra curricular stuff?

BertrandRussell Fri 16-Mar-18 14:53:13

“From parents who have a child at private school (we stopped at one to be able to afford this“

Such a heartbreaking thing to read sad

Florin Fri 16-Mar-18 15:52:39

bertrandrussell what is wrong with an only child? My son is a happy boy with no want for siblings, he adores our family dynamic. To have more would have been very expensive due to fertility issues and caused so much emotional stress possibly ruining his first few years. We felt the money, energy and emotion was best spent putting as much into the child we already have and giving us the time to enjoy him and we enjoy the freedom only having one gives us. Not everyone has good relationship with siblings infact some have awful ones which have really upset their lives. I also know children who are only children who are super happy, including my husband who loved his childhood as an only so much that even before fertility problem he only ever wanted one too. Yes private school is an advantage for him being an only as he certainly wouldn’t be there if we had 2. Being an only actually can be a positive for a child, why do people always have to be so judgemental about it. Our dad also had a major speech delay but because of only having one he had as much speech therapy as he needed and would have struggled to cope at a state school in a class of 30 instead he is in a class of 10 and is now flourishing and doing brilliantly, it was a choice we made for our child and in our opinion the right one. All I was trying to point out that there was costs to private school that was not just school fees as I think it is important people are aware of these and to be honest I guess the extras get even more complicated if you do have other children who aren’t in the private system trying to keep things fair.

BertrandRussell Fri 16-Mar-18 15:55:02

Nothing wrong with having an only child. Stopping at one because you don’t want a child to go to state school is the sad thing.

OutyMcOutface Fri 16-Mar-18 15:55:15

I think that OP is trying to raise awareness. Private schools aren’t the preserve of the elite the way that a lot of people seem to think. Well done OP. I wish you and your son luck.

OutyMcOutface Fri 16-Mar-18 15:56:12

@Bertrand surely stoping at the number of children you can afford is the right thing? I’ve stopped at two. Do you snob pity me too?

BertrandRussell Fri 16-Mar-18 15:59:11

I said specifically that I think it’s sad when I hear/read people saying that they stopped at one child so as to avoid state schools.

Krakauer Fri 16-Mar-18 16:00:37

OP, what % of fees are paid? My friend's DD got what she described as a generous bursary, but it was 15% of the 5k-per-term fees so still totally beyond our reach.

Thank you so much for suggesting about the industry scholarships 😊

CakesTeaCakesTea Fri 16-Mar-18 17:11:15

There are lots of London wise schools that offer 50% and even 100% bursaries and scholarships to bright children and to those from low income families. We should know we were offered a 100% bursary for prep school (but couldn’t take it up as self employed hubby’s business began to boom and so turned it down!)

CakesTeaCakesTea Fri 16-Mar-18 17:11:48


AnotherNewt Fri 16-Mar-18 19:28:16

Yes, there are indeed some London schools which offer large bursaries (over 100% in some cases as they can include required trips, uniform allowance and travel allowance). But that doesn't mean any school has yet achieve full 'needs blind' admission - though several (both in London and elsewhere) have this as their aim.

But as these schools have only a specific pot from which to fund those bursaries, they might decide to use the money to make 2X 30% and 4x15% offers instead. So yes, even in a bursary there may well be a hefty bill.

Every year, the number of careers paying enough for someone in their 40s could afford school fees shrinks. Those people are unlikely to have a low enough income to secure a bursary, but have been effectively priced out.

With more and more scholarships having the cash element reduced (or removed, making it a straightforward titular honour), the avenues for assistance are becoming fewer.

BrieAndChilli Fri 16-Mar-18 19:34:54

The problem is the rich can afford it as they always have done and the very poor - on benefits can get 100% paid for but there is still the middle who don’t get anything!
We looked into private for very very intelligent DS1. Our local private school doesn’t offer big scholarships maybe 10% of fees, the rest is then bursaries but it’s a sliding scale so people on full benefits get 100% and it drops off until you get to £45k when you get 0. We earn just over that but with 3kids and School fees at £15k a year (plus uniform and trips and sports kit and lunches etc all of which are more expensive than state schools) it just isn’t affordable.
We are in wales so don’t even have the option of grammar school either.

CakesTeaCakesTea Fri 16-Mar-18 20:49:24

The OP is a disabled single parent on benefits. Her message I assume was to people in her situation. Well done to your son OP. There are options out there. Lots of them and the key is to be creative and not get disheartened. It’s nice to be positive.

As for the squeezed middle (which we are too with 3 kids) it is difficult and manageable if you sacrifice a lot! Holidays we no longer can afford and days out/trips planned well in advance. I still regard us as very very fortunate.

soulrider Fri 16-Mar-18 20:53:34

I grew up in a county that has no private schools, no bursaries available there smile

gillybeanz Fri 16-Mar-18 21:14:55


Some people realise that state schools are pretty bad where they live, sticking at one and going private seems sensible in this respect.
I'm glad we had all 3, obviously I would never wish any of them away, but experiencing them receive a shocking education enables me to see why some would stick at one.

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