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Middle class parents trying to get private school bursaries

(89 Posts)
Hotdrop1 Wed 25-Sep-19 14:40:07

Would really welcome people's thoughts on this. I know of a couple of couples who are trying to get bursaries for their children to go to private school. They are all highly educated people from wealthy backgrounds but who either have low paying creative jobs (e.g. artist/film-maker) or left highly paying jobs to start their own companies which have yet to succeed. Both couples live in high-cost luxury, rented apartments but have little income coming in (although enough savings to keep paying the rent). I think if they want there kids to go to private school they should get off their arses and do some work that pays, rather than getting the school (AKA other parents at the school) to to pay for their kids education. What do you think as this is really pissing me off!!!! (Btw, I live in crap accommodation, and work all hours doing a job I hate to pay for my children's school fees). Are they taking the piss or am I just full of sour grapes because I didn't do what they're doing?

ForeverbyJudyBlume Wed 25-Sep-19 15:08:57

If they really have these savings you allude to they won't get bursaries, these things are checked out pretty carefully. If they don't they're as deserving of a bursary as anyone else, middle-class or not, if they can't afford the fees according to the school's criterion

JoJoSM2 Wed 25-Sep-19 15:52:42

Agree with ForeverbyJudyBlume

Hotdrop1 Wed 25-Sep-19 17:22:31

I understand that if they meet the criteria they have as much right as everyone else - in principle. BUT I think there is an ethical issue here. In my view, bursaries are for people who are doing the best they can but can't afford the fees. I think this is different from people who chose to live in very expensive housing when they could easily live in something less fab which could easily free up money or just get a job that pays an income. I suppose the other things that rankles is that both family look down on people who take handouts (e.g. benefits) which they deem they don't deserve. To me they are going for a massive handout - elite education.

JoJoSM2 Wed 25-Sep-19 17:28:45

I can see why you’re frustrated but bursaries for kids at indies are that way. And it isn’t for you to judge if they’re doing all they can or not in their professions. Someone higher earning than you could judge you for not trying hard enough in your career and not being able to afford a nicer house.

Personally, I think it’s more worthwhile using the money to fund sponsored state academies (which some schools do). That benefits more children but then every school has its own policy.

Hotdrop1 Wed 25-Sep-19 17:46:15

Thanks. It's helpful to get different perspectives on this although I still think it's a piss take.

JustOneSquareofDarkChocolate Wed 25-Sep-19 17:53:58

Applying for a bursary can be quite an invasive business. The bursar may do a home visit. At my children’s prep school it was suggested to one family that instead of applying for a bursary they remortgaged their house in an exclusive area and stopped running two very expense lease cars (they didn’t receive a bursary)

Drabarni Wed 25-Sep-19 18:04:14

You are talking about my family grin
Musicians and storywriter/teller.
We enjoy our work, it's not our fault our industries don't pay well.
I bet you have spotify or equivalent and expect your music to be free.

We have a bursary, the school offer up to 100% and is super selective, by auditions.
There are poorer than us there too, they get 100% bursaries.
We give our income every tax year and they tell us how much we pay.
It's as simple as that, unlike others where it's hard to gain a bursary.

sussexmama33 Wed 25-Sep-19 18:11:18

I guess the key phrase is 'trying to get'. If they don't deserve one, they won't get it. As others have said, schools are really intrusive with the finances of these families and are often reassessed every year. I knew one family that were told that their small bursary was being taken away as their house had gone up in value. This was a month before the fees were due.

lululup Wed 25-Sep-19 18:14:42

There are very few truly poor children receiving those awards. It's a load of shit to justify the school's' charitable statuses.

LordProfFekkoThePenguinPhD Wed 25-Sep-19 18:15:21

The bursary officers won’t give out any grants if they don’t see a ‘need’.

Drabarni Wed 25-Sep-19 18:17:41


Over 90% of kids at my dd school have bursaries, it's a charity.
I think you need to do more homework.

Passthecherrycoke Wed 25-Sep-19 18:19:26

I don’t see a problem with this at all. If they can’t afford it they can’t afford it. Private school is very expensive. They must be in enormously expensive properties if the difference between their houses and a normal house is enough to put their children through private school

IrmaFayLear Wed 25-Sep-19 18:23:18

I find the system dubious.

I knew people who were gardeners. Lovely life, with beautiful tied cottage. Nothing on paper, so private school bursaries. But... the couple came from well-off families and the children wanted for nothing: the grandparents had a holiday house in Cornwall/paid for everything. The parents' jobs were "hobby" jobs that most of us could not contemplate without family back up.

It all seemed a bit off.

Bringonspring Wed 25-Sep-19 18:26:40

Most prep schools I know run ‘scholarship’ programmes to get their children places in private secondary schools.

There is a big nature vs nurture point here. If you are prepped for exams and know how to do the applications for scholarships then of course that child is more likely to succeed that a child whose parents don’t understand the process.

How can private schools identify truly bright children when the parents don’t know about these arrangements.

Myriade Wed 25-Sep-19 18:29:47

Its not becuse they are well educated that they automatically will have the ability to earn a lot of money.
I am but I sure dont earn nearly as much as our plumber for example.

As for the luxurious rented appartment, who is paying? have thye told you they have savings they are using for that (If they do, they are stupid btw) or are you assuming?

Im always extremely careful about evaluating how much moeny people have based on any external signs.
I know people who are millionaires (as in millions in a bank account type of thing) and you would never think that looking at them (or their car etc...). and others who have a brand new mercedes, big car, flashy clothes and have nothing (all bought on credit, in debt up to their eye balls).

so unless you kow all the ins and outs of their financial situation, I wouldnt make any assumption either way

Myriade Wed 25-Sep-19 18:30:40

And YY about scholarship for the brighest children too....

Chilver Wed 25-Sep-19 18:36:26

So how does it work? You decide that that is the school you want your child to go to, apply and say 'oops, we cant afford it, can we have a bursary' or are these children who are selected because of a talent and/ or passed an exam to get selected (which would bring me back to the first part!)

I just dont understand how/ why you would choose a school if you knew you couldn't afford it? (Clearly I can't....grin)

JoJoSM2 Wed 25-Sep-19 18:47:31

Chilver, private schools have charitable status. As I mentioned upthread, some will use the extra money to sponsor state academies.
Others give bursaries to those that qualify though passing the entrance exams and being eligible for a place but not having the money to pay for it. I do feel like most people applying for bursaries are those that came from privileged backgrounds but are in lower paid jobs as opposed to some able kids from deprived backgrounds.

IrmaFayLear Wed 25-Sep-19 18:57:29


It never occurred to me to investigate private schools, let alone think that we might qualify for a bursary. Bursaries seem very much the domain of those who already know the system .

Hoppinggreen Wed 25-Sep-19 19:07:29

Dd has a 25% scholarship at Private school and I agree that it does help to “know the system”. I went to a Private school on 100% scholarship and DH went to State. He’s didn’t know scholarships existed, let alone how to apply for one, or how to coach DD on what to do to improve her chances of getting one. He didn’t know who to speak to at the school, who to network with to help her get a place or any of the other things I did that I’m pretty sure contributed to Dd getting the scholarship
The irony is that the scholarship kids aren’t actually the ones from the least wealthy families at the school and I’m pretty sure that the scholarship kids that I know of would still be there without getting the scholarships anyway, which aren’t means tested.
There’s also the “fish out of water” fear of some parents. I know plenty of families who could afford Private but dont think they would fit, this actually includes my DH funnily enough but he trusted me to navigate the system and he said that at least one of us would fit in at parents evening. He was very wrong, we both fit in fine but he was worried he wouldn’t.

Rachelover60 Wed 25-Sep-19 19:11:04

Bursaries are not just about the granting a monetary award for part of the school fees, the child has to be bright, passed entrance or 11+ quite well and be personable.

I don't think there is anything wrong with people from 'privileged' backgrounds applying for a bursary, whatever their background they could still be on a middling to low income and if they have two or three children, they probably need all the help they can get. They will still be paying fees, just less depending on their finances.

* Bursaries seem very much the domain of those who already know the system .*

Not really, it's only a question of filling in a form or forms and providing correct information, anyone can do that. The amount can change if salaries go up or down.

QuaterMiss Wed 25-Sep-19 19:23:48

Here you go @Chilver - info on bursaries at a particularly well placed school.

Chilver Wed 25-Sep-19 19:35:24

Interesting! Thanks all, seems we may widen our school search.... wink

lululup Wed 25-Sep-19 19:58:53

Homework on what? Your point isn't clear to me.

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