independent schools(73 Posts)
When do you start the process of applying for a scholarship and/or bursary at independent schools for Y7/senior school entry?
It's a very long way off for my DS but I want to plan ahead, especially if I feel he made need a tutor or extra support in order to pass the entrance exams. I live in a rural county and the secondary schools nearby do not have a lot to offer IMO and two do not even offer sixth form. I know a lot can change in the coming years but I have always had a preference for independent education for my children.
Are scholarships usually 100% of the fees and exactly how much am 'I' expected to contribute for a bursary?
The trend is for scholarships to be less valuable, and funds for awards to be used for bursaries instead. Some scholarships have no cash value at all (and are awarded as an academic honour only). You need to check with your candidate schools what the value of their awards are.
The size of a bursary depends on your means. It is worth asking the school early in what size awards they have actually made in the last 5 years or so. They may say 'up to 90%' or whatever, but if their actual pattern is to make 3x 30% awards, it's worth knowing this.
Start by finding out about individual schools. And the developing philosophy around fee assistance. No, scholarships are not usually 100% of fees and bursaries are means tested so will depend on an individual school's assessment of your income and assets (and how much they want your child).
Pick a dozen independent schools (not just one or two nearby) and study their websites/prospectuses thoroughly - especially the admissions information. By the time you've done that you will have a much clearer idea of how it all works and what you feel most comfortable with. Every school's approach and process will be different to the next one.
Very often now schools provide very specific guidelines for bursaries DD's schools has extensive guidelines for example where possible both parents must work, where ever possible capital must be released (ie. Home ownership can be an exclusion), school will look at the car you drive and the holidays you take. Bursaries as usually reviewed annually.
As others have said scholarships are moving to be being Honorary and no having any financial value. Be aware that if you tutor for scholarships they are often under annual review and if the child is failing to meet the required standards the scholarships can be removed. It is also possible for a change in staff to change criteria eg. DD's school have had new head of sport and scholarships have been removed from those who are not at county or national standard.
I'm not saying any of this to put you off, but to make sure you go in with your eyes wide open.
You can sometimes get a scholarship which is topped up with a bursary. All schools have different criteria, and different levels of scholarships and bursaries.
I have only one DD so no experience of getting scholarships or bursaries but if I had my time again and know as much as I do now I would have aimed for a music scholarship for DD.
If your child is naturally musical you need them to learn two instruments and get one of those up to Grade 5 minimum, probably Grade 6. One of those instruments should be an unusual one because school orchestras are always seeking those who can play instruments like the oboe, trombone, harp or something similar.
If he is sporty then sign him up for the local cricket club, rugby club and check out which particular sports the schools you are looking at compete in.
Obviously if he is academic he may get an academic scholarship.
All scholarships and bursaries are reviewed annually and your child will need to prove his commitment by representing his school in sports matches, quizzes, orchestra, or other areas. DD has a number of academic scholars in her class and she says they are all very clever, and certainly they are all over the place representing the school in regional competitions. Another boy with a sports scholarship is in all the teams and also representing his school.
Check with the schools about the 11+ pass marks. In some rural areas it is not terribly competitive so he may or may not need a tutor.
Scholarships are increasingly worth only a token amount of £, often more for the prestige and opportunities such as reduced music tuition, sports performance training, although obligations are attached too. If you need a bursary you need to be very clear that you understand the criteria and that in any one year funds may be spread among more children and therefore lesser in value. Regardless he'd need to do well in entrance tests to be in with a chance of either.
I gather that, increasingly, reaching roughly scholarship level in entrance exams is the gateway to bursary access. (But this is not invariably the case.)
To answer your original question of "when" OP - once you've checked out a million websites and narrowed your criteria right down you may then want to follow the advice of the handful of schools that look "right" and register with them.
It varies from school to school whether this is equivalent to "putting your name down" - certainly where you're looking for a bursary there is likely to be an established entrance exam procedure - but it will mean that they'll keep you up to date with exactly what needs to be done when. (And actually, after a few years of absorbing reading here, I've reached the conclusion that it's a false economy not to spend the money on timely registration. So many times I've seen the parents of clever children wailing at the potential loss of extraordinary opportunities because they found out too late ...)
Also, it needs saying - keep up with developments in your possible state schools. Things seem to be changing all the time and if you insist on paying fees you need to be sure that that school really is better than the state alternatives. It's not a given.
If a child needs tuition just to pass the entrance exam, then a bursary may be difficult to attain because usually they go to children who are academically bright and talented whose parents would not normally be able to afford the fees. They are increasingly "competitive" because if they were not, everyone would qualify if they fancy private education for no cost. The schools have to judge who is the most deserving. Usually high intelligence leads to a bigger bursary and it is often near scholarship standard.
Often scholarships are a small to medium reduction in fees. Anything from 5% to 30%. Bursaries are means tested and can go up to 100% of fees, but you still have to find the cost of uniform, school meals and all extra curricular not covered in school fees.
Imo, you can't start too early . Get prospectuses for local schools. Get on forums and discuss them. Visit them on open days. If they do taster days or summer schools for local state school children, send your DC along to them.
meanwhile, best help you can give in early stages is to read to DC every day and chat bout what you read (comprehension, vocab etc.) I used to stop after a difficult paragraph and ask what they thought it meant. they were so often completely wrong but by doing it often they got better quickly. Make sure times tables are rock solid up to 15 or 20x all numbers up to 25.
Check what exams are required at your chosen schools and get the early stage VR and NVR books. For younger years they are really good fun puzzle books. DC used to ask to do them. They're not a chore at all.
Play games like Bananagrams, Scrabble, Hangman, Bookworm etc with them to develop spelling and vocab.
Get them to do mental arithmetic with money, sweets etc.
bojorojo, tuition to pass entrance exams is often simply to familiarise state school pupils with the kind of techniques that prep school pupils are taught as matter of course. It's no indication the child is not bright enough to pass unaided and not scholarship material; it fills a gap in the learning provided. Both my DC were tutored as they went to a rather unacademic state primary. Both were offered scholarships and have gone on to perform very well at a very academic school.
Thank you all for the replies! All very useful information.
I hope that scholarships are not just token gestures these days. A friend of mine said that a colleague of hers managed to get scholarships for several of her children and I assumed they were full ones.
We could contribute some of the fees. How much would depend on our circumstances at the time but we do have 2 children and BOTH would attend. I cannot send one without the other.
But, what salary band should I need to be in to qualify for a reduction of up to 50%? I understand this can be an odd question and experiences of those with bursaries would give me an idea as to whether my expectations are realistic or not!
I have 2 possible co-ed independent schools which have either transport links from my village or we can transport our children to due to DH's work placed within a mile of the school. The other 3 independent schools are a good 45 minute drive away in opposite directions and as far as I am aware, do not offer transport from my village or any towns nearby. So that rules those out.
When should I register an interest and do they keep prospective parents informed as to what is happening when? Do I mention that we are looking for a scholarship and/or bursary or are these offered based upon academic success in the tests?
Yes, get in touch with admissions staff. Ask for prospectuses first and then email to say you'd like to register interest and apply for your child to sit their exams. be direct and say you'd be looking at applying for a bursary and could you meet with the bursar/admissions to discuss what bursaries may be available in your salary band. Bear in mind they will be reassessed every year. And children on bursaries are expected to bring honour to the school via exam results and other high flying achievements, so there is a little extra pressure on them.
Having a small pool of feasible schools makes it a bit easier as there is less research for you to do. If you look on the school's website in/around the fees section, you should be able to find quite a bit of information about the scholarships on offer (both amount offered & whether they are academic, music, sport etc) and the bursary criteria. This may narrow down your choices if the scholarship is an honorary amount & you don't fulfil the bursary criteria.
And ^definite6 go for the school on public transport systems. As they get older, DC do all sorts of after school activities and one is often arriving home just as the other is heading back out to school for an evening event. You don't want to be a frazzled taxi service or for them to spend their lives waiting for each other at the end of long school days. It gives them independence if they can get there via bus or train.
You need to go to an open day and meet the bursar, probably starting in y4. Some will require registration in y5, others early y6 depending on their admissions timetable and test/interview schedules.
However I fear you may be disappointed. One school near us offers exceptional scholarships up to 30% but most are fixed at around 1k, with fees of 15k. They have recently done a deal with a HA to fund a specific number of places for their tenants. Bursary income cut off is maximum 65k gross income(more generous than most) on a sliding scale, but in practice only those below 25k might be offered 100%, and they take assets into account so expect thorough scrutiny of your finances. Any award might be subject to annual review too.
Dds' school gives bursaries to families with combined incomes up to around £105k pa, DS's school goes a bit higher. This year both schools have about 12% of students in the incoming year receiving bursary assistance. The assistance covers trips, sports kit etc & all letters about trips say if you need financial help for a trip please ask. Another school locally even helps fund dinner suits/evening dresses for the prom so bursary students aren't disadvantaged. These are all London day schools.
You need to speak to the school, it's all so variable. We have two close friends on 100% bursaries at two of the major public schools. They are in full time work, I don't know what they earn.
Both include uniform, travel and trips that the school considers educationally important.
One of them has an account at the local sports shop and he is allowed to put sports equipment in there (sports scholar topped up by bursary).
He also gets physio paid for.
My sister has managed to get all four of her children privately educated in London on full bursaries as they are clergy.
Eastpoint you give me hope, although I appreciate that everyone else is being realistic and honest too!
I live in the North of England and our joint income is above £65k but under £105k. VERY comfortable by many standards but our circumstances do not reflect this at this moment in time.
DH is full time and I am part time but by the time DS is sue to start secondary education, I hope to be back in full time employment by then and our financial situation may have improved to allow us to pay at least half the fees. We are looking at currently about £15k per year for secondary education.
30% scholarship for dd - sports scholarship (better than a slap in the face with a wet kipper)
hmcAsWas thank you so much for that. 30% certainly is better than a slap in the face with a wet kipper.
If you don't mind me asking, what sport was this and how did it become a scholarship; i.e. did she compete in sports in clubs outside of school or was this purely a skill and talent that has been acquired from primary school?
DS, although young, is showing an aptitude for swimming.
Brutal honesty at that income level you are highly unlikely to get a bursary. Your income level is very similar to a large number of parents paying full fees here in the South East.
The schools usually put if the scholarships have value on their websites. The will also put all the scholarship criteria too. As I said earlier DD's schools sports requirement is minimum county, but preference is national.
OP You need to go back over your thread and read with close attention. I think all your questions have been answered!
Every school applies different criteria - which may change from year to year - so no one here can tell you exactly what any school might or might not offer you by way of bursary help. Nor would the experience of someone you know at the same school provide any real guide. But you do need to be aware that schools with well established bursary funds can pick and choose. And that bursaries are intended to help relatively "exceptional" children whose attendance would be impossible without some level of fee reduction. Not to prop up the standard of living that a family has decided they wish to maintain.
If, when the time comes, there is any flexibility in your financial situation - you would be expected to utilise that flexibility and make what sacrifices are necessary to pay the fees. So I would be wary of making assumptions about what you might demand from a school.
In addition to what's already been said, I've never heard of a school that will calculate a bursary for the first child, based on the fact you'd be expecting to have enough spare income to contribute the same towards a younger childs fees in the future. It's the other way round, they'll consider your means to contribute to two lots of fees if and when the second child is awarded a bursary.
Ime they do look at your outgoings, rather than just your income and assets, but they are quite rightly relatively strict about what is reasonable.
You do need to check with individual schools, most will give ball park figures for where their sliding scales start and end. However if you're already over 65k pt, with school fees only 15k, I think it's highly unlikely you'd only be expected to contribute 7.5k/50%. As well as researching schools, I think it would be wise to start saving and consider how you could budget for fees.
I do agree that dc aiming for scholarships and bursaries shouldn't need tutoring just to pass the exam. 10 minutes familiarisation with nvr/vr if they haven't seen it before should be ample to simply pass for dc of that nature. I can see why people might tutor to give them the edge against other bursary/ scholarship entrants though. Personally I didn't, because I thought if dd didn't get one after putting loads of work in, it would be even more disappointing. And when dd had her interview, the questions she was given seemed very much designed to establish whether her exam results were those of a bright dc inflated with tutoring, or whether she was genuinely more able than other bursary/scholarship applicants. However I appreciate that's just my experience, and not necessarily right for every school or every dc.
Both our DC were offered scholarships - one for 20% of fees, the other for 10% - one an academic scholarship and the other an art scholarship.
Sorry - that was only half a post - meant to say the art scholarship included DS building up a big portfolio of work which he'd done at extra curricular art classes over the years, plus winning a couple of county level arts awards.
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