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Bursaries for private schools-any real chance???

(57 Posts)
vvhopeful Mon 29-Oct-12 14:22:25

We have applied for a bursary for dd1 (we need 100%) for an independant secondary school.

The 2 state schools we have applied for are very very big and crowded and dd has health issues which reduce her mobility, cause pain issues, tiredness and other symptoms made worse by over-exertion etc. At a large school she will struggle, be tired etc and not reach her full potential.The much smaller independant school would be perfect and offer just the right balance for her, a small site so not too much walking etc which will enable her to pace herself better and avoid flare ups of her conditions.
It is also nearer to where we live and as i do not drive it will mean I can get to her quickly if she is unwell (and she wont have to travel far to get there every day as she is especially tired in mornings).

dd is a very clever girl, on the gifted and talented list and doing really well.Somebody mentioned to me though that she 'doesn't have a chance' as she is not being tutored-we really cannot afford a tutor, dd has just been doing the bond workbooks but now I am worried this will not be enough.I dont want to get dds hopes up for the private school if she really has no chance.

Have I done the wrong thing even considering this for her? I was just so worried about the prospect of her struggling physically at a large school and then being too tired/unwell to keep up with her work whereas at the smaller school she could really do so well which I feel is even more important given that her life is not going to be easy and having a good education could make all the difference.

Are many 100% bursaries given? Does she have any chance?

scarevola Mon 29-Oct-12 14:32:21

Firstly, scholarships and bursaries are not synonymous. Scholarships are for fixed amounts, and are not means tested.

Bursaries are not dependent on winning a scholarship (but that helps, obviously), they are means tested and renewed annually, the amount is at the school's discretion; and how income is assessed and what level of award can be offered varies enormously between schools (and within a school, between years, depending on how many others are already receiving support).

You will have to ask the school you are considering about its bursaries, and worth asking explicitly what is the highest %age award they can offer. Bear in mind that this will be only illustrative at this stage (maybe they can afford 1 x 100% award, but usually give 2x 30% and 2x20%).

Bursaries will be offered to those applicants who the school, believes will most benefit from what the school offers. This might be a specific attainment in an area in which the school, excels, or demonstrable potential, or lovely all-rounder that every teacher wants in their class.

Have you yet been round the school? What sort of place does it feel like?

LIZS Mon 29-Oct-12 14:38:49

You'd have to have a serious conversation with the bursar. It isn't all about academic results but you would be expected to have explored every financial avenue, declare all your income and assets each year and forgo holidays, cars etc. There will be a finite pot of money each year and the school may have a policy of assisting more pupils to a lesser degree or fewer with more,but you won't know unless you ask.

vvhopeful Mon 29-Oct-12 14:40:06

I have been to the school to see the headteacher and dd1 went to the open day and LOVED it, one of the first things she said was "I can't believe it- I walked round the WHOLE school and didnt feel unwell" (it is tiny). It is an absolutely lovely school.

Apparently they offer bursaries of between 50-100% they said the amount of bursaries they award changes every year but that it is rare for a 100% bursary to be awarded.

We have sent in all our forms for the means testing but will not know what we could be awarded untill offer stage.

I just suddenly feel like I have got our hopes up and that it could all go wrong. The other mum that I spoke to was very sure that dd1 will not have any chance as tutoring is the only way as they are taught how to do well in the tests. Even if I went without myself we couldn't afford a tutor.

vvhopeful Mon 29-Oct-12 14:43:18

Sorry I meant to clarify that based on our circumstances we could get betwen 50-100 % depending on how well dd does in the exams and interview but we will not know till they make (if they make) an offer

LIZS Mon 29-Oct-12 14:56:04

You won't know unless she gets a place on merit

vvhopeful Mon 29-Oct-12 15:01:14

Is it likely without tutoring to get a place?

LIZS Mon 29-Oct-12 15:05:34

Hard to say, have you asked for practice papers? What do they test and is she used to writing to time ? Is there a junior/prep school feeding the senior or open competition at 11+. dd's entry last year there were at least 3 applicants for every place and half came form the prep school. so for external candidates it was nearer 5 applicants per place. Depends on the school really.

Floralnomad Mon 29-Oct-12 15:07:51

I wouldn't get too stressed about it . My DD has health issues and dropped out of school due to the issues in year 8 , the school were extremely helpful and now she is under the health needs for education service , she is now thriving . It's obviously not ideal but she is getting a decent education .

vvhopeful Mon 29-Oct-12 15:16:24

They test english, maths and verbal reasoning. We have got the bond books for all 3 and have printed off the previous years tests for dd to do under timed conditions. Girls already there compete for scholarships along with other applicants.

I think a lot also depends on how many people apply for the bursaries each year and obviously I have no idea how many there are. All I can do is kep my fingers crossed.

3nationsfamily Mon 29-Oct-12 15:22:26

Do bear in mind that bursaries generally do not cover the extras involved in independent education e.g. uniform, sports kit, music lessons, school meals, school trips (often abroad) and also books etc as everything has to be paid for! So you need to factor that in to the affordability as well as any bursary support. Many schools also require an up front deposit to secure the place of £100-£800 which may not be covered by the bursary scheme and which is held against extras and repaid when they leave the school at 18. The general wisdom is to budget about 10% on top of the full fees per year.

LIZS Mon 29-Oct-12 15:22:56

but have those girls pretty much got guaranteed places ? If so that is fewer for external candidates and statistically lessens your dd's chances of getting a place at all let alone with a bursary. Will she get access arrangements (extra time ,breaks and so on) for her condition ? Forget scholarships for now, those are going to be difficult to get without tutoring. Have you also applied elsewhere as a backup ?

vvhopeful Mon 29-Oct-12 15:29:31

Only the 100% bursary includes uniform and trips so if we didn't get that I dont think dd1 would be able to go as our finances just couldn't stretch to paying for the extras.

To get the 100% bursary she would have to do exceptionally well in the tests and interview and although she is clever I dont think she can compete with the other applicants as I hadnt realised how important the tutoring was- all her friends are having extra lessons every weekend and after school. She sits and does her workbooks every day after her homework but its not the same as I expect tutoring is tailored to passing the tests sad

I just want the best for her and for her to fulfil her potential. Now that she has seen all 3 schools though and was unwell after the tours for the 2 large schools (too much walking/steps etc) I think she has her heart set on the private school.

vvhopeful Mon 29-Oct-12 15:33:19

I did not ask for her to have extra time as her conditions are usually affected by walking,steps/stairs, over exertion etc so i thought she would be ok sitting doing an exam. Sometimes she has dizzy spells/faints but again usually after over exertion or getting up too quick.

We have applied for the 2 nearest state schools as well. there are other private schools in the area but they too are bigger and quite far (she cannot travel too far and I do not drive).

basildonbond Mon 29-Oct-12 15:44:11

If she's exceptionally bright then she wouldn't need tutoring, especially if she's coming from a state primary as most independent schools are looking for potential, not just achievement, and would be expecting a higher standard from the prep school pupils.

I think your friend is mistaken. Tutoring can nudge an average child's achievement up a bit and give them practice of doing timed tests but to be honest you can do all that yourself at home.

However if your dd is not exceptionally bright and doesn't have anything else to 'offer' the school i.e. sporting ability, musical ability etc then I suspect getting 100% bursary is unlikely, regardless of how many practice papers she's been doing - and regardless of whether or not she'd been tutored.

Personally I think it's unwise to show a child a school if it's not a genuine possibility - and if you can only send her there with 100% bursary then it is really a pipe dream. Much better to be talking up her realistic options with her and working with your current school to get her a good transition plan for secondary. By all means let her take the independent school test as well but don't get her hopes up too much.

LIZS Mon 29-Oct-12 15:53:07

Does she have a statement ? If so you could ask that she needs timetabling to avoid unnecessary walking, stairs etc in larger school environment

vvhopeful Mon 29-Oct-12 16:01:02

no statement, we are in the very difficult position where she is considered unwell but not unwell enough for extra help/statementing. She has a lot of input from local physio, genetic dept etc and GOSH for other issues so things are managed to an extent she just has to pace herself and be v careful to not overdo things.

I did feel awkward taking her to the private school open day in case she doesnt get in but the headteacher has said when I met with hert that we should bring dd along and I wanted to show willing as I really want her to go there.It was also good to see how she managed walking round the school.

dd is very bright especially at english and is very talented at art. no other abilities not good at sport due to physical issues and doesnt play an instrument although she loves singing and had the main part in xmas production last year.

Floralnomad Mon 29-Oct-12 16:34:24

LIZS - you don't need a statement to get help in state schools for children with health issues , my DD has never had a statement . Most schools are very accommodating but the one thing we found they couldn't help with was the actual getting around the school , my DD had short days etc before finally being referred to the HNFE service .

LucyLight Mon 29-Oct-12 16:50:11

There is hope!
She may get in and it will help her if you are being positive about it. My dd has recently got into a v good state school via exam. (It is a a highly competitive faith school where 12 places are given through academic achievement). She had no tutoring other than what we did together at home and did some Bond practice papers, she is also on the gifted and talented register.
Your daughter may do it - just keep positive and if she doesn't get in you can cross that bridge when you get to it. It seems like there are lots of people who can give you advice on here.

vvhopeful Mon 29-Oct-12 16:53:08

thankyou lucylight

vampirestakeknickers Mon 29-Oct-12 17:13:08

Schools tend to be well aware of the tutoring effect, and will take it into account when assessing test results.

It really is in the luck of the draw and who else is applying for a share of this year's pot. I don't envy the committee who will have to decide.

Good luck

derekthehamster Mon 29-Oct-12 17:23:57

My son got into a selective school with no tutoring, I think that the school gives 100% burseries to families with an income under 9k

lisad123 Mon 29-Oct-12 17:28:35

We have a bursary for dd1, she is very bright and lovely but the school we applied to doesn't have scholarship.
It's not all on the best minds, but personality and whether they like you too.
Don't give up yet

middleclassonbursary Tue 30-Oct-12 07:23:44

OP what does the school website say? Some make it very clear that bursaries are available only to those who win scholarships, others clearly state that bursaries are available to all whose financial circumstances meet the criteria, some will tell you how many bursaries are available many are ambiguous. In my experience many schools make grandiose claims but the reality is fail to live up to them. The ones that do deliver especially large bursaries usually have their committment to bursaries written very clearly on their website and often on their home/about us page although even those who slap promising comments on their home page dont always deliver.
When you met the head were you quite clear to her that you would have to have a 100% bursary? Heads ultimately don't control finances but you said its a small school and they do know appproximately much money is in the bursary pot so hopefully she should have some idea about current bursaries and may even know who else is applying in particular existing pupils. I would like to think that no head would encourage your DD to look round the school, sit the exam, apply for a 100% bursary knowing you hadn't got a cats hope in hell of getting one because they either don't have sufficient money for bursaries of that size or its already been earmarked for another child. Secondly did you explain on you bursary application form about you DD's illness detailing all the things you listed above? I would have thought that this could influence their decision from the schools point of veiw it feels good to offer a generous bursary to an ill child.
Applying for bursaries is always fraught. No one wants to raise a child's hopes by showing them a school putting them through an exam only too find that the much hoped for bursary is not available. But there is no other way only a few schools make provisional offers before you start the application process. Therefore assuming you have been completely honest with your daughter then hopefully she will understand that nothing is guaranteed if she doesn't get it then obviously she will be disappointed this happened to one of my DC's but we did find a viable alternative my DC learnt that disappointment is part of life and that we have to learn to move on and make the best of what we can have.
Good luck keep us all informed of how you get on.

vvhopeful Tue 30-Oct-12 07:44:48

It does say on the website that bursaries are awarded on academic merit and financial circumstances so dd wouldnt have to get a scholarship as well, just do well in the exams.

I explained everything to the head when I met with her, I went because I needed to have a tour of the school to see was it suitable for dd and to get a feeling as to whether they would be ok with her problems if she were to go there. I t was the head who told me the 100%bursary covers uniform and trips etc.
She advised me to research if there were any charities who would fund a gifted but unwell child through private education which I did but couldnt find any.

our means testing has been done (had to send in loads of paperwork) all I can do now is hope exams/interview go well.

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