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financial assistance with private schools in Scotland

(24 Posts)
jennnnnnnnnn Thu 18-Jun-15 09:21:46


My kids are young and in early primary school just now. When buying our house 6 years ago I never gave secondary schools a single thought.....

However, now I see the schools where we are appear to be rubbish. My kids are bright and I don't really want to send them to the schools in this area as the score very low in the league tables etc.

I have looked at moving to the areas with better schools but the houses cost a fortune and out of our budget.

Can anyone explain the bursaries that private schools offer and what the criteria etc is? Our combined wage is about 45k. I suspect this will be too high but in no way on earth could we afford 20k a year for 2 kids at private school and pay bills and food etc.

Am I just stuck with sending them to the never ending cycle of mediocrity in this area?

Is it an advantage for kids who's parents dont work and are on benefits as they can then apply for bursary to private school education?

Is there any places in scotland where they can be assessed and get free places based on academic ability / potential ?



3nationsfamily Thu 18-Jun-15 10:40:13

All of the private schools operate means tested bursaries now rather than scholarships as this is required under the Charity commission rules. Not working and claiming benefits does not entitle you to bursary unless there is a medical reason you can't work- indeed for most there needs to be evidence that both parents are working if possible. They also take into consideration any equity in your property as you would be expected to realise this by remortgage or sale before any bursary award.

You can apply for an out of catchment place for another state secondary school in most local authorities in Scotland but obviously this puts pressure on popular schools and strict priority rules are applied.

Superexcited Thu 18-Jun-15 12:31:45

You need to find out what the cut off limit is for bursary assistance as this varies from school to school. Also bear in mind that your child will probably have to do exceptionally well to be eligible for a significant bursary as applications always exceed the funds available.
Looking at the bursary policies of the schools near me: full fees are £11k pa for senior day school and the income cut off is between £40k and £52k but it operates on a sliding scale so even the more generous schools would only offer a small bursary if your income is £45k but they might offer significantly more for the second child than they will for the first child (assuming that the 2nd child scores well enough in the entrance exams).

PettsWoodParadise Thu 18-Jun-15 12:49:13

I sympathise. In our area due to grammar system there are great schools but if child doesn't get in then the other schools are a mixed bunch. Some are great but to guarantee catchment people move half mile up the road to guarantee a place - a sort of madness.

Careful though as some independents can be quite mediocre too.

Saying that we are looking at Independents too, one has fees of £17k a year, another £19.5k. A bursary application has been submitted to our top choice but we have no clue what their criteria is other than no realisable assets and below £40k income you'd get 100% bursary if they did exceptionally well in the entrance test, interview etc. we could possibly stretch to paying all in advance by taking out a second mortgage of £150k as the more expensive school have this type of scheme allowing advance payment in a lump sum but for a host of reasons including flexibility I am nervous about that route. I also don't know if we'd qualify as I haven't talked to our bank or a broker. We also have just the one child so not thinking of doing it for two - although the fees here seem nearly like I would be paying for two!

I was also asked as part of the bursary application to confirm I'd explored other methods of funding. It turns out there are charities that help but usually criteria are about being part of a specific community, having a specific talent or having a certain need - none of which our DD qualified for. I generally googled and also looked on the Charity Commission website as well as getting pointers from a very helpful bursar at the school.

Good luck!

jennnnnnnnnn Thu 18-Jun-15 13:36:46

Thanks for the replies.

I'm so annoyed at myself not thinking about this when we moved. I just liked the area and the house was very reasonable price. I suppose this is one reason why it was cheap to move here....

I've looked up a few private schools and not really clear what the criteria is. Some say "up to ten pupils per year on bursaries of various levels." Hmmm not much chance then!

Looks like our choice is going to be a 2 bed flat in east renfrewshire or keep our 3 bed semi and go to a rotten school !!!

No bursaries anyway until primary 5 at the earliest so a few years yet.

That also raises a problem though, do I save up as much as I can over next few years to try buy a house in better area but in doing so effectively rule myself out of private school bursary due to having savings??

I wish I didn't bother about this stuff and could just send them to the local school without worrying about it being rubbish!!!

Tanaqui Thu 18-Jun-15 13:44:31

Does Scotland have school governors? Could you become one and change your local school?

Pumpeedo Thu 18-Jun-15 13:45:44

£45k is nothing for a combined income at these schools. You can lower it further with salary sacrifice contributions. If your DCs are bright then they'll bite your hands off to get them in, particularly if they're well behaved. Start visiting these schools and, for the ones you like, ask for a meeting with the bursar. Tell him or her you will need a bursary and ask if you can complete a form to get an idea of how much support they could offer you. Just remember though that the uniform and sports kit will be expensive (although true toffs think nothing of using the school thrift shop and Sports Direct is fab for generic sports stuff) and possibly extra curricular stuff will be quite expensive.

If your DCs are bright, musical or sporty then enter them for a scholarship. That can then be topped up with a bursary.

jennnnnnnnnn Thu 18-Jun-15 14:32:01

Hi tanaqui. I have no idea about school governors. But I work full time so I'm not sure I would be any use for that....

Thanks pumpee I will try contacting the schools direct. I have been a bit afraid to do that as I am worried I sound like a chancer looking for cheap schooling! (Which I am!). Nothing to lose I suppose and then if they say I have no hope then I can just start on a new plan to relocate.

cumsanctuspiritu Thu 18-Jun-15 20:49:41

I went to a private school in Glasgow in the 80s. I had a bursary, and support from a charity (Scottish Educational Trust, I think it was called). The bursary was means-tested and very closely matched the way the university grant (remember those?) was worked out, in that with both my parents ended up providing about £400pa (the fees were about £3k per year back then, as was the grant I think) - this was roughly equivalent to the cost of a fortnight's package holiday in Spain, and my parent's combined earnings were around the £20K level - I would say by their job types that they'd be about £40-45K equivalent now. The charity funding came about after I got the bursary, and my parent's said to the school that we preferred it to the other cheaper school I'd got into, but couldn't afford it... I think the school must have arranged it/facilitated it. Not sure.

Possibly outing myself a bit much here, but I went back to visit the school last week for the first time since I left (the Rector's retiring), and it was amazingly resourced. Almost too well resourced, but I'm struggling to explain this even to my dh. I'm very grateful to live in a part of the country (not Scotland) that still has Grammar schools that are very much like my school of the 80s (it was ex-Grammar gone private - and that tells you which school!). Loved my time there.

AmazingDisgrace Thu 18-Jun-15 22:56:08

hmm At the benefits bashing little comment in the OP.

jennnnnnnnnn Fri 19-Jun-15 13:29:58

Where is the benefit bashing comment?

ttlshiwwya Fri 19-Jun-15 13:36:09

"Is it an advantage for kids who's parents dont work and are on benefits as they can then apply for bursary to private school education?"

I agree with AmazingDisgrace.

jennnnnnnnnn Fri 19-Jun-15 13:48:45


1st of all it's a question not a comment. 2nd what is bashing about it????

AmazingDisgrace Fri 19-Jun-15 22:00:45

Between you and your DH you have a fairly decent income yet wonder if children from families on benefits have an advantage with getting financial assistance accessing private education. Leaving aside the fact that even with a 100% bursary (rare) the other associated costs of such schools would put off families on benefits or low incomes from even applying can you not see how your comment comes across?

Superexcited Fri 19-Jun-15 22:09:29

We get a full (100% bursary) for our DS at a highly regarded independent school. The associated costs are not much more than they would be at a state school and we even get assistance with the cost of school transport. We don't get free school meals but families on very low incomes at the school get free school meals (the threshold has been set as the same as it would be at a state school). I agree that OPs benefit claimants comment was clumsy but it is factual that those families on lower incomes or benefits can get significant bursaries whilst those on middle incomes rarely qualify for significant assistance.
The school my child is at has over 20% on significant bursaries and quite a few on 100% bursaries so the costs of extras don't put everyone off.

AmazingDisgrace Fri 19-Jun-15 22:12:27

I don't live in Scotland anymore so can't say if this is quite a normal thing there these days Superexcited but it certainly wasn't when I did. Where I live now 100% bursaries are rarer than hen's teeth

Superexcited Fri 19-Jun-15 22:18:54

It is a good thing that independent schools offer most of their funding to low income families because we need to encourage social mobility and encourage children from low income families to aspire to attend the same places as children from wealthier families but I can see how middle income families who cannot afford private education will be annoyed that those on lower incomes can access these schools. OP: It is worth remembering though that the children on significant bursaries usually have to score very very well on entrance exams to get a bursary place so the playing field is not equal for them at entrance stage. As research consistently shows that average ability children benefit academically from having very able children in their classroom those poorer children are very valuable to the private schools.
The charities commission would also be unimpressed if bursaries were not targeted at the poorest children.
Poor but bright children are very valuable to private schools.

Superexcited Fri 19-Jun-15 22:22:05

I'm in England amazinggrace, my DS was offered 100% bursaries at 2 independents and 90% at another. We went for the most highly regarded and sought after school which fitted DS the best.
100% bursaries are available at quite a few schools that I know of (all day schools). Maybe it is different in Scotland.

AmazingDisgrace Fri 19-Jun-15 22:24:38

That's not my name wink

Superexcited Fri 19-Jun-15 22:29:13

Apologies - anazingdisgrace.

Superexcited Fri 19-Jun-15 22:30:18

Another typo- clearly I would not have made the required grade for any bursary.

AngelinaCongleton Fri 19-Jun-15 22:30:51

placing request is your easiest option probably

dotdotdotmustdash Mon 22-Jun-15 23:35:21

I work as a PSA (support assistant) in a 'challenging' High School in Scotland, and my own DD attends another in the area which is huge and has it's own problems. What I would say is that it is more than possible for a clever child to do well in a poor school. It's not necessarily the teaching that's poor, more that the children coming to the school have more than their fair share of social problems.

From what I've seen working in several schools over the last few years, these schools love to have clever kids and the teachers will bend over backwards to see them succeed and rise above their peers. The school I work in has a small group of seniors, but they do give them as many experiences as they can and some go on to do very well indeed. My Ds has just left school and is waiting to start his dream Uni course in September, and my Dd is looking at top courses at Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews for next year. Their school experience has been very positive.

Check out the local schools themselves, not just their results or what you see from the outside. Ask to talk to some of their seniors and quiz them about school life and talk to some of the management, and if possible, the department heads. Sometimes what looks like a poor set of results is actually a glittering success given the issues they've had to face.

jennnnnnnnnn Thu 25-Jun-15 16:05:55

Hi dotdash.

Thanks for the reply. Yes I'm sure you're right. I just think if we can reduce the number of Wildcats they might encounter on a daily basis then it gives them a better chance in life.

I was a super genius (not quite but pretty clever!) through primary school but then went to a high school of lunatics spraying teachers with fire extinguishers and such likes. I still got a few highers and got a uni degree etc but I do always think "what if I had the chance to go to a half decent school?".

It's no guarantee of anything I know.

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