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Assisted places at private school

(84 Posts)
BrieAndChilli Sun 03-Jan-16 09:05:21

DS1 is in year 4 so were are starting to think about secondary school. He currently attends the best primary school in the county (state) it is a small village school and they have been brilliant with him.
He is very acedemically able. He started reception with a reading age of 14 years as an example.
Our 2 local secondary schools unfortunately aren't more than barely average, and as we are in Wales there are no grammar schools/11+ etc so that's not an option either.
A local private school that has very good results offers assisted places and bursaries - to be honest we couldn't afford to pay more than a token amount, would it be worth trying to get a 100% assisted place or do such things not exist? Is it worth approaching the school or will they just laugh us off the premises??

catslife Sun 03-Jan-16 10:09:23

Each school has a different policy about bursaries and scholarships. It is possible that an able child may be awarded both a scholarship (tested according to ability) and a bursary but it is very rare for this to be 100%. Most schools would expect parents to pay something towards the fees.
Am not sure about Wales but in England the "assisted" places scheme was discontinued years ago.
You need to check this with the school (or name it as someone may know).
Also check how the state schools support high ability pupils. Some schools with average results still support high ability pupils well.

Molio Sun 03-Jan-16 10:11:54

The best schools are very thorough with examining finances, quite rightly. They require both parents to work except for in exceptional circumstances, they look at all capital assets as well as the equity that can be released in the primary home. They also look at the finances of both parents in the case of separation or divorce, not merely the resident parent. Less good schools may not be so thorough but are also likely to be far less well endowed, so won't have anything like the same amount to distribute.

HanSolo Sun 03-Jan-16 10:14:49


Gruach Sun 03-Jan-16 10:15:57

The wealthier and more well established the school the more likely it is that they maintain an extensive and generous bursary system.

It is much easier and more common for the "big name" schools to offer bursaries that cover the entire fee.

So ... it's a question of whether you are only prepared to consider this one school - and accept whatever they can offer - or if you're ready to search further afield.

No decent school would laugh at a parent in your circumstances. The best actively encourage less wealthy families with bright/talented children to apply regardless of income.

LIZS Sun 03-Jan-16 10:16:06

Assisted places was a government backed scheme which was abolished in 80s. You are looking for a bursary but for 100% the income level is often very low. Each school varies though so you need to meet the school bursar and ask what the level of income would be and how many 100% awards they make each intake. Sometimes they prefer to spread the pot thinner ie. 4 places @ 25% so that the number of beneficiaries is higher. Also ask what is covered and what is not. Uniform, extra curricular and trips can add considerably to the cost.

AnotherNewt Sun 03-Jan-16 10:18:08

The 'assisted place scheme' (which I suspect you might be thinking of, given your terminology) was abolished in 1997.

Each independent school will, if it wants to, offer scholarships (non-means tested awards for excellence in a particular field or all-rounder; can be large, small, or purely titular) and bursaries (means tested awards to those who could not afford to attend otherwise). In some schools you have to be scholarship level to be considered for a bursary; in others not.

How large bursaries can be depends on the school, how many are already in receipt of assistance and how healthy the underpinning fund. They go up to over 100% (though most don't).

You're going to have to ask. No use in getting your hopes up for a school where you'd need 75% fee reduction is the maximum they've ever awarded in their whole history is 50%.

You won't be laughed off the premises. Or at least not by any school that is worth going to. They get these sorts of enquiries all the time. Bursary applications should be handled competently and in confidence.

IguanaTail Sun 03-Jan-16 10:18:24

A 4 year old with the reading age of a 14 year old?

Luna9 Sun 03-Jan-16 10:18:56

You lose nothing with trying

BertrandRussell Sun 03-Jan-16 10:18:58

But don't dismiss the state option without further investigation. Have a look at the results their high achievers get, for example.

HanSolo Sun 03-Jan-16 10:28:46

Sorry, I didn't mean to smile there, my phone crashed.

I was going to ask if you were tied to the area you're in, or whether you could move for schools?

Some schools charge their fees on a sliding scale according to income. However, if you have assets such as property or large pension funds, they will take these into account when they decide how much you can afford to pay. I have been surprised at how much one can earn whilst still qualifying for a bursary though.

HanSolo Sun 03-Jan-16 10:29:40

Iguana- it's unusual, yes, but hardly unheard of on mumsnet.

HanSolo Sun 03-Jan-16 10:31:11

Oh, and the schools I'm talking about also offer assistance with uniform, trips, equipment etc if need is demonstrated. (sorry- I know it sounds rather victorian, but they're very, very good schools, with cast iron reputations).

Molio Sun 03-Jan-16 10:47:06

HanSolo at these schools you're talking about, how do you demonstrate 'need'.

OP what is your joint income, how many dependents do you have and do you have equity in your house?

HanSolo Sun 03-Jan-16 11:05:25

I mean financial need. You have to complete a huge set of financial forms, and provide evidence. They are used to digging thoroughly though! And look into properties owned, businesses, pension funds, shares, trusts etc.
Allowances are made for siblings (including their school fees), other dependents, etc.
If your income is over £80k p.a. you won't qualify for assistance. If you're on below £28k p.a. then full assistance (including uniform) is available (providing you meet their academic standards).

HanSolo Sun 03-Jan-16 11:07:16

Forgive me- mis-typed. £18k p.a., not £28k! blush

Molio Sun 03-Jan-16 11:38:37

HanSolo yes obviously I understood that you meant financial need but so often on MN it's made to sound easy for middle income home owning parents to get whopping great bursaries simply because they have a clever or cleverish kid. If you read through the criteria at any of the top schools you'll see that they delve into everything, which is absolutely as it should be. Wanting an independent education for free, or heavily subsidized, for a bright child because you don't fancy the local state option won't be enough. It's not merely a question of under £28k, it's under £28k with no savings or other realizable assets, both parents working (unless there are very small siblings), and no equity to release in the family home. No doubt there are dodgy independents out there prepared to fund a very bright child, but then I'd query whether that was an advantage over the local state school. It would have to be utterly dire for me to opt for a dodgy independent, bursary or not. Is moving house an option OP?

Molio Sun 03-Jan-16 11:39:57

There are schools where the lower figure is around the £25/8k mark HanSolo, provided the other criteria are met.

Gruach Sun 03-Jan-16 11:47:32

OP Does the school have a website? Have you read it thoroughly? It should be clear about whether bursaries are part of the normal run of business and dealt with efficiently or the occasional one-off after much begging and pleading.

Even if there is no other possible school in your local area you must look up other similar or better places so you can compare what's on offer. If one school wants your child enough to offer a bursary (with or without an academic/music/sports/art scholarship) then it is likely that others will as well.

It pays to do a lot of research. And to be aware that every single school will apply different criteria.

Lurkedforever1 Sun 03-Jan-16 12:02:31

Agree with everything said by gruach. I would only add that they are awarded on a sliding scale, so it's not the case you either get 100% or no help. And in my experience it's also worth checking what is included in the fees. Eg dds school has quite steep fees, but except for expensive none compulsory trips abroad, everything else is either included in fees or as cheap ( or cheaper) than local state schools. Whereas some schools do have a lot of extras to pay on top of fees, meaning that if the bursary only covers the fees anyone who qualified for 100% would struggle with the extra costs.

RummidgeGeneral Sun 03-Jan-16 12:37:02

You ought to check out the financial position of any private school you are considering. Some are quite close to the edge in terms of being going concerns.

Squashybanana Sun 03-Jan-16 12:41:21

Investigate Christ's Hospital if you could bear boarding school. It is entirely charitable and they charge what parents can afford so everyone pays a different amount. The school is in Sussex.

Gruach Sun 03-Jan-16 12:47:40

I feel obliged to add that Christ's Hospital is by no means the only boarding school that offers lifechangingingly magnificent bursaries!

And one does not have to bear boarding. For the right child it is fabulous.

Boring myself now ...

Squashybanana Sun 03-Jan-16 13:01:23

Gruach, I adored boarding myself, but as a parent I can't 'bear' the thought for my kids, it would not be right for them. But I meant that many parents can't bear the idea of their children being away, that's all, not that it was awful for all boarders.

Gruach Sun 03-Jan-16 13:11:50

Fair enuff.

I didn't mind boarding myself - but I am filled with envy seeing the utterly stupendous time children have as boarders now.

If boarding interests you OP we can talk you through the entire process from now (and yr 4 is not a bad place from which to begin your investigations) to the day your clever son is Facetiming you from his dorm/room. (If you haven't considered it do take a look at the Boarders thread for an all round contemporary conversation.)

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