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State primary to independent secondary school

(47 Posts)
Happysummer Sat 03-Nov-18 16:59:12

Key point: my daughter (aged 8 in year 4) has a talent for sport. She is achieving several years above where she should be for her age and has recently been invited to a pathway group for the county team. We are considering an independent day school in Winchester due to sports facilities, coaching and the extra-curricular activities they offer which are far above any state school.

Am I naive to think she could get a scholarship and bursary?

More details: my daughter is bright, with English (average ability) and music being her weaknesses, but maths and science she is working above where she should be and she shows great understanding of how things work. She loves performing, being part of choir and glee club. Her passion is for sport though. She does well in PE and the last few years has been one of the chosen few to take part in the selective relay races on sports day.

We've got a prospectus from the independent school and booked for an open day in March 2019. She couldn't take her nose out of the extra-curricular activities booklet they sent! The school describes itself as 'appropriately academic' with a big emphasis on sport. I like this as I wouldn't want DD in an overly pushy academic environment.

Bottom line, we are looking at independent due to sports facilities and smaller class sizes with less disruptive pupils. I've read she may be at a disadvantage with the Common Entrance exam as she hasn't been to prep school. Is this really true? I don't understand what the difference is (other than smaller classes/more attention).

We couldn't actually afford the fees, so we'd need them to really want her and offer a bursary of at least half the fees.

Please enlighten me! Neither DH nor I have any experience of independent schools.

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Redskyandrainbows67 Sat 03-Nov-18 17:04:06

Personally I’d save your money. There are great state secondary options around Winchester. I would pay for private sports coaching or teams outside of school - much cheaper.

irregularegular Sat 03-Nov-18 17:05:10

Sorry to state the obvious but arrangements fit scholarships and bursaries will be entirely specific to the school, so there is no substitute for asking them! Or at the very least, getting what information you can from the website.

Generally speaking my understanding was that these days scholarships (based on ability) are fairly nominal and the substantial money comes from bursaries (dependent on income).

And obviously you should get information about the entrance exam and decide whether you will want to employ a tutor or just help her go through practice papers yourself. Some schools are naturally a lot more competitive than others.

beautifulgirls Sat 03-Nov-18 17:08:40

It's certainly possible but the best answers for your specific situation are going to come from the school you are looking at who can be honest with you about their criteria for admission and scholarships and bursaries. Keep working as you are with her and see how far she can get with entry if this is what you feel is the best for her, it may just work out. Many private schools offer sports scholarships so there is likely to be some hope for her. Meanwhile keep also working out of school on her sports and finding the best fit clubs for her and her ability. At least these are likely to be accessible for the longer term to her regardless of what happens for school.

Lightsdown Sat 03-Nov-18 17:09:46

My experience is that sports scholarships that give a big fee discount are long gone. Most likely your only option re fees will be the bursary route which will be means tested. You need to get their family income criteria and apply if you think you meet it.

Happysummer Sat 03-Nov-18 17:28:46

Thank you for your replies. I have been in contact with the bursar who provided the application form so we could see what info is required but wouldn't confirm the criteria. I'm fairly certain (looking at other independent schools locally) our income is low enough to be eligible for some sort of bursary. I've also seen the school accounts from companies House which shows they have a more generous bursary pot than many others.

I take the point paying for private clubs at state school may be better than an independent school. I guess we're just working out the options to get her to where she hopes to get to!

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Redskyandrainbows67 Sat 03-Nov-18 17:38:54

If you are in kings, Perrins or thorden catchment that led to Peter Symonds college I definitely wouldn’t pay for private school. Many private school pupils even come over to Peter symonds for a level because it is better than their small sixth forms.

Redskyandrainbows67 Sat 03-Nov-18 17:39:47

Sorry I meant testbourne not thorden

Floottoot Sat 03-Nov-18 17:41:42

My D'S moved from a state primary to an independent secondary. He is excellent at English, average at maths, and got a music scholarship, which allowed us to apply for a bursary.
I'd say that the advantage of going down this route for is, is that he does a lot of musical activities in school, in school time, so we don't have to taxi him here, there and everywhere. Also, the other opportunities available to him in the independent school are far greater than those he would have had at the local state school; it's not as simple as "save your money and use it to pay for tutors" etc.

Redskyandrainbows67 Sat 03-Nov-18 17:45:16

What other opportunities?

Happysummer Sat 03-Nov-18 17:50:01

We are in Southampton, but I work in Winchester, so logistically it would work great for going to school there.

Floottoot, interesting to know. How did he find the entrance exams?

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tomhazard Sat 03-Nov-18 18:04:06

I don't know the area or the schools but I am involved with admissions at a private school in another part of the country.

If she's very talented and they want her, plus you earn less than around 75k combined and don't have large assets (2nd homes, flashy cars) then she may well get a scholarship and a bursary which combined could give you fees that you could afford.

If you feel it's the school for her then apply, fill in scholarship and application forms and make a meeting with the bursar to discuss and negotiate. Nothing is impossible.

The only thing I would say is do you have another child? If so does he/she also have a talent and do you think you'd be able to provide a similar opportunity for that child too?

Redskyandrainbows67 Sat 03-Nov-18 18:13:40

I wouldn’t rate Southampton state schools so highly sadly

Happysummer Sat 03-Nov-18 18:24:45

Thank you Tomhazard.

Yes, sadly we do fall into the 'poor' category from what you've said!

I don't want to make her think the school is a possibility if it isn't. My worry is that she'll be at a disadvantage coming from state school as they won't be able to support her application, other than a school report I guess. I doubt they've had any other child apply for an independent. Local state schools are ok but nothing stands out.

The school is all girls and we have a two year old boy, so no chance of him going there! But I know what you mean. He's ended up going to a different nursery than she did, as they are very different personalities. We have no idea yet if he could apply for an independent school so it's difficult to make an informed decision.

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Floottoot Sat 03-Nov-18 18:41:28

Happy, DS was the only child from his school to move to independent, so no support from that direction. Not due we tutor him at all - the school we applied to told all applicants the entrance exams couldn't be studied for.
He found the exams fine; his English was better than his maths, unsurprisingly.

tomhazard Sat 03-Nov-18 18:44:16

Happy summer if you fall into the ' poor' category and your dd is at a state school that doesn't routinely tutor kids or have a very middle class catchment then you are exactly who bursaries are for: talented children who would benefit from the school who cannot otherwise afford to attend. Apply! There is money available for people in your shoes and the schools have to be seen to be using it in the right way. There are never enough applicants who could get in who actually apply for bursary funding: they always think they won't get in at a price they can manage which isn't true.

Be honest with your daughter and say you will look into getting her in, but she's more likely to go to the excellent (big it up even if it's not!) school that is nearby . Don't get her hopes up but do apply.

As for your son, he is a bit younger so it sounds like they could potentially have no cross over at secondary? In which case you can worry about him a bit later - you may well be able to get him in somewhere too when you know where his talents lie!

Happysummer Sat 03-Nov-18 18:47:51

Thanks floot. Other threads make it sound like indie prep schools train them for the entrance exams. State education does give them what they need to apply then!

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Happysummer Sat 03-Nov-18 18:58:08

Thanks Tom. Her chosen sport is rather niche (not saying because if she gets in anyone with Google with know this thread is about her!) but she really is excelling. She was competing against children 4 years older than her in the summer holidays. She says she is going to win gold at the Olympics in LA 2028!

Good advice about selling the local state secondary, so she knows it not a consolation prize.

Yes, they won't be at secondary together due to the age gap so hopefully they wouldn't think one was treated favourably. In fact, his development is all top of the charts for progress. To us he is noticeably more able than our daughter was at his age. So we'll see!

I appreciate everyone's responses and experiences, it's all good information.

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Esspee Sat 03-Nov-18 19:17:29

I had my children sit entrance exams for the two top private schools in our area when we lived in a small Caribbean island. They had no coaching but both passed for both schools. If your daughter has done well at a decent primary school I expect she will have no problem passing the exam. You need to concentrate on whether private school is the right choice for her and the family.

NeedingCoffee Sat 03-Nov-18 20:29:59

Without wanting to rain on your parade, your mention of a “niche” sport rings alarm bells. Most schools want their sports scholars to boost the school’s sporting profile and successes. That usually means being in all the hockey, lacrosse, netball etc A teams and being very talented at one or more of those or other core school sports. Hopefully your daughter’s talent in one sport means she’ll be ahead of the game in others too, but it will be worth ensuring she can demonstrate this - now’s the time to join local hockey and netball clubs if she isn’t already in them.

Happysummer Sat 03-Nov-18 20:50:05

Needing coffee you are right! To get a sports scholarship she would need to be doing one of the main school sports too. I thought once we've been to the open day, if she wants to go for it, we will have the chat about what is required and if she's prepared to take up another sport. There is a school netball team at her primary school she could sign up for. She's very tall so I think she could do well.

I have told the school what her sport is and if they said "we would definitely wish to support and encourage" and that they have had one girl before doing that sport.

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OnceUponATimeInAmerica Sat 03-Nov-18 20:51:00

Agree with Needingcoffee here. All the sports scholarships round here ask for evidence of competing at county standard in at least one of the core sports. I have a friend whose son is competing at national standard in his martial art, and is highly academic, but no scholarship because his sport is not cricket/rugby/football.

If her sport is niche, can she even get coaching in it at the independent school? If you are then planning to commute daily from Southampton to Winchester for school, will there be time outside school for coaching?

And logistically, what happens if you move job for any reason? You'd then have a child to still be schlepping to Winchester which may no longer be achievable.

Happysummer Sat 03-Nov-18 20:52:53

They said "we would definitely wish to support and encourage". Typo!

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Happysummer Sat 03-Nov-18 21:07:53

All good points. Yes they have a weekly coach but it's not a core sport. Only one girl has gone on to national competitions. It may be she doesn't fit the scholarship criteria, but a good "all-rounder" we may get the bursary anyway. All ifs and buts!

I was thinking for the first year I would do the school run but after that she could get the bus or train.

Do keep questions/feedback coming!

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PettsWoodParadise Sat 03-Nov-18 22:13:22

Do bear in mind for bursaries it isn’t always just about income. I was looking at Independents for DD and we had a very small income but the equity in our house blew the application out of the water. Fair enough we could make a choice of downsizing, new mortgage for 25 years or selling up and renting. We couldn’t afford the last option.m as rental costs were ateinomical. First two options had major implications for a long time that may have been fair if we really really wanted it but I didn’t want to give up my spare room for when DH snores or my garden or my church and connections. Very importantly we also had some great state alternatives. We were lucky to have the choice so I see the bursary point of view. Our experience of course may not be the same for every school.

From DD’s state school they have an Olympic Gold medalist. From her private junior school that also has a senior school they don’t. From what I know of these examples which isn’t exactly scientific it isn’t the school it is the parents and the specialists clubs nearby.

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