Many people believe that private education is the reserve of the wealthy but, with a wide range of scholarships and bursaries available, a world-class education can be open to all.Pupils at Withington Girls’ School celebrate their ‘A’ level success
The prospect of asking for financial help with school fees can fill some people with dread, but the process can be straightforward and will be clearly explained to you. Independent schools thrive on attracting pupils from a diverse mix of cultures and backgrounds and scholarships and bursaries enable them to achieve this.What is a scholarship or a bursary?
Private schools offer financial support in different ways, but the majority offer scholarships which are judged entirely on your child’s merits, and bursaries that will be based on means-tested income. Once awarded a scholarship, which will usually represent about 10% of annual fees, you can then apply for a means-tested bursary which can bring this up to 100% of the fees.
On what basis are scholarships awarded?
Some private schools look for children who are academically very bright but many schools offer a far broader range of scholarships. Some of the most common are academic, sport, music, art and all-rounders – those children who are very good ‘across the board’.
How do I apply for a scholarship or a bursary?
Most schools combine their scholarship examinations with entrance exams for that year group. A special set of papers will be sat and interviews and assessments will be held (sports assessment for sports scholarship, music assessments for music scholarship etc). The school will then decide who is eligible based purely on ability. A means-tested bursary can then be applied for with the help of the bursar.
Who should I speak to?
Speak to the registrar initially. They will be able to give you some basic information about the process and dates of scholarship exams. If you require a bursary then speak to the bursar who will outline the exact process and answer any questions you may have.
Will others know my child is getting financial support?
People will know if your child is awarded a scholarship as there is a lot of kudos attached to obtaining such an award. No one will know if you have been given any further financial assistance unless you tell them. This is a totally private and confidential process.
What about other costs such as uniforms and school trips?
Some schools will also cover all uniform and school trips for holders of substantial bursaries so they can be fully involved in school life without worrying about cost.
Can we get a scholarship at any age?
School should be able to give you a list of all those scholarships available but the majority offer them at key entry points 11+, 13+ and 16+. However, there are always special circumstances so if in doubt just ask.
If you are considering applying for a scholarship or a bursary on behalf of your child then you should:-
- Contact your selected schools at an early stage, at least a full year in advance, to ensure your child can sit the exams at the right time. If you are too late in applying it is likely the scholarship and bursary funds will have already been allocated.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Make sure you have at least two schools on your ‘preferred’ list as competition will be strong
- Ask for past examination papers so you know what is expected.
- Speak to the registrar and bursar or, better still, visit them if you can to make personal contact.
- Remember, you will not be alone in this process. Many families require financial assistance for a variety of reasons
- If in doubt about anything then ask your selected schools for advice.