Friday, 13 February 2015

#Scholarships and #Bursaries to Independent Schools-solving the perceived mystery

One of the queries that regularly comes my way at this time of year is that of the perceived mystery surrounding scholarships and bursaries to independent schools. What are they, what’s the difference and how do parents go about securing one?

Nearly all independent schools offer financial assistance of some kind. Firstly, let’s talk about Scholarships. These require pupils to demonstrate excellence in some or several areas such as music, sport, academics or ‘all-rounder’. Exhibitions, or mini-scholarships, can also allow for financial assistance with extra-curricular music or drama lessons.

Both are awarded on the basis of performance in written and sometimes practical tests, depending on the area in which they’re being awarded. There will almost certainly be an interview too. Scholarship testing usually takes place on set dates each year and these can usually be found on the school’s website, alongside details and deadlines for applications. Allowing at least a two year lead-time for applications is the norm.

Scholarships tend to be awarded on merit in sport, art, academics, music or all-round ability. In most cases, they’re not linked to parents’ financial need. Some can even be honorary accolades, with no financial benefit at all.

Feeder prep schools work very closely with senior schools and know the process inside out. So taking advice from your current Head on the likelihood of your child gaining a scholarship is crucial. They will also advise on the process and help with the application. A strong reference will be important, as well as help with preparing for interviews and tests.

Scholarships are often reviewed annually since there will be conditions attached, such as working hard and making a positive on-going contribution to the school community in the area in which they’ve been awarded. Sometimes an award can be made to internal candidates who’ve made a strong contribution in a particular area, since joining the school. A good example could be applying for a sixth form scholarship if your child has contributed at an exceptional level throughout their time at the school to date. Some schools may consider awarding a scholarship to encourage retention of an able student, who may be in two minds about moving school for sixth form. If this describes your child, it’s always worth asking. In a similar way, some scholarships require repayment if your child leaves part-way through their school career, such as at sixth form.

Next week, some advice on Bursaries. Follow us on Twitter so we can keep you posted on our latest Blog topics. Click here

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Tel 01865 522066 or email Claire via

Monday, 9 February 2015

The future’s not so much about the big idea - it’s about having the #technological skills to make the big idea happen.

I spend quite a proportion of my week visiting #schools. One of the most noticeable changes over the past couple of years has been the advent of teachnology, in other words, technology to support teaching and learning across all areas of the curriculum. Ipads and Apps are increasingly becoming vital classroom tools and many teachers have initiated creative ways to engage and inspire children’s interest in learning through their use.

The I.T. curriculum is no longer about PC skills such as learning how to touch-type or use Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These skills are now almost second nature to children who, surrounded by technology from a young age, have grown up using them for almost as long as they have been able to read and write. Instead, programming through learning to code is fast becoming the future of technological learning in schools.

Learning how to write and understand the language of computer code gives youngsters an insight into the logic behind the technology they come across every day via Apps, smartphones and programmable gadgets, enabling them to engage more within the world in which we now live.

As important as learning French, Spanish or Mandarin, computer code has possibly become, the most powerful and useful language of all. Even if they never intend to pursue a career in programming, the logical thinking, creativity and problem solving skills it requires will certainly prove useful, whatever career path youngsters take.

Coding, competent use of technology and an ability to exploit the internet will be future essentials for the CV, since they are fast becoming fundamental to all aspects of innovation and communication.

As entrepreneurial adults most of us can fantasise about the next big money making idea. However, our children will be able to go one step further and actually bring their ideas to life, programming their own App, gadget or web-based platform.

Feel like you are missing out and want to get involved in learning alongside your children at home? Here is a selection of simple websites which support the learning of coding and programming skills.