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 https://twitter.com/CatherineStoker
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