How fewer scholarships and more bursaries will help all parents

  • Post category:Bursaries

Bursaries, rather than scholarships, should be the prime method employed private schools to secure the best applicants.

This would mean they’d be allocating their bursary funds more effectively to assist less well-off pupils, a leading headmistress has said, according to an article in The Telegraph by Camilla Turner, education editor.

Emma Hattersley, head at the £32,000-a-year Godolphin School, an independent school in Salisbury, said that scholarships for exceptionally talented pupils should be “phased out” in favour of fee assistance for pupils from less-well off families.

During her five years as headmistress at Godolphin School, she said she has made a “conscious decision” to slash the fee discount for music, drama or academic scholars from over 20 per cent to ten per cent.

Bursaries, not scholarships

Swapping merit-based scholarships for means-tested bursaries is something that all private schools should consider, Ms Hattersley said.

Charitable status

Her comments come amid mounting pressure on the country’s most prestigious private schools to step up their efforts to help less well-off pupils.

To qualify as a charity they must demonstrate that they provide “public benefit” to a reasonably wide section of the public, rather than to a narrow group of wealthy individuals.

Three quarters of independent schools in England are registered as charities, earning them favourable business rates and VAT exemptions on fees.

Ms Hattersley said that while she would “love to be able to phase out” merit-based scholarships completely, she is aware that it is a “competitive market” with schools are constantly trying to outdo one another to attract the brightest and most talented pupils.

As tutors who work with parents from a variety of income levels we’re keenly aware that many less well-off parents don’t consider independent schools when reviewing their school options.

Those independent schools, however, are the ones who may have funds available to support their applications.

Private schools support state schools in various ways

Damian Hinds called on private schools to help children from neighbouring state primaries learn to swim by allowing them to use their sports facilities.

Just over half of private schools already share their facilities with other schools, as well as some offering coaches to local primary schools.  

Bursary applications

  • Have you applied for a bursary and if so, were you successful?
  • Were you put off from applying for a bursary and if so, why?
  • How did you find the procedure?
  • Are there any tips or suggestions you’d like to pass on to other parents?

Comment below as we’d be interested to hear how you’ve found the bursary procedure worked for you

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