What it’s worth knowing about School Bursaries and Scholarships

School Bursaries and scholarships

Choosing a school for your child is one of the major decisions you will make as a parent. You may have ruled out independent education due to the fees. Indeed most families are priced out of the market, especially if they have more than one child, however, before making that final decision, it might be worth knowing what kind of financial assistance is available and where you can get more information.

Increasingly, independent schools are embarking on campaigns to raise more funds for means-tested bursaries. Did you know that around a third of children educated in the independent sector receive some level of fee remission?

Most independent schools are charities with obligations to extend their provision to children who warrant places but whose parents cannot afford the fees. This is why, if you take a look on most independent school websites, you will find a statement relating to “widening access to the brightest but most financially disadvantaged pupils”.

These are commonly only awarded to pupils in the top 50% of performance in the Entrance Exanimations and all bursaries will be means tested, their value being related to the income and financial resources of the pupil’s family. Many schools actually offer up to 100% school fee reduction.

The fact is, good schools want and need children with high ability. If your child is academically bright, you might be eligible for a significant fee reduction to secure the best independent education for them. Clever children improve overall school results, win sporting events and add trophies to their cabinets!

A school’s ability to offer bursaries is related to demand and supply. It therefore depends on the level of interest and volume of applications as to the percentage of eligible students that are able to actually receive a bursary, even if they qualify. It therefore would make sense to your family to shop around rather than place all your hopes on one school.

Scholarships can be very specific and not overly financially relevant, for example there are scholarships for the children of clergy, doctors and single parents. There are specific scholarships for talented singers, dancers, artists and sportspeople, which may be worth looking at if your child has a stand-out talent.

Probably one of the most important aspects of this is to do what is best for your child. If they would really like to attend independent school, they are highly capable and your financial circumstances meet the criteria, then it can’t hurt to be informed about what is on offer.

Some tips for your search:

• Ask early about bursaries at your chosen schools
• Don’t be shy: independent schools expect enquiries about bursaries
• Be prepared to be means-tested. Revealing how much your car, house & holidays cost are essential parts of means testing
• If you don’t get a bursary when your child is 11, try again at 14 or 16 when there may be less competition

Good luck with your search. More information can be found on the Good Schools Guide http://bit.ly/1GyKEuY

    More Rigorous SATs Testing: looking at both sides of the argument

    Sats tests for seven-year-olds in England set to be scrapped

    Last year (2015) brought us a General Election and an election always brings with it an overhaul of the education system. As we approach 9 months of the Conservative government being in power, we thought it was a good time to have a round up on testing legislation for children of primary school age and look at both sides of the argument for more rigorous testing.

    What are SATS? (Standard Assessment Tests)

    SATS are given at the end of year 2, year 6 and year 9. They are used to show a child’s progress compared with other children born in the same month. The average score for each age group on an assessment is set at 100 and the standard deviation at 15. For any age group a given numerical value has the same meaning in terms of standing relative to the group.

    There’s currently a key difference between the two tests as seen below:

    SATs for 7 year olds (Year 2)

    SATs take place in year 2 (at the end of infants) throughout May. Each child is teacher assessed in Reading, Writing, Maths and Science. The class teacher sets short pieces of work in English and Maths to judge what level of ability each child is considered to be.

    SATs for 11 year olds (Year 6)

    SATs for Year 6 pupils take place in May and are far more formal than Key Stage 1, hence their publicity for being stressful. Again core subjects tested are: English, Maths and Science. The papers are sent away to be marked with results being available before the children leave primary school in July.

    Additionally, the Conservatives announced in April 2015 that pupils who fail their SATs in Year 6 will be required to re-sit them in their first year of secondary school (Year 7).

    The arguments for and against more rigorous testing

    Many parents and teachers will be dismayed by the news, wondering why test children more and impose such stress at such a young age. The current system tests are done on a class level which is in theory less stressful for teachers, parents and pupils.

    Politicos are aghast and dismayed at the scheme as a very expensive alternative to allowing qualified experienced teachers to simply make the assessments.

    The government’s rationale behind rigorous national testing of 7 year olds in place of classroom teacher-led assessments is to eliminate the possibility of favouritism in the current system where classroom teachers make the assessments. This in turn ought to improve reliability of scores and provide a better predictor of progress to the next test point in Year 6.

    The issue of Year 6 pupils who failed their SATs having to re-sit in Year 7 may not be as black and white as it sounds either.

    The rationale behind this is that statistically, we know that pupils who fail their SATS go on to score poorly at GCSE, therefore the sooner the issues can be picked up, the sooner interventions can be put in place.

    The human side of the argument remains that relentless tests, especially if the outcome regularly looks poor, can stress out pupils and affect self-esteem, which could exacerbate the problem of achievement rather than help alleviate it.

    One thing is for certain: teachers, parents and politicians will all dive into the debate as this interesting year in primary education unfolds.