Children across the UK who are in Year 6 will already be preparing to move up to secondary school and parents are beginning to attend open days to decide which academic institution will give their child the best chance of fulfilling their future potential.
Every parent would like to ensure their child receives outstanding teaching and excellent pastoral care, as well as access to first-rate facilities and exciting extra-curricular activities. In some cases, children may miss out on their ideal education due to misinformation alone. Being unable to afford independent school fees, not feeling welcome or expensive extras (such as school trips or musical instrument fees) are just some of the common misconceptions preventing parents from considering every educational opportunity.
Last year, the independent school sector and the UK Government agreed to increase the number of bursaries available for lower income families. Most schools now carry out a means-test that looks at income, assets and liabilities; free places are awarded to those on low incomes and partial awards offered to those on middle incomes. Schools often also provide financial support for trips, music lessons and a range of other costs.
The two most common types of support are scholarships and bursaries. Scholarships are merit-based and awarded to those who excel academically or in sport, music, art and drama. Bursaries are means-tested and designed for those who pass the entry examinations, but would struggle to pay annual attendance fees. Both avenues can lead to children receiving a world-class education in a stimulating learning environment.
The Independent Schools Council has revealed a third of pupils who are attending fee-paying schools benefit from some form of fee-assistance. Up to half of pupils now applying for a place at independent schools come from state primaries, as opposed to private prep schools. Even if children have already progressed beyond 11+, it’s worth exploring the options available as some schools provide bursaries at different entry points.