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Getting a Bursary to a Private Secondary School

By: Sarah Knowles BA, MA - Updated: 26 Mar 2023 | comments*Discuss
Bursary School Private Fees Secondary

Worried how you can afford to pay for your little darlings to attend private school? Well, help might be at hand - if your child is among the lucky few to get a full bursary. It’s estimated that about 150,000 children who attend independent schools, or about one-third, receive some financial assistance to pay with their school fees, which can be £9,000 per term – or even more.

Bursaries can be partial or full, and come from either the school itself or charitable trusts and companies. Each school has different criteria concerning who gets what, which means every application will be looked at individually, no matter how many schools you apply for.

The good news is that the number of bursaries has increased as the government cut down the number of assisted places. In order to qualify for tax benefits as charities, many private schools use bursaries as a way of proving they are working for the public benefit.

What is a Bursary?

Bursaries are usually awarded after a student has been accepted to the school, usually on the basis of an entrance exam. Sometimes a potential student will also have to pass an interview with flying colours in order to gain admission as well.

In virtually all cases, bursaries are then awarded on the basis of financial need. Your family will be scrupulously means-tested to determine whether your child should get a bursary, and how much.

As schools have limited means at their disposal, the amount of a bursary will vary. Some schools award several 100 per cent bursaries, which means that the fees will, in effect, be waived. Others will give partial bursaries, which can range from as little as 10 per cent of the cost and upwards.

Scholarships Vs Bursaries

Scholarships differ from bursaries in that they are awarded purely on merit, without taking the financial status of the applicant into consideration. Pupils applying to some secondary schools can get a scholarship on the basis of art, music, drama or sport, for example.

In some cases, only a partial scholarship is awarded – such as ten per cent of the total cost of fees. Often this is done to tip the scales in favour of one school over another – parents would be more likely to send their child to a school that not only costs ten per cent less, but also valued their child enough to offer them a discount.

Applying for a Bursary

It’s important to keep in mind that every independent school will have its own criteria for who gets a bursary, and how much. Harrow school, for example, awards bursaries to students who have already received scholarships, or a “financial award for excellence”, but who cannot afford the full fees.

Scholarships are awarded for academic ability in a specific area, such as music or athletics, and can result in a fee reduction of 5 to 10 per cent of the total. Bursaries at Harrow are up to 100 per cent, according to their website. Although it is not clear how many are awarded every year, the total monetary amount spent on bursaries equals almost £1 million per year.

Specialised Bursaries

Some schools or charitable trusts and organisations offer bursaries for specific children only, or fee reductions for children who come from certain families. You will need to research which schools offer these provisions and see if they apply to you. Among the children who can benefit are:

  • Children of clergy
  • Children whose parents are in the armed forces
  • Orphans
  • Children from single-parent families
While bursaries can be a great help to children who would otherwise be unable to afford a place at a private secondary school, not everyone meets the criterion. Academic ability is always put first and foremost. Children who do not pass the entrance exams first will not be considered for admission, let alone a bursary.

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[Add a Comment]
My daughter is in year 6 she's been offered a place in Palmer's green. I'm a single mum and unfortunately I'm not able to afford it and she worked hard on her exam and interviewfor her to get a offer. Is there any way you would you could help her with getting a bursary.
Anna - 26-Mar-23 @ 3:33 PM
How do I apply for bursary for secondary school. Can’t seem to find application. I am registered disabled and my son has passed and been accepted and scholarship not enough.
Shax - 6-Feb-23 @ 4:22 PM
I’m Maggie Mohohla from South Africa. I’m a disabled single mom of two daughters. My ex husband doesn’t maintain the kids which puts me in a financial mess.!I am behind with fees, bond, levies payments. I haven’t worked since I had a stroke in 2016. I would really appreciate your assistance with a bursary, please contact me via email, looking forward to your urgent response
Mags - 30-Jun-22 @ 4:33 PM
Will both twins get a bursary if I applied for one?
Lolly - 27-Jun-22 @ 4:35 PM
I am a single mother of two boys 15 and 10 help my 15yr to pursue her dream of becoming an engineer
Sizdu - 5-Jul-21 @ 4:15 PM
Hi I’m looking a good private school for my children. I live in Manchester. How to apply for bursary and or scholarships for sixth form. My child is 14y. Thanks Novera
Zam - 14-Jun-21 @ 1:54 PM
my son is going in secondary one next year am requesting your office to help my son to achieve his dreams of becoming doctor. thank u
hashim - 1-Apr-21 @ 5:52 PM
My daughter is in year 5 and she is clever doing excellent at school. I am looking to apply private school I real need your kind support please help me
Nenei - 22-Mar-21 @ 7:19 PM
My daughter is already in a secondary school and is year 7. If I applied for frammar school then would I be able to get help with the Costs. I am a single parent and a student myself.
Shaz - 9-Feb-21 @ 12:47 PM
I daughter passed kelvinside academy test. But my bursary application is unsuccessful . Could you please provide any help about the bursary application. Thanks
Ruby - 6-Feb-21 @ 10:15 PM
hi... My son turning to 13y next month. Would it be possible for him to get a independent school education with a support of bursary. I am a single parent. Thank you
Dona - 13-Sep-20 @ 12:20 AM
Hi I have a daughter turning 12 years on July end.She is in grade 6 this year.I am a single parent who is unemployed, I would like my daughter to attend at private school, she is a brilliant child, I would appreciate for a bursary for her. Thank you.
Lungi - 15-Jul-20 @ 8:26 PM
Hi! I have just seen that, you offer bursaries, as you may realize, i dropped out of school in 2018(2 years ago), i had qualified for senior one , i even got my admission letter to join senior one, but i could not afford the tuition fees of 700,00/=(seven hundred thousand Uganda shillings) the equivalent of $200. my dad is unemployed ,my mum is a house wife.I would like to join secondary school on 05/FEB/2020 if you consider my application. Please i am willing to give you all the details about my life and family. looking forward to hearing from you very soon. princess
princess - 19-Jan-20 @ 12:07 PM
My child has not gotten her end of year reportcause I cant pay her school fees she is 15 years old also her siblingshavenot been going to school for 2 monthsand I am a singlemothertheir father died of cancer in 2017 I would ne gratefulif you get to me
Rachel - 24-Dec-19 @ 4:29 PM
I ama single parent of two boys 11 and 2 years. I am struggling to pay for my 11 year old attending at some private school, I really don't know what to do I need help. Sometimes I'm thinking of keeping him home until next year
Tso - 30-Sep-19 @ 1:52 PM
I've hunting for a bursary for 3 years now to take me to a good school. I was once accepted in Oprah Winfrey Academyof Girls and had no money to pay for fees.I just want to be away from home and get best education as possible.
Vero - 18-Jun-19 @ 11:25 PM
Hi, I am a single mother with two children a 10-year-old boy who is in year 5 and a 4-year-old daughter. I would like some assistance with bursary my son is an extremely bright boy and hi will benefit from going to private school. Please any advice
Sal - 17-Jun-19 @ 12:09 PM
Hi my name is Glenda I am no longer working but m selling some beuaty products and I am a single mother, my daughter is in grade 9 and she has been a top student since primary and would like to enroll her at St Catherine convent as it is one of the best schools around but can't afford it.
Cookie - 5-Jun-19 @ 12:38 PM
I'm looking for bursary my son is schooling in king Edward matatiele.he is a good player in rugby he is selected for sharks team l wish him to be admittedin Glenwood to fulfill his sports career .he is a 80% achiever in other subject And a 90% achiever in mathematics Please help l cannot afford Glenwood fees with boarding fees
Stella - 26-May-19 @ 7:59 AM
My son got 40%bursary from a independent school. The National Children’s Springboard will give some,I need help to top up other fees.Is there any advice you could give to me please? For entry September this year. Thanks ??
Fan - 5-May-19 @ 1:23 PM
Hi I am a single parent and my son is currently in grade 6. I would like to get him into a good high school as he does exceptionally well. I am also looking for a bursary for him
Lee - 2-May-19 @ 7:28 AM
Hi, my son was accepted in grammar school for September 2019 but wasn't offered bursary. We are family of 5 with low income and can not afford to pay the fees. He scored very high, very bright child and it was very sad to tell him that decision is based on familyfinancial aspect. His dad is also disabled with serious health issues. I'm looking forward to hear from you. Thank you.
IG - 14-Mar-19 @ 6:46 PM
OUR daughter has been admitted to a private school, Bromley High, but our financial circumstances are such that we can not afford the fees; short of a miracle.My wife works but on a low income and I have not been in work for some time due to health problems and also the effects of a bereavement suffered some time back.Wonder if there is any advise you can offer on how to get a bursary.
ejakait - 26-Feb-19 @ 10:08 AM
We would like some advice or assistance please, our son recently sat the entrance exam for the local Grammar school. Fantastic news is he passed and was offered a place for September 2019, however he didn't qualify for a bursary as they ran out of funds. We are a family on a low income and have no way of paying the fees. We do not want our son to miss out on this amazing opportunity. I await your reply!
Faith - 5-Feb-19 @ 7:21 PM
Can I please have some admission forms forms sent via post ?? I have two daughters who need secondary school places as I'm moving to southampton on the 28th September!
Lea - 6-Sep-18 @ 10:00 AM
Good day, I am looking for the bursary for my child. He is currently doing grade 3 and a good cricketer. The school he is in is so expensive and other school do not have cricket. He is also an A plus pupil at his school. I am looking forward to hear from you.
Bheki - 29-Aug-18 @ 3:53 PM
I am single parent, a father of a twins, I looking for assist to a Busary of grade 1,I want to take my children's to the private school where the can also do sport like swimming which the like so much,there are 6 year old,I want to give them the opportunity that I didn't never get when I was your due to the appathied from South Africa that affect many households From South africa, my parent never went to school so want my children's getting the opportunity so themself one day can give back to the community
Nd - 20-Mar-18 @ 6:53 AM
Hey!My name is Lee.I live in a one room and my mom is a single parent who gets paid under minimum wage.I'm in grade 9 and my mom has been struggling to pay my school funds.I am a very dedicated student who really loves school and I want to enter a new school next year that's in Randburg but my mom does not have the funds to help me go to the school. I hope that you can help me out with getting a bursary. Thanks -Lee
Lee - 20-Oct-17 @ 6:47 PM
Hi!I'm lesedi I live in a 2room with my mom she suffers from paying school fees as she doesn't have a proper job....I really love school and I get great marks I would also like to go to a better school with a better education ...I really need a bursary to pay for my school Fee's please help!!
Lesedi - 12-Apr-17 @ 11:35 PM
hi I am a single mum of three kids two grown up boy I am looking for someonewho will to help me for my two sons for university fees the one who want run egneer the other boy who want to be ansales and marketing the last she is girl who want to be a doctor please if they was any one can help for my kids education I will appreciate a lot God bless you whatever your...
kawii - 5-Apr-17 @ 9:03 PM
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