Image: Stonyhurst College
It’s no secret that for all but a small minority of families, the cost of independent schooling is a huge and often overwhelming financial commitment. But that doesn’t mean a place at an independent school is unobtainable. Long ago, there was a widely held belief that independent schools were only the preserve of the privileged, but nowadays, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Providing financial aid is a big and important priority for many independent schools, who are actively growing their financial aid pots to enable a wider range of families to access independent education – with everything from scholarships giving 5 per cent off school fees to life-changing 110 per cent bursaries on offer. More families are likely to be eligible for support than you might think.
That said, there’s no doubt that demystifying the jargon, navigating the bursary-application process and picking up the phone to a school to divulge your financial history can be a nerve-racking and difficult process. The financial-aid world can be a total minefield, and there are often no black and white answers to what you’d think are simple questions.
Instead of spending hours trawling the internet, listening to dinner-party chat or speculating, the best thing you can do is pick up the phone and have an honest conversation with a school’s bursar or admissions team. They will be able to offer specific advice based on your own personal circumstances – and from our experience, they are always friendly, patient people who are well aware of the enormity of the process.
What’s really important is to remember that starting the conversation with a school need not have an impact on your child’s chances of securing a place. The admissions process is used to identify the children with the ability or potential to thrive in a school; the bursary process considers what support people might need and how much money they have.
Bursaries: the nuts and bolts
Many schools have healthy bursary pots for the right candidate, and each school’s Talk Education page has some brief information about what the level of support tends to be at each individual school (have a look in the ‘Fees & Bursaries’ box under a school’s review).
First things first…
Bear in mind that applying for a bursary is a long, detailed and necessarily intrusive process, so give yourself plenty of time. Another important thing to note is that even if you meet all of the requirements for a bursary (these are factors including your household income, expenditure, assets, the number of children you have, loans, debts and your financial commitments), it is not a given that you will receive one. Each family is dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
How much financial support can I expect to receive?
Sadly, it’s impossible to answer this. Each school’s bursary pot, if it has one, is shared between candidates and this might vary year on year. Bursarial support depends not only on your family circumstances, but also on the situation of the individual school or school group. Some schools, much as they would love to offer generous bursaries, do not have the funds to do so, or find it tricky to attract the right families who both meet the entrance criteria and are genuinely in need. Others have large endowments and are eager to find the right candidates to spend it on.
What is worth knowing is that the level of fee assistance available at schools can stretch right across the spectrum. Some people might think they won’t qualify for a bursary because – on paper – they have a fairly comfortable life, but bursaries come in all shapes and sizes. Schools are incredibly aware of the financial pressures on the squeezed middle, and many offer partial bursaries, which might be linked to exceptional achievement and cover a small discount off fees – say, anything from 5 to 30 per cent. In essence, these bursaries top up what a family can afford to help get them over the line.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are life-changing ‘transformational’ bursaries. These are the shining stars of financial aid and can offer families fee discounts of up to 110 per cent to cover extras such as uniform, trips and music lessons. A number of charities including Royal SpringBoard
(more on them below) help schools actively recruit the right pupils for these bursaries. They are usually offered at senior-school level, but sometimes pupils are sponsored through their final two years of prep school, ensuring they arrive at their senior school fully prepared for the years ahead.
Both types of bursary – partial and transformational – are really important to schools. They want to be able to attract pupils from all walks of life and all demographics, and they don’t want the fees to be an impediment to a talented pupil who could really benefit from an education at their school.
What is the difference between a bursary and a scholarship?
Scholarships are offered to pupils who show exceptional talent in academics, sports, art, music, D&T, drama, etc. They are not related to family income. Many scholarships do not come hand in hand with a large fee reduction (5 to 10 per cent is common, although some schools do offer up to 50 per cent off fees for selected scholarships). Some scholarships are wholly honorary and more schools are moving towards this model. But a heads-up – scholarships are often hard won. Sports scholarships often require children to play at least to county level in one or more sports; music scholarships can demand significantly more expertise and ability than top grades in music exams.
Bursaries are strictly means-tested and, although they require children to pass the usual entrance requirements, they do not usually depend on a child winning a scholarship (although occasionally they are). That said, some schools might award a child a scholarship and then offer to top it up via a means-tested bursary.
Many schools are now offering much more specific scholarships that appeal to children from all backgrounds and encompass a wide range of talents. Caterham School
, for example, offers scholarships in areas ranging from coding to problem-solving. Other schools such as Bilton Grange
actively seek choral scholars – and any associated fee discount can be augmented by a bursary of up to 100 per cent.
Do schools offer financial aid to parents in certain professions?
Yes. Some schools have historical financial provision for children with parents serving in the armed forces, for example, while others might offer fee remission for the son or daughter of an active member of the clergy. In the case of the armed forces, this may be linked to a family’s Continuation of Education Allowance (CEA), which is designed to assist service personnel with their child’s boarding-school fees in order to minimise disruption if a parent’s job requires frequent travel or relocation both nationally and internationally.
Is a bursary for life?
Not necessarily. If you accept a bursary, make sure you’ve understood all the terms on which this has been awarded. They are generally awarded for the whole of a child’s time at a school but are reviewed annually, with the school retaining the right to increase or decrease the award depending on the family’s financial circumstances.
Some schools also offer emergency bursary funds, designed to help current pupils whose families have fallen on sudden and unexpected financial hardship. These are usually temporary, and help prevent any disruption to schooling while the family get back on their feet.
Who else can I speak to for advice?
There are a handful of organisations out there that work very closely with independent schools in order to help facilitate and offer bursaries to the right candidates. One, the London Fee Assistance Consortium
(LFAC), was set up with the aim of getting the message out about the availability of fee assistance and making the application process less daunting. LFAC works in tandem with 33 of London’s top independent schools
, including Bancroft’s School
, Godolphin & Latymer School
and King’s College School Wimbledon
also does amazing work to help provide transformational bursaries
to pupils all over the UK. The charity works to give disadvantaged and vulnerable children access to fully funded bursaries at boarding schools (soon the programme will include day schools too). All of the children the charity supports are currently or have been either looked after in the care system; are vulnerable or on the ‘edge’ of care due to difficult home lives; or are from areas with high levels of social deprivation. Organisations like this just go to show that independent education really is open to everyone, regardless of their background.
What schools are doing to help
We’re constantly blown away by the level of commitment from schools to growing their financial-aid provision. It’s clear that many are bending over backwards to make themselves accessible to pupils from all walks of life – and in turn, enriching their school community, and helping to remove the outdated perception that independent schools are privileged bubbles.
Traditionally, senior schools had a greater ability to help families than prep schools, although this is changing. Highfield and Brookham
, for example, is evangelical about broadening access, and its commitment to its bursary programme is rarely seen at prep-school level. Funded places are offered to pupils who, it’s felt, ‘would clearly benefit from a private education but whose family circumstances make it little more than a pipe dream’, says the school. ‘In the current climate, access to private education is becoming more and more of a privilege, and we recognise our responsibility to ensure we bridge this advantage gap.’
Since the school launched its hugely successful Centenary Bursaries Fund in 2007, they have totally transformed the lives of 17 pupils – including those who were experiencing social difficulties, children with special needs and lacking the right academic support, and gifted children, where Highfield and Brookham’s environment could allow them to realise their potential far more than in another school.
The school firmly believes that this early intervention is key: ‘Supporting children up to the age of 13 educationally and pastorally has been proven to have a dramatically positive effect on their life chances and on their chances of further educational opportunities at the best schools, colleges and universities later in life. Many independent senior schools find that trying to widen access at 11+ or 13+ is challenging, because by that age children from disadvantaged backgrounds will often not have had sufficient academic grounding to thrive in such schools.’
Cumnor House Sussex
offers a similarly impressive scheme. Launched in 2015, the Cumnor Foundation offers two fully funded scholarships each year to children in Year 3 at a Sussex state primary who are excelling academically and performing at the top of their class. What makes this programme so unique is that it covers the entire cost of a child’s education for the 10 years from age eight to 18 – and when the pupil reaches 13+, the school works closely with a number of senior-school partners (including Benenden
, The King’s School, Canterbury
and Sevenoaks School
) to orchestrate their move into the senior school’s own 100 per cent funded fee-assistance programme. While Foundation Scholars are required to excel academically, places are always strictly means-tested and only awarded to families who could never afford a private-school education. The school works closely with a number of local state schools, community groups and sport clubs to raise awareness of the Foundation and support applications from as wide an area as possible.
‘We currently have seven Foundation Scholars in Years 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 who are thriving within our school community,’ says head Fergus Llewellyn. ‘It is particularly heart-warming to see our Foundation Scholars reach the end of their Cumnor journey, to enable their smooth transition to senior school and keep in touch with their progress once they’ve left us.’
Earlier this year, Caldicott School
launched its Hitchin Scholarship, aimed at academically able pupils who excel in sport, music, art or drama but may not be able to afford the school fees. The award offers £1,000 off school fees each year but can also be supplemented by a fully funded means-tested bursary where there is proven financial need. It’s all thanks to generous sponsorship from parents, and, says head Jeremy Banks, ‘having the opportunity to expand access to Caldicott has brought a wide number of positives to the whole community’.
Senior schools tend to have even bigger endowment funds, and the work they are doing to widen access is nothing short of amazing. Take Radley College
, whose ambition by 2032 is for the equivalent of 20 per cent of all fee income to fund means-tested funded places – half on full awards, the other half on partial funding. Once this is achieved, up to a third of boys will be in receipt of some level of fee assistance.
One pupil who has benefited from the scheme is Hamza, who joined Radley on a free place in the sixth form. At the end of his first year, Hamza was awarded the prestigious Malcolm Robinson Memorial Fund Scholarship, which allowed him to travel to William and Mary College in the US for a three-week course in early American history.
‘I look back on the flurry of emotions in the weeks before starting at Radley,’ he says. ‘I found myself burying my mind in dread, fear and anxiety, but I felt an instant sense of belonging when walking into H Social [his boarding house] with its love, camaraderie and energy. Living in a house of bold and talented characters fuelled by willingness to throw myself into the endless opportunities Radley has to offer – from swimming and rowing to CCF and Scottish reeling.’
is making similar waves. The Stonyhurst Foundation aims to be the largest endowed, ring-fenced independent bursary and financial-aid charity of its kind in Catholic education in the UK. This academic year, 34 per cent of pupils are in receipt of fee support or bursary assistance, through a combination of transformational bursaries (up to the value of 110 per cent of fees) that support talented, charismatic children from areas of significant poverty, and talent bursaries, awarded in conjunction with competitive academic, drama, music and sports scholarships.
A bursary is more than financial support,’ says former pupil Mary, who spent seven years at Stonyhurst before going on to read English at Cambridge. ‘I was granted a place in a school that would shape not only my education but my entire person. It is an investment of faith in a child, and taught me to greatly value my education, even from a young age, and it gave me everything.’
offers a combination of means-tested bursaries (awarded in conjunction with a scholarship) and transformational bursaries, which fund the whole cost of educating pupils from challenging backgrounds. These awards cover 110 per cent of fees to ensure that pupils don’t miss out on extra trips and activities – and this academic year, there are 17 pupils in the school across all year groups benefiting from one of these awards.
Many schools are spurred on to grow their bursary coffers by upcoming anniversaries and the ambitions of their founders. In 2028, Tonbridge School
will celebrate its 475th anniversary, and by then it hopes to have 100 pupils on substantial means-tested support (at present, 66 boys receive financial aid). The school’s Foundation Award scheme is designed to give any bright and talented boy access to a Tonbridge education, and in some cases, this targeted support begins at prep-school level, with the school sponsoring a boy through Year 7 and 8 in preparation for their arrival at Tonbridge in Year 9. ‘As someone who benefited from an assisted place, I recognise just how transformative the gift of an educational opportunity can be,’ says James Priory, Tonbridge’s headmaster. ‘It is an extraordinary privilege to be able to provide similar opportunities to young people and their families through our Foundation Award programme.’
In January 2022, Benenden
launched its Be the Change campaign, which seeks to triple the number of bursary recipients at the school by its centenary year in 2023-24. The aim is to have 24 bursary-funded students (with up to 100 per cent of school fees covered, as well as an allowance for extras, subject to means-testing) in the school at any given time. ‘Every time I see my daughter achieve things I know she would never have done before, my heart soars with pride and with hope for a better future for her,’ says the parent of a current bursary recipient.
Benenden launching its 'Be the Change' campaign
Last year, Rugby School
celebrated its revolutionary Arnold Foundation programme’s 18th birthday (the fund provides free boarding places to the most deserving candidates), and to mark the event, launched an ambitious ‘Fast Forward 50’ campaign, a pledge to have raised £50 million by 2030 for an endowment that will enable the Foundation to support students in perpetuity, whilst also increasing the number of places offered. There are currently 28 Foundation students at Rugby and its associated prep school Bilton Grange; Fast Forward 50 wants to increase that number to 40.
‘A point which is often overlooked is the benefits to everyone in a school of ensuring open access,’ says Hannah Graydon of Caterham School
, which works closely with the Royal SpringBoard Foundation to offer transformational bursaries. ‘Learning is hugely enriched for all by having a diverse range of people in the classroom, and we are finding more and more that all families want to join our school because they know we take diversity seriously – and they see that as a huge benefit to all.’ We couldn’t agree more.
Want to know more? Read on to find out about a further selection of schools offering means-tested bursary opportunities, and watch this space for our brand-new dedicated bursaries page, launching next term.
NOTE: Although the information below is designed to act as a guide for parents, please always contact the school in the first instance. There is rarely a black and white answer to a bursary-related query, and if a parent meets a required means-tested threshold, it does not necessarily mean they are automatically entitled to a bursary.
Badminton offers means-tested bursaries for UK-based external candidates for entry into the senior school. A pupil does not need to win a scholarship in order to be considered for a bursary. If the fees represent more than around 25 per cent of a family’s combined household income, then they may be considered for a bursary (additional household assets are also taken into account). The school also offers a discount to the children of HM Armed Forces personnel
Benenden is proud to offer bursary support, and candidates no longer require the award of a scholarship in order to qualify. There are four main types of bursary available: the 11+ Fourths Award programme, which offers one or more places to a girl attending a local primary school (with fee remission of up to 100 per cent); the 16+ Founders Award, offering one or more places to a pupil in the sixth form (with fee remission of up to 100 per cent, plus extras); the Continuity of Education Allowance supplement-bursary award, open to children of service or diplomatic parents; and a general bursary-award programme, subject to means-testing at 11+, 12+, 13+, 14+ and 16+.
Bilton Grange welcomes applications from exceptional children whose parents are eligible for means-tested support. The school’s Foundation Awards are run in partnership with Rugby School, and offer fee support of up to 100 per cent for a day pupil living within a 20-mile radius and joining the school in Year 7. The Earle Fund provides funded-boarding places for children in Year 7 who find themselves in challenging circumstances. On an exceptional basis, bursaries are sometimes offered to children from Year 4 upwards. Chorister places are open both to day pupils and boarders from Year 3, with talented pupils receiving music scholarships that can then be augmented by means-tested fee support of up to 100 per cent. The school also offers a generous fee reduction to the children of armed forces families.
Bryanston’s total annual bursary point is between eight to 10 per cent of its fee income. The school takes several factors into consideration when assessing means and uses a professional agency to undertake an initial assessment and make a recommendation to the school. It is also supporting young Ukrainian refugees by offering funded places. It relies on charitable support to fund these bursaries for deserving pupils, and is committed to providing an exciting and enriching future for both current and future pupils. Awards may also be made to relieve hardship where a pupil’s education and prospects are potentially at risk.
Canford is committed to broadening access for prospective pupils and supporting existing families who experience financial hardship. At present, over £1.4 million is offered each year in financial assistance, and at least 35 pupils currently benefit from bursary support of at least 75 per cent. Means-tested bursaries are available to those who can demonstrate a genuine need for support, and can be worth up to 100 per cent of school fees and extras. Pupils who have been awarded a scholarship may also be eligible for additional help with school fees in the form of a means-tested bursary. Additional awards are also available for children of parents serving in the armed forces.
Alongside its general means-tested bursary scheme, Caterham offers a number of more specialised fee-remission schemes, including the William Wilberforce Bursary (worth up to 100 per cent of fees and awarded to a prospective sixth-form pupil from a low-income family); the Enyon Award, awarded to the children of former pupils of Caterham and Eothen Schools; and United Reformed Church Bursaries, available for children of URC clergy for up to 100 per cent of the fees.
Clayesmore awards means-tested bursaries throughout the year. Any financial award is based on a family’s individual circumstances and reviewed annually, with a number of factors including family income, value of assets, investments and savings all taken into consideration. Scholarships and bursaries are not necessarily linked, and the school welcomes applications for bursaries from non-scholars.
Rather than having a set pot, Cranleigh allocates bursary support depending on need and requirement. In order to be considered for a means-tested bursary, a pupil must be awarded a scholarship (academic, sporting or creative arts). Means-tested bursaries are available without a scholarship if a pupil’s parents are in the armed forces. Cranleigh also has a number of Foundationer places available, which offer transformational bursaries to children with significant pastoral need (for example, losing a parent through exceptional or tragic circumstances) who would hugely benefit from the school’s nurturing boarding environment.
DLD College London
The bursary programme at DLD College London is funded by the Gold Standard Charitable Trust and the Alpha Plus Group. Means-tested grants of up to 100 per cent of fees are offered to students who show potential but are unable to afford tuition fees (please note, accommodation costs are not covered). These are available to all students with a British passport, and decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. A student does not need to win a scholarship in order to be considered for a bursary.
Downe House offers up to 100 per cent means-tested bursaries, and last year 22 girls benefited from both full and partial financial awards. Bursaries are available at all points of entry to the school and vary in size depending on the applicant’s family circumstances. The school can also offer an allowance towards various extras. Downe House recently launched its Centenary Day Bursaries, which cover up to 100 per cent of day fees for local pupils.
The school aims to award up to five bursary places to pupils entering Year 4 each year. There are currently 26 bursary recipients in the school, and the award remains in place throughout the child’s time at the Dragon, with the level of fee reduction based on the particular circumstances of each applicant. The school looks at both financial criteria and the onward trajectory of any potential recipient, and the bursary committee will make awards to those most likely to benefit from the opportunities on offer. They also offer discounts on full boarding fees to children of employees of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the UN, and of those who have served in the armed forces.
Edgbaston High School for Girls
Means-tested bursaries can be awarded upon entry into Reception, Year 3, Year 7 and the sixth form. The support available is dependent upon the financial circumstances of parents, and funding is offered towards the cost of tuition fees only. Bursary awards are unlikely to exceed 50 per cent. There is no need for a pupil to win a scholarship in order to be considered for a bursary, but bursaries can be combined with scholarships in cases of need.
Embley Senior School & Sixth Form
Embley offers a limited number of means-tested bursaries to children entering the school in Years 7, 9 and 12. They are awarded on a case-by-case basis and based on both academic ability and financial need. They are reviewed annually. The school does not offer full bursaries, and parents are expected to make some contribution to the fees. Applications from families with a combined income of over £70,000 may not be considered. Emergency bursaries are sometimes also available for parents seeking short-term support, due to circumstances such as sudden unemployment.
Fettes is committed to broadening access by offering means-tested bursaries to pupils entering Year 7 or above. These can cover up to 100 per cent of fees, depending on the financial circumstances of applicants, and a thorough review of a family’s financial circumstances will take place to include income, savings, investments and realisable assets. As bursary funds are limited, priority will be given to those likely to gain the most from the educational provision at Fettes. In Scotland, schools are not permitted to link scholarships to bursaries, and therefore the two remain completely separate.
Godolphin & Latymer
Godolphin & Latymer aims to help families afford the fees via 11+ and 16+ means-tested bursaries. About 10 girls in each year group receive some level of fee assistance, the majority of which are fully funded places. These awards are based on each family’s financial circumstances, and assistance can range from 25 to 110 per cent of fees. The number of awards available varies year on year, but at present the school spends about £1.6 million annually on means-tested bursaries.
Bursaries are available for prospective pupils looking to join the school at 11+, 13+ and 16+. All bursary applications are means-tested and considered on the basis of individual circumstances. Awards are typically between 10 and 50 percent of tuition and boarding fees, although larger bursaries of up to 100 per cent are occasionally offered. Bursaries can be applied for in addition to a scholarship or on their own. Applications for financial support are also considered for pupils already at Heathfield, where there has been a change of family circumstance or sudden and unforeseen financial difficulty.
Bursaries and scholarships are funded from within the school and – in the case of transformational bursaries – are augmented by the Foundation, funded by donations from across the Lancing community. Means-tested financial assistance ranges from 5 to 100 per cent remission of fees, and bursary awards are available to those who meet the general entry requirements and are in receipt of a scholarship award. There is no set financial threshold but the extent of any award is based on a number of factors, including family income, investments and savings and family circumstances. Transformational bursaries cover up to 110 per cent of fees and are awarded to young people in Year 9 and 12 from challenging backgrounds.
Malvern St James Girls’ School
Malvern St James spends more than half a million pounds on means-tested bursaries each year. Bursaries are available to pupils throughout the school (in both the prep and senior), and the school’s bursary pot currently helps more than one in four pupils with fee remission of up to 40 per cent. Pupils do not need to win a scholarship in order to be considered for a bursary. Day girls entering the sixth form can apply for a Founders Award, which can provide fee remission from 40 to 110 per cent. The Elmslie House Award supports a fully funded place in the sixth form for a pupil who has come from the state sector. By 2025, the school aims to quadruple the amount of support available and provide more bursaries of 100 or 110 per cent.
Old Buckenham Hall
OBH offers bursaries to gifted children who could benefit from an education at the school. There is no need for a pupil to win a scholarship in order to be considered. The school aims to offer one new full bursary each academic year, and also has a hardship fund that is designed to help support families experiencing short-term financial difficulty.
Although Papplewick does not have a specific annual bursarial pot, the school offers bursaries in conjunction with scholarship awards. A combined scholarship and bursary award can be worth up to 50 per cent of full fees (15 per cent on scholarship merit, with up to an additional 35 per cent via a means-tested bursary) throughout a boy’s time at the school. The aim is to attract boys who would not otherwise be considering private education. Armed-forces bursaries are also available.
Queen Anne’s School, Caversham
The school is committed to widening access and its bursaries range from 10 to 100 per cent of fees, depending on a family’s circumstances. It takes into account the whole picture of a family’s financial situation, including income, assets and liabilities and whether there is a boarding need. A pupil does not need to receive a scholarship in order to be considered for an award. The school also offers a specific Red Cloak
transformational bursary fund, which covers talented girls’ fees at a minimum of 90 per cent (and in some cases 110 per cent).
Queen’s College London
and Queen’s College Preparatory School
Queen’s College is keen to admit any girl who meets its academic standards, regardless of her financial situation, and a number of means-tested bursaries are available on entry at 4+, 7+, 11+ and 16+. A bursary can provide up to 100 per cent remission of fees, depending on a family’s financial circumstances (the school recently reached its target of having at least 10 per cent of all pupils on full bursaries). All of its bursaries are strictly means-tested via an independent bursary assessor, and although a scholarship will sometimes be offered alongside a bursary, the two rarely go hand in hand. The school also has an ongoing partnership with the Sarah Bonnell school in east London, and offers fully funded sixth-form places to up to four pupils each year.
Rugby’s bursary income is received from restricted and endowed funds. The annual cost of bursaries (not including the Arnold Foundation
, which is funded through donations), is £2.6 million. Pupils do not need to win a scholarship in order to be considered for a bursary. The school’s Foundation Award is aimed at day pupils living within a 20-mile radius of the school and carries a five per cent fee remission (this can increase up to 100 per cent through means-tested bursary assistance), while the new 1823 Bursary Fund will offer means-tested places (of up to 100 per cent of fees and extras) for boys or girls who show significant promise and aptitude for sport and a commitment to rugby.
Prospective parents are encouraged to contact the school’s director of admissions and request a bursary application form at the time of registering. Each case is taken from there, and every application is assessed on an individual basis, dependent on a number of different circumstances.
St George’s School, Ascot
St George’s offers bursarial support of up to 100 per cent of day fees, with the potential to cover boarding costs in exceptional circumstances. Applicants do not need to be in receipt of a scholarship in order to qualify. The school also has access to limited hardship funds for existing families.
Summer Fields is committed to ensuring it is open to the brightest pupils, no matter their personal circumstances. Its Maclaren Foundation awards are means-tested and typically offered to boys showing real potential and looking to join the school in Years 6 or 7. Fee reductions can range from 25 to 100 per cent, and family assets, income, liabilities and lifestyle are all taken into consideration.
Tonbridge offers about £2.8 million in fee remissions each year. Junior Foundation Scholarships are offered in Year 6 (for entry to Tonbridge in Year 9) and are available to boys in maintained primary schools and preparatory schools who might not be able to consider Tonbridge without financial support. Tonbridge also offers means-tested bursary support to scholars if the need is recognised by the school. Scholarships are awarded to boys in Year 8 for entry at Year 9 and are available in sport, music, drama, design technology, art and academia.
Wells Cathedral School
The goal of the school’s bursary programme is twofold: to attract and enrol pupils from diverse backgrounds, and to offer a unique opportunity to deserving pupils whose parents lack the means themselves. Pupils do not need to win a scholarship in order to be considered for a bursary and there is no set income threshold. However, it is expected that families will make their children’s education a financial priority. Wells Cathedral School is one of only four schools in England whose pupils are supported by the Department of Education’s Music and Dance Scheme, which aims to ensure that children with exceptional potential can access world-class specialist training alongside a balanced education, regardless of personal circumstances. Fee remissions are also available for children of the UK armed forces and the clergy.
Whitgift is fully committed to helping families who could not afford the full fees, and through the John Whitgift Foundation, the school devotes over £2 million to bursaries each year. The school has its own charity for bursaries and partnership work, Whitgift For All, and sets aside funds for families struggling with short-term financial hardship. Last year, over 600 Whitgift students received some form of financial assistance, with a growing number benefiting from ‘Headmaster’s Awards’, which cover the fees in full, as well as uniform, a laptop, trips and exam fees. Whitgift also currently supports two refugees and a handful of students with fully-funded full-boarding places via RoyalSpringboard.