Wondering whether it is worth your child applying for a scholarship to an independent school? Find out more about how schools award scholarships, and how your child may be a suitable candidate.
What is a scholarship?
Good schools always want to attract the most able pupils and are willing to offer financial assistance to entice the parents of gifted children. They may be awarded to those who excel academically, or who are gifted in other areas such as sport, music or drama.
Some schools offer scholarships covering 100 per cent of fees, but these are few and far between. In general, most scholarships are worth 20 to 40 per cent of the annual fees.
Children who receive scholarships are usually expected to continue to demonstrate that they’re deserving of the award and if your child’s effort or performance drops, they may lose their award.
Schools are not looking for the finished article and will be aware that not every student is fortunate enough to have had access to the same opportunities. Spotting a child with the potential to excel is key, and often the most rewarding part of their job. Schools set scholarship questions carefully on entrance exams so that they don’t test prior knowledge, but how a child’s mind works. Scholarship questions are often at the back of the examination paper and so your child will need to speed through the early part of the paper to have a crack at the scholarship questions at all.
The following pointers are what in our view differentiates candidates:
A curious mind
A scholar will be keen to delve into a subject beyond the curriculum and tend to have an excellent knowledge base. Exploration of a topic, not rote learning will be their thing.
Always eager to make the effort
Potential scholars will put extra time in because they really enjoy their learning. They tend to be self-motivated and determined to always produce their best work.
Embraces any opportunity to improve
Scholars are a determined lot and tend to approach difficult challenges with tenacity and learn quickly from mistakes.
Sits comfortably in the top sets at primary or prep school
A potential scholar would often score more than 130 in cognitive ability tests (which generate standardised scores), and this would be reflected across their academic work.
Sets the bar high in their field
Schools awarding scholarships are looking for candidates who stand out, for example, a music scholar might be expected to be Grade 5 in at least one subject, and a Sports candidate playing at either county or regional standard. Academic scholars will be expected to be avid readers, with a distinct set of interests.
Has a passion
A scholar will often submerge themselves in something they are passionate about and deep dive into their favourite subjects.
It’s important to be realistic about your child’s chances. They may be in the top set at state primary school, but they will be up against others who are equally bright, or brighter and will have benefited from tuition. Always approach exams with a ‘let’s give it a go’ attitude and avoid putting too much pressure on your child.