Help with meeting costs of private school education

Many parents will rule out fee-paying schools for their children because of the costs involved. 

But most independent schools, often known as private schools, will offer financial assistance in the form of scholarships or bursaries for pupils. 

Fee-paying schools tend to have small class sizes, excellent exam results and a good record of entry to top universities. Many devote a significant amount of time to cultural activities, like art, drama and music, and most offer a wide variety of sporting opportunities.

They also offer more teachers per 100 pupils, pastoral care and provision for special needs. 

Scholarship and bursary applicants will usually need to prove that they are very able and demonstrate the need for monetary support.

It is estimated that almost a third of pupils educated in the private sector receive some form of financial assistance in the form of a scholarship or bursary. 

Not only do schools want to attract most talented students, but many are also realising that  having a broad social mix which reflects our society is incredibly important. This is why many have funding available for pupils whose families are on lower incomes.

According to the Independent Schools Council, the total value of means-tested bursaries and scholarships provided by schools has increased by over £195m since 2011, and currently stands at £455m per year.

Scholarships are not usually meanstested but instead based on the child’s abilities in a particular area. 

They are usually available to pupils who are very strong either academically, or in music, sport or art. 


The Indepenent Schools Council website allows you to search by school fee assistance and other requirements too such as location, age range, day and boarding. 

Once you have  located a school, contact the admissions office to find out what financial support is available n If you child will be applying for a bursary, it’s worth checking what information such as financial records you will need to provide. 

Some scholarships offer other benefits such as extra coaching or tuition, additional trips, tours and mentoring for the duration of the pupil’s time at the school. Bursaries are means-assessed on a financial basis and will require a parent or guardian to complete a declaration to establish whether the student meets the necessary criteria.

This is usually re-assessed each year that the bursary is required. The school looks at what it is reasonable for you to afford and sets a fee accordingly.

Some schools are able to offer greater bursary provision than others and they can cover up  to 100 per cent of fees.

They can also help with costs which are not included in the normal school fee, such as uniform and school trips. 

There are also charitable grant-making trusts which can help offer financial support to those who need it.

They include The Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation which provides bursaries to help disadvantaged children attend state or independent boarding schools.

Both scholarships and bursaries can be awarded to children at the same time. 

For more information about the different types of support available, visit