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Should your child sit a scholarship?

Many parents are faced with the question: should their child sit a scholarship? With little financial incentive to do so these days, we find out from Jim Hewer at Heritage Education whether the benefits outweigh the challenges and if taking the scholarship path could be the right choice for your child.

Finding the most suitable academic environment for your child is of paramount importance as you journey through your son or daughter’s school career. At Prep School one must trust that the school is genuinely preparing your child for their senior schools on a multitude of different levels; academically, emotionally, physically, artistically, and spiritually.

Scholarship setting will usually start at your prep school from Y6. At this stage staff at the school will know the academic profile and potential of the individuals in question. These conversations should happen as part of your future schools discussions with the Head during Y5.

Which type of child is most suited to scholarship?

There is a lot to be said for making sure that every child is challenged in the classroom. For some they will need to be extended and stretched beyond the level that is normal for most students. These are the ideal candidates for a scholarship pathway. Children who relish being challenged academically, have a thirst for learning and thinking beyond the obvious and have a different approach to academic work.

We believe that the system works well as long as the candidate’s family are fully aware of the rigours of the scholarship pathway and agree that the candidate themselves are robust enough and academically curious enough to put in all the extra work to tackle the more challenging content of the scholarship programme.

How can your prep school help you make the decision?

Aligning the candidate with the most appropriate senior school is definitely the most important thing to settle on at the outset so that the route can be set out early and the pathway defined.

It is obvious to say that a scholar to one particular school would not necessarily make a scholar at another. The academic expectations will vary to some degree, so it does come down to good communication with the Head at the Prep School so that they can guide you to your best options.

The scholarship route does have its attractions. It demonstrates the academic clout of the prep school and the academic prowess of the individual candidate. It is impressive to see prep schools with honours boards full of names of successful candidates who have won scholarships to a number of prestigious senior schools and it is rewarding for the candidates themselves when they are recognised with such an award.

How do you know if your child is eligible?

In the vast majority of cases the decision will be led by expert advice from Heads of prep schools on whether your child is a genuine candidate. As long as it is driven from this standpoint then I think that finding a path for your child that is challenging, motivating and confidence boosting is the right one. It comes down to understanding what drives your child and this should come from a combination of your understanding of your child and the prep school itself.

There are obviously scholarships for an array of different areas – academic, drama, art, music, sporting and all-rounders awards. Understanding the expectations for these different scholars once they arrive at the senior school is another major consideration.  Is your child absolutely passionate about the area of school life that they have won a scholarship for? If they are a music scholar, for example, there will be expectations on your child to be contributing to the music programme at the school. Do you, as parents, fully understand what level of contribution your child will have to make once they get there? This will apply to any discipline that your child has won a scholarship for, whether it be music, art, sports etc.

What is the financial reward of winning a scholarship?

Scholarships to senior schools do result in a reduction in school fees, roughly between 5-10% is typical. In many cases, quite rightly, schools will favour holding onto their cash reserves in order to award a means tested bursary to families that could not otherwise afford the school fees. So, in more recent times this means that scholarships do not reward the recipient in the same way that they used to in years gone by.

What does this mean?

This means that if you want your child to sit for a scholarship then he/she really has to want to do it! Think about the ramifications of what this actually means in terms of impact on your child’s school life both at prep and senior schools. Identify whether this is your child’s true passion – whether it be academics, music, art, sport etc. If it is and your child has the resilience, support and ambition then the process will be extremely rewarding and could be the absolute making of them. If you are not sure then it would make sense to seek some advice on this by speaking to the Head of your prep school or taking some independent advice from one of our many experts.

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