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Accessing Private Education I

In the first of our three part blog series looking at affordable access to independent schools, BYT Tutor and former head of Classics at Sussex House James Glasse asks what kind of financial assistance, scholarships and bursaries are available for the children of less affluent parents.

This week James looks at choral scholarships to the Prependal School in Chichester.

As education budgets in the state sector shrink with all the implications for standards, parents are starting to think the unthinkable:

How can we possibly afford a private education for our children?

Yet many hard-pressed families might be surprised at the sort of assistance that is on offer at both primary and secondary level, particularly as independent schools are under increasing pressure to justify their charitable status. An estimated third of UK parents with children in private schools receive financial assistance and the Independent Schools Council’s latest figures show that fee assistance continues to increase, with both the amount available and the number of children who benefit rising. Bursaries are worth more than £700m a year and are provided to 41,000 pupils. 5,400 children pay no fees and 42% of bursary pupils only pay half fees.

Yet what kind of financial assistance, scholarships and bursaries are available for the children of less affluent parents in British schools?

How do parents on lower incomes go about accessing places to independent schools?

Several prep schools in the county offer substantial assistance with fees.

At primary level, the Prebendal School in Chichester offers choir scholarships worth between 50% and 100% of the school fees depending on parents’ circumstances. As the oldest school in Sussex, the Prebendal School has been the choir school of Chichester Cathedral for more than 500 years. Although the school is coeducational, the choir is all male. The Choristers board and sing almost every day in the Cathedral. Choristers start as ‘Probationers’ in Year 3 or 4 (age 7–9), and usually after one year they become full choristers. Chorister scholarships range from a minimum of 50% up to 100% of the school fees. Informal Chorister auditions can be arranged throughout the year for any boys from age 7 and previous experience is not necessary. As well as their singing, the Choristers take a full and active part in the life of the School. They have piano lessons, which are provided free of charge, and each Chorister is expected to learn at least one other instrument. Many choristers go on to win major awards to top schools. According to the Head Master, Tim Cannell:

“73% of our year 8 leavers achieved a range of scholarships and awards to leading schools in 2016.”

Formerly Senior Master at one of London’s leading independent preparatory schools, BYT Tutor James Glasse has been Head of Classics and has taught Latin, English, Mandarin Chinese and humanities at a number of top independent schools. A Mandarin Chinese speaker, he is a published author having written for more than thirty publications including TES Global, the Times, Independent and Guardian and has authored books for the Economist Intelligence Unit and Financial Times Business Information. He has also published numerous management and business related reports on a published and bespoke basis.

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