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What are scholarships and bursaries?

"I joined the school at age 11. Every day was an adventure, I never looked back. I enjoyed the sport, house social activities and the open fresh air. I even enjoyed learning. My house parents believed in me and encouraged me to achieve. Kingham gave me a family, a home and my faith. It also gave me the interpersonal skills, confidence and independence required to move on with my life." Boarding pupil on a bursary at Kingham Hill School


Many ISC schools have fundraising programmes so that they can offer more help to hard working families who may not otherwise be able to afford the fees.

According to the latest annual ISC Census, £440 million was provided in means-tested fee assistance for pupils at ISC schools. Nearly half of all pupils on means-tested bursaries have more than half of their fees remitted. The total value of means-tested bursaries and scholarships has increased by £175m since 2011.

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. At Christ’s Hospital School in Sussex, a boarding school, most of the pupils are on greatly reduced fees or pay nothing at all.

The details of fee assistance will always be found on the schools’ websites. If anything is not clear, ring the school’s admissions office.

Some schools require you to apply for a place a long time in advance, others don’t. Again, you need to check the details on school websites.

Schools have different age points of entry such as age 5, 7, 11, 13, and 16. The numbers of bursaries and scholarships on offer vary according to age of entry but tend to be more numerous for older pupils.

For families with low incomes, some schools have a fund which contributes to the costs of extras such as uniform, books and school trips.

There are 44,395 pupils on means-tested assistance at ISC schools.


Scholarships are also available for pupils who are particularly strong either academically, or in music, sport or art. Both scholarships and bursaries can be awarded to children at the same time.

Parents or guardians should contact the admissions department of the individual schools you are interested in, as schools will have their own fee assistance programmes. To find schools with financial assistance options, you can use the ISC ‘School Search’. When looking on a school's website, information about bursaries is likely to be on the ‘Bursaries and Scholarships’ page, often in the ‘Admissions’ section.

Scholarships are also available for pupils who are particularly talented.