Alison Melrose, Headmistress of Prince’s Gardens Preparatory School gives her advice about clinching a prep school scholarship
Scholarships are a way for schools to attract the brightest talent and to celebrate the excellence of their pupils. As well as kudos and a breadth of opportunity, some scholarships also offer an attractive fee remission; so, if you think your child has what it takes then you may want to apply for one. For more advice on how to clinch a highly sought-after prep school scholarship, read on.
Research is key, first of all find out which schools offer scholarships and whether they would be a good fit for your child. Attending the schools’ open days or arranging a private tour is a great way to see what the school has to offer. Whilst you are there make sure to ask about enrichment activities such as clubs and trips as this will not only be a place of learning but somewhere your child will develop key collaborative and communication skills. Ask about destination schools to see how well the school performs, but do keep in mind that some schools have selective entry, and some do not, therefore like-for-like comparison is not always appropriate. Most importantly, ask your child for their feedback and first impressions. If a school feels right to them, this is a good indicator that it will be an environment where they will flourish and thrive, which will support their enthusiasm to apply and hopefully try their best to win the scholarship.
If you have found a school that you and your child are happy with and want to proceed with applying for a scholarship, the next step is to realistically assess whether your child meets the requirements. Different schools have different criteria for awarding scholarships, for example, if the school awards based on academic ability, your child should already be getting excellent grades and school reports. Do not be put off at this point by thinking there are slim chances of your child winning the scholarship. If you think they have really got what it takes, then you most likely have good reason to. Awards are there to be won, so if you are confident in your child’s ability then don’t hesitate to put them forward.
School entrance procedures can be stressful for both parents and children. To mitigate this for your child you can support them with completing practice tests at home. Some parents arrange private tuition or group classes for their children, with many specifically aimed to help children pass entrance exams into independent schools. This may be helpful if your school’s curriculum does not cover reasoning or exam practice. However, a word of caution – teaching to a test does not necessarily help develop a child’s true understanding as to how to apply the knowledge in a broader fashion. School assessments are ever evolving with many schools devising digital assessments and group tasks to review key skills in collaboration and creativity. This can be more difficult to prepare for and helps each school identify children who have been overly tutored which could be detrimental to your application. Trust the feedback from your child’s current school and work with the staff to support your child through the process. If your child needs a huge amount of tutoring and support to get in to a school, consider how they will fare once a place is gained, and the support is withdrawn.
My next tip sounds simple but is very important: be diligent about the application process. Put all the deadlines for applications and assessment dates in your diary so that you do not miss them. If the school requires any documentation, for example a reference from your child’s current school, ensure you allow plenty of time to provide this.
In the lead up to the assessment make sure your child is not being put under any stress. If they’re worrying too much about achieving the scholarship, their wellbeing and cognitive ability will be impacted. Check that they’re getting enough sleep and exercising regularly in the lead up to the assessment. Ensure that they understand that all you are asking is that they try their best and enjoy the experience of visiting a different school. Winning the scholarship is not the be all and end all.
If your child is not awarded a scholarship, do not give up. A school may well offer you a place without a scholarship and if the financial benefits were the draw, a confidential bursary application can often be made to support with school fees. If an application at 7+ is not successful there will opportunities to apply again in the future and the experience will have been a good grounding.
Prince’s Gardens Preparatory School, a new independent school in Kensington for boys and girls aged 3-11 which is opening in September 2020 awards scholarships to children who perform particularly well in their 7+ or 8+ assessments. These will grant the students a 20% fee remission. Register with the school by 13thDecember 2019.
The deadline for acceptance of all 7+ and Year 8+ places is midday Friday 7th February 2020. To learn more head over to our website: https://www.princesgardensprep.co.uk/.