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What are scholarships and who are they for?

Scholarships can often be a grey area, especially if you are not familiar with independent education. Bryanston’s former Director of Admissions, Anne Megdiche provides a simple overview of what they entail and why pupils should apply for them.

Is my child good enough? What’s involved? Is it too much pressure? Who are they for?
While scholarships are open to all, there are usually two main reasons why a pupil would sit one: either the pupil is talented in a specific area and wishes to have the prestige that being a scholar affords, or it is seen as a way to secure fee remission to enable them to attend the school.
Scholarship options and their actual benefits will vary hugely from school to school. For some, they will be honorary only, while other schools will offer substantial fee remission. However, in most schools, scholarships can be augmented by means-tested bursaries, offering opportunities at an independent school that might otherwise be unaffordable.
Your child’s current school is usually the best starting point to decide if a scholarship is the most appropriate route of entry for your child. A discussion with the Head will give you a good indication of whether your child would be suitable to apply for a scholarship (or scholarships), and which would be best suited to them. Their current school will also know if your child would be able to cope, not only with the scholarship assessment process, but also with the mantle that being a scholar can bring. Equally, they will know whether their pupil can realistically manage personal expectations and has the wherewithal not to have their confidence dented if they are not awarded a scholarship.
The primary benefit of a scholarship, for some, will be the financial. Currently, Bryanston scholarships offer fee remission of up to 25%, and this can be further enhanced by means-tested bursaries for those who require it. However, even if this is the primary benefit, it isn’t just parents who should benefit from a scholarship!  Scholars themselves receive specialist support in their subject, over and above that which is available to all pupils, and will be expected to be a positive and driving force within their area(s) of expertise. At Bryanston, music scholars receive free music lessons, Alexander Technique and a weekly accompaniment lesson, very much in line with specialist music schools, but they will also be involved in a wide variety of musical performances within school and the wider community. They need to show commitment, no matter how tired or busy they are, and will need to take ownership of their practice. Sportscholars will benefit from our Performance Sport Programme (PSP), but they will also regularly represent the school or their county, and perhaps even nation, in sporting events. Training as we all know can be tough and your child may sustain injuries but, even when not playing, they will still support their team’s cause. In all areas, scholars are encouraged to lead by example, and they are given the tools to do this.
Scholarships are highly competitive, more and more so each year, and if you enter your child for a scholarship you must be clear that your child is robust enough to cope with not receiving an award. You cannot ‘fail’ a scholarship, but the majority of those who apply are likely to be unsuccessful; your child must be in a position to understand this crucial difference. So much of any attempt is down to their performance and attitude on the day, and we all have bad days! However, not being awarded a scholarship will not exclude them from accessing bursarial support, if required, and the school does its best to support pupils who will be an asset to the school community.
I often find myself telling prospective scholars that by simply attending the assessment days they are already winners. They have been prepared to stick their heads above the parapet and take a risk – even if they are not awarded a scholarship, they have shown us what they are capable of and will be firmly on the radar when they start. Scholarships should be seen as an opportunity for pupils to throw their hat into the ring, irrespective of the outcome, and our aim is to make the assessment day(s) as much fun as possible. 
I would therefore say to any pupil considering a scholarship: ‘If you’re up for a challenge, give it a go. This really is a case of nothing ventured, nothing gained, and you won’t know until you try.’
Find out more information about scholarships at Bryanston.
Tagged  Admissions