Cumnor House School is an Independent Preparatory School which receives no financial support from the Government. Parents are charged a termly fee to cover the cost of running the school. As an educational charity, any surplus generated is reinvested in the School, and as such there are limited resources available for other charitable purposes. Notwithstanding that, the Governors are committed to broadening access to the School by offering means-tested financial support in the form of bursaries to eligible parents or guardians to assist with the payment of tuition fees. The Headmaster is responsible for processing bursaries within financial limits set by the Governors, at whose ultimate discretion all awards are made.
There are three types of bursaries available from the School.
1. FOUNDATION BURSARIES.
The Governors offer one Foundation Bursary of up to 100% of the basic tuition fee for the duration of a child’s education at Cumnor House School. Foundation Bursaries have been created to assist families who otherwise would not be able to consider an education at the school. Anyone can apply for a Foundation Bursary but will have to demonstrate a genuine need for financial assistance. The School is only able to fund one 100% Foundation Bursary at any one time.
2. HARDSHIP BURSARIES.
When considering private education, parents should be prepared for the considerable long term financial commitment that this entails. However the school is sympathetic to cases of genuine and unforeseen financial hardship. To receive a hardship bursary parents will have to demonstrate a genuine need for financial assistance.
3. MUSIC BURSARIES.
The school encourages musical excellence and awards bursaries to those children who have passed distinction at Grade 4 or a pass at Grade 5 (piano and string instruments) or distinction at Grade 5 or a pass at Grade 6 (brass, wind instruments, drums and vocal). The level of bursary will be dependent upon the standard achieved. In addition younger children with particular musical talent, as assessed by the School, will also be eligible for annually reviewed music bursaries.
Financial support in the form of means-tested bursaries is available for parents who for some unexpected reason are unable to afford the standard fees. To receive a means-tested bursary parents will have to demonstrate a genuine need for financial assistance. Requests for such support would be likely to emerge in a case where, due to a change in circumstances, there are difficulties meeting the tuition fees of existing pupils which might lead to the child being withdrawn at a critical stage of his/her education.
The Governors set the amount of funds available for bursaries based on the financial health of the School and the approved charitable benefit. The Headmaster works within these limits liaising with the Governors as appropriate. The approved bursaries and funds available to support them are reviewed by the Governors on a termly basis.
THE CASE FOR ASSISTANCE
As bursarial funds are limited, the School operates a system for prioritising competing claims for support. Though bursaries are primarily awarded based on financial circumstances, they may be varied depending on other factors such as:
In assessing a child’s suitability, attention will be given to the achievements and potential in their particular field of excellence and evidence of good behaviour. Those judged likely to gain most from the educational provision will be given priority. In general, each pupil to whom support is offered must, in the opinion of the Headmaster, be likely to make sound all-round progress and possess the potential to develop the quality of his or her work, and benefit from all the activities on offer at the School.
The amount of a bursarial award is primarily influenced by the extent of need. Each case is assessed on its own merits and awards are made accordingly, subject to the School’s ability to fund these within the overall budget. It is recognised that judgements about what sacrifices a family should make to pay school fees will be personal, but the School has a duty to ensure that all awards do represent the best use of charitable funds and so, as well as current earnings, other factors which will be considered in determining the necessary level of grant will include:
- The ability to improve the financial position or earning power of the family. For example, where there are two parents, both would be expected to be employed unless one is prevented from doing so through incapacity, the need to care for children under school age or other dependents, or the requirements of their partner’s work.
- Opportunities to release any capital. Significant capital savings and investments would be expected to be used for the payment of fees, as would equity values in houses.
- In cases of separation, the contribution made by and the means of the absent parent.
- Contribution to school fees or household costs by other, wider, family members, by any adults unrelated to the child, or by outside sources such as trusts.
- Bursaries from other schools. Where fees are being paid to other (senior) schools the grant may take into account these outgoings. However, it will be assumed that an equivalent level of bursarial support will be provided by the other schools involved.
- Outwardly extravagant personal expenditure. For example (and acknowledging that others may have a different view) the School considers that the following would not be consistent with the receipt of a bursary:
- Frequent or expensive holidays
- New or luxury cars
- Investment in significant home improvements
- A second property or land holdings.
It is recognised that, in addition to academic ability and financial constraints, there may be other circumstances which should be considered. These include:
- Where a child has siblings at the School.
- Where the social needs of the child are relevant.
- Where a parent/guardian is terminally ill or is unable to secure permanent employment due to poor health.
- Where a separation might result in the child having to be withdrawn from the School, adding to the stress of coping with the parents separating.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
Bursaries may be made available to parents/guardians for children at any stage of their education at the School. They are granted at the discretion of the Governors, and the Headmaster and Bursar are responsible for the management and co-ordination of the process.
- Step One. Parents/guardians seeking a bursary should approach the Headmaster. They will be required to complete a comprehensive means-testing form which seeks to establish the financial circumstances of the household. The form, which requests details of income and capital, is available from the Bursar and must be accompanied by full documentary evidence. The completed form, together with the necessary documentary evidence, is to be submitted to the Bursar.
- Step Two. The Bursar assesses all applications to establish the likely level of support which will be required. This may involve the Bursar, or his representative, visiting the parents/guardians` home to ensure the information has been correctly interpreted and the basis of the financial assessment is fair.
- Step Three. The Headmaster reviews each application in conjunction with all other bursaries and available funding and determines the right level of support in each case consulting with the Governors as appropriate.
- Step Four. Applicants are advised of the School’s decision by letter from the Headmaster. Any bursary offer will be provisional subject to the receipt of up-to-date financial information (including tax returns for the current year).
- Step Five. The parents/guardians are required to acknowledge the letter accepting the bursary, agreeing to confidentiality and any conditions relating to it.
- Step Six. All bursaries and the funds available for them are discussed by the Governors on a termly basis and a full review is conducted annually.
All bursary awards are subject to repeat financial means-testing annually and may be varied upwards or downwards depending on parental circumstances. Current bursary holders will be reissued with the means-testing forms at the beginning of the Summer Term each year for return by the end of that term. The Headmaster, in consultation with the Governors, has the discretion to reduce or withdraw an award, not only where a pupil’s progress, attitude or behaviour has been unsatisfactory, but also where the parents/guardians have failed to support the School, for example by the late payment of any contribution they are making to the fees.
The School respects the confidentiality of personal financial information and the bursary awards made, and recipients are required to do likewise.
INFORMATION AVAILABLE ON BURSARIES
Information provided by the School on the availability and provision of bursaries is included in the Prospectus and on the website.
OTHER SOURCES OF BURSARY ASSISTANCE
In addition to the School’s bursary fund, there are a number of educational and charitable trusts which provide assistance with tuition fees. In the majority of cases, these are to assist children who are already attending a fee-paying school and, due to a change of circumstances, may be unable to remain. The School encourages parents/guardians to apply for support where it is felt a good case can be made for assistance. Further information on how to pursue such assistance may be obtained from:
The Educational Trusts Forum: www.educational-grants.org
The Joint Educational Trust: www.jetcharity.org