Parent's Success Story
My thoughts on supporting my children through scholarship applications
Elizabeth, mother of two children who won awards
"It is definitely important to support your child so that they get the best balance between taking the assessments seriously and trying their best but not getting too stressed by the situation.
My son did an art scholarship. There was quite a lot of work to be done and presented but my son was already painting a lot. He was very interested in art so did not find the process of preparation pressurised. It is worth bearing in mind that a considerable volume of work must be completed for the portfolio, so your child will need good support from you and from their art teacher.
The prep school suggested the art scholarship at least a year before the assessment, so that gave my son plenty of time to start collecting work and time to produce a sketch book. He is an arty person so it was easy to encourage him.
He did have obligations linked to being a scholar. He needed to get reasonable GCSEs and reach a good standard in his art work. Schools do say that they might take scholarships away if children who have been awarded them do not keep up a good level of work.
My daughter was awarded an academic scholarship and she was often required to show parents around the school, sometimes missing important things that her classmates were doing. She was certainly under an obligation to give a good impression for the school.
I noticed that music scholars at the school played at every occasion, such as the Old Boys’/Girls’ day and all the school events and were featured on the website all the time too. So they do need to be very committed to the school and to carrying out their duties.
I suggest it is a good thing to let the schools know you are applying for various scholarships as they may fight for you if you are a good scholarship candidate who would enhance their school. Your position is not so strong if the school knows you will take up a place whether you get a scholarship or not. I think they may give preference to other children for the scholarship, who might not go to the school if they did not win an award.
Do make sure you collect all your child’s certificates for sport or music or whatever they are applying for. I made files for my children and slotted in all their certificates and other trophies over the years.
If you work at the school, it is usually possible to get a reduction in the school fees and this can apply even if your job is quite menial, such as a cleaning job. But schools do vary as to which employees they give reductions to and how much those are, so it is worth exploring in detail. You might be able to get a job as a matron, teaching assistant or teacher etc.
For the academic scholarship, I found the ongoing work in years 7 and 8 for my daughter was quite high powered, so by the time it came to the academic assessments, she was very well prepared and the exams did not seem as bad as they might have done otherwise. There was some stress but it was not overwhelming.
It is definitely a good idea to ensure your child is well presented for the interview. I suggest giving them a home interview or asking their present school to do a mock interview. It helps them to feel less nervous when they get to the real thing.
I advise getting practice papers online for verbal and non-verbal reasoning. Again, if your child has practised, then the real exams will be less daunting and easier for them to do well in.
It is important to discuss the possibility of failure. Your child can only do their best and it may be that they are out performed by other children on the day. Or they may just be having an off day. Inevitably some of the applicants will be awarded a scholarship and others will not and there is no shame in not being selected.
It is not always easy to know what schools are looking for and this can put more pressure on parents. It is important that you, as a parent, keep calm so as not to stress your child.
How difficult it is to be successful in any scholarship application will depend on which school you apply for. Some more prestigious schools have very high academic levels, competition will be very strong and it will be hard to win an award. You have to be realistic as a parent, if your child is good academically but not brilliant, it would be better for them to apply for an academic award at a school with lower academic levels.
We were able to choose the best schools for our children and think about the scholarships afterwards. I know not all parents are in this position.
The most important thing is to prepare your children well. If they have covered all the necessary practical work and they are ready to chat openly about their interests and present well for interview, you have done all that you can. Good luck!"