School fees should not be a barrier to independent education, says Brentwood School

The Essex school is a member of the London Fee Assistance Consortium, which works to highlight the availability of free or subsidised places for would-be pupils

An Essex school is looking to raise awareness of the support available for people who would like to enrol their child at one of the independent schools in and around London, but are dissuaded by the prospect of paying fees.

Brentwood School is one of 31 members of the London Fee Assistance Consortium (LFAC), founded in the early 2000s to highlight the availability of free or subsidised places for would-be pupils who prosper in their entrance exams, but whose families may require assistance in paying the fees.

For those in need of help, Brentwood offers means-tested bursaries for both 11+ and 16+ pupils.

The highest-rated students taking the entrance exam will be assessed for academic scholarships, as well as a broad range of specialist areas including chess, dance, drama, music, art, and sport.

“Challenging misconceptions around the cost of independent education is more important than ever in a post-Covid-19 and lockdown world,” said Brentwood head, Michael Bond.

“We understand that many more families find themselves in financially uncertain circumstances and may wrongly rule out considering an independent education as a possibility.

“Even before the coronavirus pandemic, being able to afford school fees, fearing an unwelcome environment or predicting expensive extras – such as school trips or musical instrument fees – were some of the common misconceptions that prevented children receiving the education they deserved.”

Challenging misconceptions around the cost of independent education is more important than ever – Michael Bond, head of Brentwood School

The Independent Schools Council’s census for 2020 found that a total of 179,536 pupils currently receive help with fees, representing 34% of all children at independent schools.

Eighty-four per cent of total fee assistance is paid directly by the schools themselves.

The total value of over £1bn is an increase of 5.5% on the previous year, a trend set to continue as more schools look to promote the range of help available.

“There can be a view that independent schools are not an option unless you are posh or wealthy,” said David Goodhew, chair of the LFAC. “This is false and prevents lots of families from even considering applying, to the detriment of their children who could benefit from all that our schools have to offer.”


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