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ISC schools are committed to widening access and are keen to encourage children, whatever their background, to come and learn with us.

Although many ISC schools are run at cost and do not make a profit, many are now able to offer bursaries and fee assistance, so that one in four pupils at ISC schools receive help with their fees from the school. Fee assistance provided by ISC schools is worth a total value of over £1 billion, an increase of 6% compared to last year.

Schools give more than twice as much in means-tested bursaries and scholarships than scholarships that are not means-tested. Bursaries are awarded to nearly 42,000 pupils in our schools and are worth an average of £9,634 per pupil per year. 

Over 6,100 children pay no fees at all and 45% of bursary pupils only pay half their fees.

Many ISC schools have launched their own bursary fundraising campaigns, calling on alumni and parents past and present to contribute. Some are aiming to be able to offer more than 25% of places as fully-funded bursary places – others are hoping to become 'needs-blind', which means that whichever child would benefit from going to the school would be able to have a place, irrespective of their family income.

What are bursaries?

Bursaries are fees reductions not attached to specific talents but enabling a pupil to attend the school when he or she would not have otherwise done so. Means-tested bursaries are the norm. These require parents to fill in a form declaring income and assets so that means (ability to pay full fees) can be calculated and the percentage fees reduction determined. Schools will make a discount offer to the parents based on this test of means.

Do independent schools have to provide bursaries?

Independent schools which are charitable trusts must demonstrate public benefit. The law says that the Trustees of a charity should decide how the charity demonstrates that it benefits the public at large rather than exclusively those who pay for services. Some charitable trust schools choose to demonstrate their public benefit by providing a level of bursary assistance or free places. Others demonstrate public benefit in other ways. Some schools which are not charities but are limited companies choose to provide bursaries, too, suggesting that they do it purely for the sake of opening access to children who might not otherwise attend.

Search for schools offering bursaries

The ISC website's school search allows parents to search for schools based on the types scholarships and bursaries they offer.