Scholarships at UK Independent Schools

Everything you need to know about scholarships to UK schools, and a closer look at just how schools are rewarding students’ academic, sporting, musical and artistic achievements.
Scholarships at UK Independent Schools
By Carli Allan
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Who can apply for a scholarship?



While most UK independent schools will offer scholarships based on academic merit, the range of other scholarships is expanding up and down the country. Scholarships are no longer just for academic achievers and A-grade students; there are many specialist scholarships awarded to students who perform exceptionally well in Music, Art, Drama, Design & Technology, and Sport – and plenty more are added each year.

There are also the prestigious All-Rounder scholarships which, as the name suggests, seek out those students who can demonstrate high standards in at least one of the following – Art, Dance, Drama, Music or Sport – as well as academic ability.

Each school has different criteria for awarding scholarships but the general rule of thumb is exceptional talent in a particular discipline. Most scholarship applications will be looking for “high levels of academic attainment and intellectual curiosity” (Academic, King’s Worcester); “excellence and potential in their nominated sports”, as well as physical competency (Sports, Millfield School); and “musical excellence or potential…evidence of ability and true potential is of equal importance to actual examinations passed” (Music, Sedbergh School).

The good news is that most scholarships are held for the duration of a student’s time in the Prep or Senior School, but they will be reviewed annually; students will be expected to continue their specialist studies in disciplines such as art, music or sport up to GCSE, A Level or IB.

Most scholarships are awarded for entry at 11+ (Year 7), 13+ (Year 9) and 16+ (Year 12). While rare, there are scholarships awarded at Prep Schools; for example, Millfield School has Academic, Art, Music and Sports Scholarships for entry into Years 6, 7 and 8.

Your postcode may give you an advantage when applying for a scholarship. Schools including Rugby School offer dedicated academic scholarships to children attending local, state-run schools, while Brighton College’s Opening Doors scholarship is specifically for talented and ambitious young people from the local area who have experienced a significant disadvantage. Others such as Rossall School offer boarding scholarship awards for UK full boarders.

Most scholarships are open to all, though, regardless of which town, borough or city (or even country) you live in.

If you are applying from overseas, take the time to seek out those schools offering dedicated scholarships for overseas students; you may be fortunate enough to qualify for Windermere School’s Westmorland Award – a two-year academic scholarship for international students – for instance. And at Rochester Independent College, there are scholarship awards funded by the Thai government to fully support students through their A Levels.

Next: How do I apply?

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