Hertfordshire’s independent schools: applying for scholarships and bursaries

St Columba's College

St Columba's College - Credit: submitted

With many schools offering pupils scholarships and bursaries, we asked top Herts independents about the role they play in school life

St Francis' College, Letchworth

St Francis' College, Letchworth - Credit: submitted

Abbot’s Hill School

Bunkers Lane, Hemel Hempstead HP3 8RP


Established: 1912

Pupils: 510

Age: Six months-16

Boarding/day: Day

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Girls/boys: Co-ed day nursery and pre-school, girls four-16

Many independent schools offer financial inducements to recruit pupils who will enhance their reputation and achievements. Bursaries can attract bright or talented children from less well-off families and contribute to a wider social mix, good academic results or enhanced talent. They are means-tested and vary in value.

Scholarships can encourage the enrolment of pupils with particular talents and abilities, such as academia, sport, art, drama and music. They are usually very competitive, often modest financially and sometimes purely honorary. Being awarded a scholarship can be a huge confidence boost for a pupil, as well as providing access to a range of opportunities and experiences that will enable the recipient to further develop their particular talents. Scholarships come with an expectation that the pupil awarded one will commit to making a significant contribution to the life of their school. They can also indicate to future educational establishments and employers that the holder can be expected to perform well in a competitive environment.


Berkhamsted School

Overton House, 131 High Street, Berkhamsted HP4 2DJ


Established: 1541

Pupils: 1,742

Ages: Three-18

Boarding/day: Both

Girls/boys: Co-ed

With an established reputation for producing excellent academic results as well as delivering an enviable breadth of educational experiences, Berkhamsted School strives to enrich the school community by attracting both pupils and staff with a wide range of talents.

Scholarships, sometimes supported by means-tested bursaries, enable Berkhamsted to recruit new pupils who will contribute to the outstanding academic, musical, dramatic, artistic and sporting life of the School.

Our expectations of scholars are high and our hope is they will develop their talents and take advantage of the many opportunities we have on offer at Berkhamsted. These opportunities include drama productions (including a sixth-form production performed at Edinburgh Festival Fringe every couple of years), an Actor of the Year competition, a Music Scholars’ Concert and a host of other musical occasions, an annual art exhibition featuring the work of art scholars, and high-profile fixtures across a range of sports. Debating and a selection of academic clubs and societies are available to stretch academic scholars.

Academic and music scholarships are available on entry to Year 5 and, in addition to this, art, drama, music and sport scholarships from Year 7.


St Edmund’s College & Prep

Old Hall Green nr Ware SG11 1DS


Established: 1568

Pupils: 820

Ages: Three-18

Boarding/day: Nursery-Year 6 day, Year 7-13 both

Girls/boys: Co-ed

Through our scholarship programme we seek to encourage children with academic, sporting, artistic, musical and ‘all round’ abilities to attend St Edmund’s College and Prep. Scholarships are available at 7-plus, 11-plus, 13-plus and 16-plus. Scholars are expected to take a lead and set an example in the areas where their particular talents have been recognised. Academic scholars are invited to join the Gifted and Talented programme where there is regular review and monitoring. All scholars are expected to be excellent role models in and outside the school ensuring that standards are kept high.

We are proud to also be able to offer a limited number of bursaries to students who may not otherwise be able to take advantage of a Catholic education at St Edmund’s.


Lochinver House School

Heath Road, Little Heath, Potters Bar EN6 1LW


Established: 1947

Pupils: 350

Ages: Four-13

Boarding/day: Pre-prep-13 day

Girls/boys: Boys

Lochinver House School takes its social responsibility seriously by offering families means-tested bursaries to make accessible the all-round education, facilities and opportunities that we have to offer. We work to provide every pupil with an excellent academic start, characterised by variety, challenge and stretch. This is woven into a programme providing great opportunities in sport, music, art, design, drama and outdoor learning. This breadth, in turn, enriches the boys’ confidence and capacity as learners. We want our boys to feel stimulated and excited by what they discover each day. Our fees are very inclusive so that those receiving bursaries can confidently partake in the fullest range of Lochinver opportunity, whether residential curriculum trips, participation in activities or membership of teams and organisations. A great education is the one gift no one can take away from you. Many of our pupils achieve scholarships to their senior schools. To my own children, who have been recipients of means-tested bursaries at independent schools, I have said, ‘work hard, seize every opportunity and keep as many doors open as you can.’ Lochinver is keen to open its doors to those who may wish to join us.


Princess Helena College

School Lane, Preston nr Hitchin SG4 7RT


Established: 1820

Pupils: 200

Ages: 11-18

Boarding/day: Both

Girls/boys: Girls

We expect all our girls to aim high, and our examination results demonstrate how they consistently not only succeed, but exceed expectations. As well as excellent teaching, bursaries and scholarships are instrumental in this.

We offer bursaries for families whose capable, talented daughters merit a place, but who need financial support to access a first-class education. Scholarships are awarded to girls who have the potential for academic excellence or outstanding achievements in creative areas.

To help scholars realise their potential for excellence, they participate in individually tailored progression plans that cater for each girl’s particular gifts, interests and talents. These include extension and extra-curricular activities, such as trips to relevant venues and invitations to meet guest speakers. These extension activities are also accessible to non-scholars who demonstrate particular aptitudes. Scholars are encouraged to share their achievements and enthusiasm for learning, which inspires all our girls to aim high and helps to create the environment we foster at PHC, one that prizes academia and says ‘It’s cool to learn and to strive for excellence’.


Westbrook Hay

London Road, Hemel Hempstead HP1 2RF


Established: 1892

Pupils: 300

Ages: Three-13

Boarding/day: Both

Girls/boys: Co-ed

This year has been quite remarkable for our Year 8 boys. Not only have they gelled to be a very effective group of prefects, but they have returned an incredible haul of scholarships, with some gaining places and offers of awards at multiple schools. In purely statistical terms, this has been our best ever year, but what makes the success even sweeter is the memory of when they were in Year 6, where their academic potential was less obvious. They have proved, beyond any doubt, that the journey we take our senior boys on is a rewarding and exciting one – where they blossom at the top of the school and leave us in the best possible shape, ready for the challenge of senior school.

Our Year 6 girls have also made us very proud. They leave to a range of schools, where their evident talents will continue to develop and skills we have nurtured here will give them all opportunities for success.


Lockers Park

Lockers Park Lane, Hemel Hempstead HP1 1T


Established: 1874

Pupils: 165

Ages: Four-13

Boarding/day: Both

Girls/boys: Co-ed pre-prep; boys prep

Scholarships and bursaries add to the richness and diversity of school life at Lockers Park. In recognition of its charitable status, the school endeavours to support as many pupils from as many different backgrounds as it can, ensuring a Lockers Park education is accessible to able children.

Lockers Park offers a range of scholarships (ademic, musical, sporting or all-round ability) and bursaries to boys who demonstrate talent, achievement and ability. Potential scholars should be naturally curious, possess a thirst for learning and have academic levels above the norm, as well as be able to contribute enthusiastically within the school community.

Once at Lockers Park, these pupils benefit from all aspects of school life. The progressive, motivational environment offers high quality teaching, small class sizes and structured sport daily alongside a full, vibrant programme of extra-curricular activities to ensure pupils thrive as individuals. Above all, the school aims to ensure boys leave with the confidence, resilience and self-esteem needed to become successful young men.


Tring Park School for the Performing Arts

Mansion Drive, Tring HP23 5LX


Established: 1945

Pupils: 335

Ages: Eight-19

Boarding/day: Both

Girls/boys: Co-ed

Tring Park is one of the UK’s top performing arts schools, counting actors who are huge household names such as Lily James and Daisy Ridley among its past students.

However, it also boasts the likes of Olivier-award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie as an ex-student and, as it has its roots in dance, it is very keen to encourage the dancers of the future to the school, whatever the financial means of this talent. This is why the school runs a music and dance scheme, awarding a large number of dance bursaries for talented dancers from age 11.

The school also offers a more limited number of scholarships for acting, musical theatre and commercial music as well as further means-tested bursaries in these disciplines. All interested applicants have to pass a first audition and then some will be called back for a scholarship audition which is usually held in early March.


St Columba’s College

King Harry Lane, St Albans AL3 4AW


Established: 1939

Pupils: 840

Ages: Four-18

Boarding/day: Day

Girls/boys: Boys

St Columba’s is an HMC Independent Catholic day school for boys and the school offers both scholarships and bursaries. Academic excellence is a foundation stone of the college’s life and the college seeks to recognise and encourage it. Accordingly, all scholarships are dependent upon high academic performance. Candidates who perform at a high level in the entrance tests at 11-plus and 13-plus will be considered for a major or minor scholarship. Music scholarships are also available and sports scholarships are available to boys entering the sixth-form.

St Columba’s College offers a number of bursaries, up to the value of the full fee, to Roman Catholic boys, who will enter Prep 3 (Year 3) or Form 1 (Year 7).

In September each year, the college accepts applications for the following September. Applications should be made in writing to Brother Daniel St Jacques, Dean, St Columba’s College or by email at counsellor@stcolumbascollege.org


St Francis’ College

Broadway, Letchworth SG6 3PJ


Established: 1933

Pupils: 410

Ages: Three-18

Boarding/day: Both

Girls/boys: Girls

St Francis’ College offers a number of scholarships for girls from Year 3 upwards, these are open to both internal and external applicants. Scholarships are an important part of school life, they allow students with aptitude and flair for a certain subject to have that talent recognised, while at the same time be given responsibilities for promoting their subject within the school community. A scholarship award is far more than a title – it is the breadth and depth of the programme of opportunity and enrichment we give each of our scholars enabling the very best preparation for the future.

Our bursaries are offered from Year 7 upwards. These provide an option for children who would not usually have the opportunity of an independent education and the benefits available from the schooling on offer at St Francis’ College. This in turn adds a valuable contribution to the school community.

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