A scholarship can save a fortune on private school fees

My son Nick attended a nursery and prep school in Bath called The Paragon and most of the children in his class won a scholarship to an independent school. When Nick was at The Paragon, we decided that we wanted him to attend a preparatory school on the outskirts of Bath because it would broaden his horizons and experience him. So, at the age of 11, he applied to three high schools, Prior Park, Monkton Combe and Millfield, and was offered scholarships at all three. He liked Millfield and chose to board there in high school and stayed in high school.

We only knew about the scholarships because the director of The Paragon had already sent two scholarship-winning students to Millfield. Nick, at the time, was a good swimmer—in fact, he was the third fastest freestyler in the country—and the boss put him up for a full scholarship in sports, swimming, and academics.

In preparation, Nick was offered a substantial scholarship that was further increased when he entered high school. This was a significant help because we were talking about full shipping fees, which is about £28,000 of taxable income. Scholarships usually range from 10 percent. In fact, 50 percent is not uncommon for gifted children taking a full and active part in school life and some even achieving full tuition reductions.

There were also other expenses to consider, such as uniforms, sports equipment, and rugby tours to South Africa, Atlanta, Canada, and France. However, you could argue that it’s good value for money, because once your kids are in school, they take care of clothes, food, and transportation.

Nick loved Millfield and became the principal of the high school and high school. Millfield is special because it’s like a big comprehensive school and not stuffy at all. There is a real social mix. You have some people who are extraordinarily wealthy and their children go there perhaps because they have a special learning need. You also have children who are exceptionally talented and could be in a free spot. It’s very friendly, almost like a big college campus.

The school has some of the best sports facilities in the country and they take sport very seriously. Nick was very good at rugby and played for England’s First XV and Under 16s. I’m sure if he hadn’t been at Millfield he wouldn’t have made it. Academically, he is not selective, but if you are very bright, you will do very well there. They bring out the best in each student, whatever you have.

The teaching and coaching are very inspiring. Nick had a teacher who taught economics who inspired him to choose that option at A level and he earned one of the top five economics grades in the country.

He was also in the choir, was vice president of the Academic Society and was involved in Mencap Day, when the school is opened so that adults and children with disabilities can enter to use the facilities. The students take care of the visitors and make sure they enjoy their day. Nick said that he was a real leveler.

we feel involved

The pastoral care at the school was excellent and I felt very involved and informed. The housemaster was in regular contact and there was constant communication via email or post; in fact, they bombard you. Millfield is only 27 miles from Bath so we used to drop by at weekends to watch Nick play rugby and he would come home every third weekend.

The only thing that frustrated Nick was that he couldn’t take his because he passed his test afterwards. However, it was a sociable school. They had a 6th year bar on site and wonderful dances and events. In many ways, I’m pleased that he was there with friends and that what he was doing socially was constructive. Bath day school pupils seem to spend most of their free time in pubs and bars.

Nick is now studying law at Durham University. His first choice was St John’s College, Cambridge, but he is highly academic and places are very limited there. When he found out that he hadn’t entered, he was disappointed, but only for an hour.

She loves Durham and has met a lot of different people there. He’s been away from school for so long that I’m used to him not being around and I don’t have the empty nest syndrome that I’m sure many parents do.