What do you think of when you hear "private schools"? A higher quality of education? A wider range of qualifications? More extra curricular activities? Or is it the private school fees that spring to mind first?

Reports have shown that parents in Britain spend more on educating their children privately than in any other country. One of the reasons for this is said to be that many parents are unhappy with the quality of education offered in state schools. Not only this but many parents are unhappy with the discipline procedures as well as the variety of subjects in the national curriculum. The culture embedded in private schools is another reason for their popularity; the importance attached to discipline, manners, respect.

A vast number of British people have a very stereotypical image of private schools, and have rather negative preconceptions with regard to the fees required. For the average British family, the option of sending your son or daughter to a private school seems completely complete out of the question for this exact reason. With average fees of just over £ 4,000 per term, private education is impossible to fund for many parents.

However, many families are also unaware of the support available to help finance their son or daughter's private education. Many independent schools now offer financial assistance in the form of bursaries and scholarships. The latter are only awarded at certain stages through the pupil's school and are based on merit ie on a pupil's performance or abilities. Bursaries on the other hand, are generally awarded more frequently because they are based on financial need. They take into account the financial circumstances of the applicant's parents and the amount of financial assistance accordingly accordingly.

It's important to remember that you can approach the school and ask for help. Many schools hold regular visitors' days where you are given a tour of the school to see the pupils and teachers at work and are then given the opportunity to speak to the staff about the financial support available. Contrary to popular opinion, the aim of most private schools has always been to provide the highest quality education possible to pupils for all different backgrounds.

If you have any doubts or queries about the funding or how your money is being spent, most countries now have a board or body that represents their independent schools. For example the Scottish Council of Independent Schools deals with matters concerning private schools in Scotland .

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