Parents wanting their children to be considered for 2016 scholarships to participating Independent schools in Victoria need to register with the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) by 9 February 2015.
ACER holds tests to assist Independent schools select students to be awarded scholarships.
Scholarships open doors to independent education in Victoria and provide schools with students who are not only academically able but who can contribute in such fields as music, drama, sport and leadership.
There are more than 50 Independent schools in Victoria offering scholarships from Early Learning to Prep and Primary to Secondary. They are coeducational or single sex, with religious affiliations or not, and are located throughout Melbourne and in some regional centres.
They meet the needs of children who might not be able to attend Independent schools by providing full, or part reduction, of tuition fees for either the duration of the student’s schooling or for a number of years.
An independent not-for-profit organisation, ACER sets academic tests to determine ability to interpret, infer, deduce and think critically. They are not curriculum-based and do not measure the ability to retrieve learned knowledge. Principals prefer that students have not been coached.
Interviews enable principals to learn about the personal qualities students will bring to their school. Reports, testimonials and samples of work such as an audition for a music scholarship, an art folio or science project may be considered.
Some schools that offer primary through to Year 12 or with feeder primary schools, grant scholarships based on teachers’ recommendations. In these cases, a student’s record is the decider.
Schools might want the applicant to be the child or grandchild of a former student, of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent, or live in the immediate area. Whatever the scholarship opportunity, the school’s values are important – they should reflect the social religious, cultural or social values of the family.
A scholarship provides educational opportunity but a realistic assessment needs to be made of the child’s ability to make the most of it. Are mother and father confident that daughter or son can meet their expectations? Attempting to maximise the chance of winning a scholarship can be stressful – and will there be pressure to maintain high performance?
These factors can be as important as the scholarship being offered.
Applying for a scholarship is an important family decision that can be life-changing and it deserves detailed consideration. I hope that these thoughts make parents’ homework easier.