King’s Scholarships are the School’s much-coveted academic scholarships. The Scholarships, which are not means-tested, were originally established by Henry VIII and were more formally affirmed by Elizabeth I in 1560 – the historic link with the Royal Family continues today. Our King’s Scholars are privileged to be able to attend a variety of special services in Westminster Abbey, as invited by the Dean; and they have other ceremonial duties to perform in connection with the Abbey and the Crown.
There are a total of 48 King’s Scholars, with usually 12 chosen every year: eight boys at age 13+ entry and four girls at age 16+ entry. A King’s Scholarship is normally tenable for five years. King’s Scholars are required to board at the School and all belong to College, one of the six boarding Houses. For information about College, please refer to our boarding pages.
For election to a King’s Scholarship a candidate for 13+ entry must be under 14 years of age on 1 September of the year of entry and for 16+ entry must be under 17 years of age on the same date.
The fee for 13+ King’s Scholars is set at the day fee for the academic year. For 16+ King’s Scholars, the fee is currently set at 40% less than the full boarding fee; from September 2024, King’s Scholars 16+ will pay the 16+ day fee. The value of a scholarship may be supplemented by a bursary up to a maximum of 100% if there is proven financial need. The Governing Body usually reviews school fees for the subsequent year annually by the end of the summer term, for publication in early July. Please refer to our Fees page for updates.
How to become a 13+ King’s Scholar
In order to be considered for a King’s Scholarship, a boy in Year 8 can take an examination at Westminster entitled ‘The Challenge’. The Challenge is held annually in late April or early May to determine which pupils are elected as King’s Scholars for 13+ entry the following September. The Challenge consists of papers in Mathematics, English, French, Science, Latin, History, Geography, which all Challenge candidates sit, and an optional Greek paper for those who have studied it.
- Candidates for The Challenge need not have registered for the School in advance, nor hold a place, but in such cases a regular place will not be offered if a King’s Scholarship is not awarded.
- If you would like your son to sit The Challenge, it is essential to discuss the matter with his present head teacher, who will be required to counter-sign the Challenge application form by February in Year 8.
- Application forms for 13+ Scholarships may be obtained from the 13+ Admissions Administrator (+44 (0)20 7963 1003); past papers for The Challenge may be downloaded via the link below.
How to become a 16+ King’s Scholar
For King’s Scholarships awarded to girls entering the Sixth Form at 16+, selection is based on the overall performance in the Sixth Form Entrance Exam papers and interviews, which take place in the November before the year of entry. For further information about the application process and entrance examination, please refer to our 16+ entry page.
13+ Music Awards
Annually, the School awards up to eight Music Awards for 13+ entry. These are each worth 10% of the day fee, irrespective of day or boarding status. In addition, three music exhibitions may be awarded annually at 13+ entry. Both types of awards include free tuition on up to two instruments, and they may be supplemented by additional means-tested bursaries to a maximum of the full fees.
Auditions for Music Awards are held in late January or early February of Year 8. Candidates who do not already hold a place at the School can apply, but they must be under 14 years of age on 1 September of the proposed year of entry and must subsequently qualify for a place by sitting The Challenge or Common Entrance. For details of The Challenge, please refer to “How to become a 13+ King’s Scholar” in the section above. For further information, please contact the Music Administrator (+44 (0)20 7963 1017).
A good ABRSM Grade 7 standard on the candidate’s first instrument is usually expected and it is recommended that a candidate should have an informal audition with the Director of Music in the preceding autumn before the formal auditions take place.
16+ Music Scholarships
Annually, the School awards up to four Music Scholarships for 16+ entry. These are each worth 10% of the day fee, irrespective of day or boarding status. They include free tuition on up to two instruments, and they may be supplemented by additional means-tested bursaries to a maximum of the full fees.
Auditions for 16+ Music Scholarships will be held in November, for those candidates who are invited for interview after the Sixth Form Entrance Exams – please refer to the 16+ Entry page for further information about the application process. A good Grade 8 standard on the candidate’s first instrument is usually expected. The Director of Music is very happy to discuss the process with prospective candidates. For further information, please contact the Music Administrator (+44 (0)20 7963 1017).
Henry Purcell Organ Scholarship
The Henry Purcell Organ Scholarship is awarded biennially to a pupil at Westminster School. The Scholarship is worth 10% of the day school fees and will additionally offer free instrumental tuition on up to two instruments, including weekly organ tuition with the School Organist.
The Henry Purcell Organ Scholarship will be awarded to a 16+ pupil and both internal and external applicants are encouraged to apply. External applicants will be required to win their place academically in the normal way. There will only be one Henry Purcell Organ Scholar at any time at the School. Subject to satisfactory contribution and progress, the organ scholar will normally be expected to hold the award throughout their time at Westminster.
The intention of this award is to encourage the promotion in the School of excellent organ playing, both in relation to the liturgy and more widely in performance, and to add a further strand to the strong links that exist between the School and the Abbey. For further information, please contact the Music Administrator (+44 (0)20 7963 1017).
The School has a programme of bursary support that provides approximately £1.4m each year to pupils at both the Under School and Great School. This allows pupils of exceptional talent and promise to benefit from a high-quality education regardless of their background or financial position.
Means-tested day bursaries of up to 100% of day fees are available for day pupils and are awarded to pupils according to individual need, at both 13+ and 16+ entry. All bursaries continue until a pupil leaves the School at 18, although they may be decreased or increased if financial circumstances change. We aim to act as sensitively as possible; very few members of staff and none of the other pupils will be aware that a boy or girl is receiving financial assistance. When a full bursary is awarded, it will cover the cost of uniform, equipment and compulsory school expeditions.
Boarding bursaries are not awarded, except when combined with King’s Scholarships: for details of King’s Scholarships, please refer to the section above.
13+ bursaries would usually be awarded only to those who already hold bursaries at their prep schools. To apply for a bursary, please email the Bursar’s Department to request an initial financial assessment form. Once you have submitted the form, you will be contacted by the Bursar.
To be eligible for a bursary, a child’s parent(s) must have lived in the UK continuously in the two years prior to application and must also live in London at the date of application. If a boy, who has been awarded a bursary, subsequently wins a scholarship, the monetary value of the scholarship will be absorbed within the bursary. For more information about eligibility for bursaries, please refer to our Bursaries Policy, which is available to download from the Policies and Reports page.
Candidates who wish to apply for a bursary should ask their parents to upload their passports and complete the Bursary Part A (Initial Assessment) and Part B (In-depth Assessment) Forms, which is available as part of the main registration process online. For details of how to register online, please refer to the 16+ entry pages. If a candidate who is applying for a bursary is called back for interview, their parents will be invited to meet the Bursar towards the end of November. For assistance, please contact the Bursar’s Department (+44 (0)20 7963 1028).
If a girl who has been awarded a bursary also is awarded with a Music or King’s Scholarship, the monetary value of the scholarship will be absorbed within the bursary. Please note that bursaries are available for day pupils who live in London only and who meet the eligibility criteria. Bursaries are available where the parents and children fall into one of the following categories:
- The child has the right to live and study in the UK on commencement of their studies at the School.
- At least one of the parents and the child have lived in the UK for at least two continuous years at the time of applying for a bursary.
- The parents live inside the M25 London orbital at the time of applying for a bursary and whilst their child is in receipt of bursary funding from School.
Parents should consult the UKVI website for a detailed explanation of the criteria established by the United Kingdom. These criteria are used by the School. For more information about eligibility for bursaries, please refer to our Bursaries Policy, which is available to download from the Policies and Reports page.