It is not easy to gain charitable help towards private school fees, even if your income is low and your child very talented. Schools sometimes offer their own bursaries dependent on ability and means tests. While these are highly competitive, they can at least be relatively easy located in school websites and prospectuses. Other charities can be located online (for example www.charitychoice.co.uk) or in printed publications, usually found in libraries, such as the Educational Grants Directory, the Directory of Grant Making Trusts (issued by the Directory of Social Change), the Charities Digest and Charity Choice: The Encyclopedia of Charities. The range of educational trusts seems at first sight to be very encouraging, although closer inspection reveals that many do not fund individuals or school fees.
Despite this caveat, there are small funds that are accessible to individual students, although they are perhaps directed more often at postgraduate research than the needs of the gifted child of limited means. The charities administered by City of London livery companies such as the Drapers may be worth exploration, as are small trusts often limited to narrow geographical areas. A useful publication in London is A Guide to Local Trusts in Greater London (also from the Directory of Social Change), which actually identifies education foundations in specific areas such as Westminster that do support secondary education for individuals. Equivalent publications relating to other parts of the country can be found in local libraries.
In general, the daunting lists of charities in publications can be whittled down by paying attention to the geographical areas that they cover, and the field of interest and type of beneficiary, as well as the trusts’ definitions of what they do and do not fund. Careful reading will probably lead to a very short list of possible sources of funding, but it would be unwise to ignore totally the charitable sector, particularly if you can describe very specific and distinctive reasons for requiring help of this kind. Moreover, certain areas such as music education are quite generously covered by scholarships listed in the British Music Education Yearbook.
In addition to these awards, do not forget that the National Association for Gifted Children (www.nagcbritain.org.uk) and the National Association for Able Children in Education (www.nace.co.uk) also provide invaluable information and support for talented children, especially from less privileged backgrounds.