Bursaries are a driver for societal change - this was the key message at this year’s HMC and IDPE 2018 School Bursaries Conference on Monday 22 January 2018. Nearly 200 development professionals and senior leaders from across the independent sector came together to learn more about the latest innovations in bursary provision.
In his opening address, HMC Chair-elect and Headmaster of Reigate Grammar School (RGS), Shaun Fenton, recognised the unprecedented uncertainty within the sector. Shaun said: ‘For independent schools to have a secure future, they need to increase their pupil intake. There are not enough places in our outstanding state schools. Independent schools want to do more. We want to work with the government, to offer a further 10,000 places in our schools to promote life-changing social mobility.’
The focus of the HMC and IDPE 2018 School Bursaries Conference is to provide a platform for the independent schools’ sector to work together to improve and expand bursary provision.
In his keynote address, chairman of National Grid, Tate & Lyle and the Aircraft Carrier Alliance Sir Peter Gershon, CBE, FREng said: ‘We must not assume open access will just happen, we must take action to help young people realise their true potential. Bursary programmes create a level playing field and allow social mobility to happen.’
Sir Peter, a Board Member of the Sutton Trust and advocate of bursary provision, used the example of the Gershon Scholars programme: ‘The Gershon Scholars is about taking children from disadvantaged backgrounds, supporting them through the sixth form reading STEM subjects in the hope that they will go on to read a STEM based subject at university and pursue a STEM based career.’
Sir Peter Gershon and Reigate Grammar School’s Headmaster, Head of Foundation and Bursary Beneficiaries
The conference included sessions led by senior leaders and development professionals from prep, day and boarding schools and from beneficiaries whose lives have been transformed by bursaries.
Isobel Tilley, Christ’s Hospital and Reigate Grammar School bursary recipient
Isobel Tilley, bursary recipient, spoke passionately about the support she has received:
‘I am from a single parent, low-income family that survived on benefits. I do not know how my mother managed to bring up three children. Every day was challenging for her and we are both immensely thankful for the 100% bursary I received and the outstanding educational opportunity provided that has allowed me to fulfil my potential and be the first member of my family to access university. Having recently graduated from Cambridge University with a double first in Languages, I now look forward to making the most of the opportunity that has been provided. Reigate Grammar School has given me confidence, self-belief, resilience and the desire to make the world a better place.’
Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, Nick Hillman, discussed the importance of schools as agents of social change: ‘With a new Secretary of State and the government’s focus on Brexit, social mobility may fall even lower down in the list of priorities. Independent schools need to get on and find ways to fund more bursary places. Through demonstrating their commitment to funding bursaries, Independent Schools can move social mobility up the government’s agenda.’
Glen Fendley, IDPE Chairman and Head of Development at Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST)
IDPE’s chairman Glen Fendley said: ‘At GDST, we communicate to our communities that without support for our bursary programme, our schools are at risk of losing their socio-economic diversity which benefits all pupils. We make an unapologetic commitment to creating a culture of philanthropy. We need to be bold and think big.’