Changing lives through bursaries – transformative opportunities for children and for schools

Shaun Fenton - HMC, Chair and Head, Reigate Grammar School

Shaun Fenton

Inspired by the life-changing education he received, Shaun Fenton has undertaken leadership roles in some of the UK’s leading independent and state schools. His practice is underpinned by a strong belief in the power of education to open doors of opportunity and the conviction that young people must be supported with the very best pastoral care to enable them to embrace and achieve academic and extra-curricular success. Prior to joining Reigate Grammar School (RGS) in September 2012 Shaun led Pate’s Grammar School, Cheltenham and Sir John Lawes School, Hertfordshire. For four years in a row, RGS has been named the top co-educational day school in Surrey by The Telegraph and The Sunday Times and was judged to be “Exceptional” by the Independent Schools Inspectorate in 2016. Shaun has been on the board of education charity and examination board AQA; a National Leader of Education; a Foundation Fellow of Gloucestershire University; a member of the UCAS Service Advisory Group; an Associate of Reform; and an ISI Inspector. Educated at The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School and Keble College, Oxford, Shaun briefly worked in the commercial world before returning to Oxford in 1993 to complete a PGCE and gained the degree of Master of Education in School Leadership. In addition, he holds the National Professional Qualification for Headship. Shaun and his wife Anna have two young sons. His passion for education is equalled by his love of sport, drama and music. He is Chair of HMC in 2018-19.

Sean Davey MA - Head of Foundation and Business development, Reigate Grammar School

sean davey maSean Davey is from Ashington in Northumberland. The son of a former coal miner and politician, he believes passionately about the power of education and the transformational role it can play in tackling social mobility and child poverty within the UK.

In January 2014, Sean launched the Changing Lives campaign at Reigate Grammar School. With the support of former pupil Sir Peter Lampl and the Sutton Trust, the scheme aims to identify and provide access to severely disadvantaged children from local communities. Having raised over £5m, there are currently 42 pupils attending RGS via this scheme with the prospect of 60 fully supported places by 2020. This is in addition to the 140 assisted places the school currently provides. The vision (and challenge) for Reigate Grammar School is to become truly needs-blind. Therefore, Sean’s role includes business development to explore other income-generating opportunities, such as international schools.

He was recognised internationally for the impact of his work by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in September 2015, receiving the International Schools Engagement Award. More recently, the Institute of Development Professionals in Education (IDPE), presented RGS with their Fundraising Campaign of the Year Award 2017.

Having qualified from Durham University, Sean has significant experience in schools and ran a boarding house at Christ’s Hospital School for 10 years. He has been involved with schools’ development for over 20 years and in 2011 he obtained an MA in Charity Management and Finance from St. Mary’s University College, London. He has become an IDPE Trustee and promotes their social mobility agenda.

Sean is a keen sportsman. He is a current member of the RFU and European Match Officials Group and having refereed over 150 first class games is now an international Television Match Official for World Rugby and officiated in the 2015 World Cup. He is married to Julie, who is the Housemistress at Christ’s Hospital and together they have three children, Mark, Ben and Michelle. Sean’s love of sport and family is equalled by his passion for social mobility and enabling children from poor backgrounds to fulfil their potential.


Izzy Tilley - RGS former pupil and bursary recipient

IT photoIsobel Tilly was born in southwest London, and was brought up in a single-parent, low-income family.

She attended Christ's Hospital and Reigate Grammar School, receiving full bursaries at both schools, and won a place at Cambridge University to study languages. She graduated in 2017 with a double first in Modern and Medieval Languages, and went on to do volunteer work with refugees in Greece, something she hopes to do more of in the future.

Isobel has been accepted onto the Civil Service Fast Stream, where she will start working this summer, and would like to build a career around her interest in human rights.

Social mobility remains one of the most important issues facing UK society today. Independent schools have a vital role to play in providing world-class educational opportunities to children in need. Also, by reaching out to their local communities they identify potential beneficiaries, strengthen local partnerships and build reputation.

This workshop aims to highlight the positive impact bursaries make to recipients and to schools. With a clear moral purpose in place, bursary provision can become a core aspect of a school’s success and appreciated by both internal and external audiences.

Sean, with the help of Isobel Tilley (RGS former pupil and bursary recipient), will illustrate how a focused campaign can energise a community and strengthen an organisation. By developing community trust, fundraising confidence and finding more creative options for income generation, schools can make a significant impact and difference.

Through reference to Reigate Grammar School’s Changing Lives campaign and its community out-reach programme, the why, the how and the impact will all be explored during this workshop.

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