Page 8 - Independent Schools Magazine
P. 8

 From food parcels & benefits to a Cambridge double first
Lucy Worsley
brings the
Tudors to life
Pupils at Queenswood School, Hertfordshire, recently travelled back in time with one of the nation’s best-loved historians, and got to experience for themselves the politics and passions of the Tudor Court.
As the Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, Lucy spends her days trawling through the archives of the country’s most treasured and storied buildings. She is known to millions thanks to her celebrated TV series on a range of historical topics.
   With a family dependent on benefits, charity grants to buy necessities like mattresses, and even food parcels from the Salvation Army, life was pretty tough for Isobel Tilley.
With figures published recently by UCAS showing that students from the most disadvantaged fifth of areas of UK accounted for just 6.2 per cent of entries to elite Russell Group universities in 2017, her future didn’t look bright.
But Isobel defied the odds.
Now 23, she has a double first degree from Cambridge under
her belt and a place on the highly competitive fast-track Civil Service graduate training scheme to look forward to.
Isobel [pictured on Cambridge graduation day] believes that her stunning achievements wouldn’t have been possible without a bursary to an independent school, which paid her fees in full.
Former Reigate Grammar School, Surrey, student Isobel says: ‘None
of my family went to university.
My parents left school at 16 with a couple of O-levels. University was simply not something that was talked about or ever suggested when they were at school.’
When her parents divorced, money became really tight and the family had to turn to charities for help with every-day necessities – including food.
Isobel says she learned about
the bursaries available at Reigate Grammar School from a friend of her mother’s. ‘It was entirely by chance. Without a full bursary, a place at the school would have been an impossibility. My family had no spare cash.’
Isobel was one of the speakers at the School Bursaries Conference organised by HMC and the
IDPE (Institute of Development Professionals in Education).
Speaking at the conference, HMC Chair-elect and Reigate Grammar School Headmaster Shaun Fenton said: ‘Independent schools are committed to increasing their already significant bursary offer that supports social mobility. 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.’
Also speaking at the conference, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute Nick Hillman said independent schools had a key
role to play in 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, independents schools can move social mobility up the government’s agenda.’
Speaking after the conference,
Mr Fenton said that Isobel’s
story illustrated the life-changing opportunities offered by bursaries. ‘Full-fee bursaries can have a truly transformational effect on a young person’s future. Isobel’s life is taking a wonderful path. The life chances of children like Isobel are too often dictated by family income. The bursary we were able to award
her has allowed her to cheat the statistical odds.’
Isobel told the conference: ‘In my opinion, bursaries do the right thing. They look at the person, at their merit, at their potential, and offer them an excellent education based on this, not based on whether or not their family can afford to pay for
it. I cannot imagine how crushed I would have been if I’d been told, at the age of 11, that the exceptional education I’d dreamt of was not available to me, not because I wasn’t bright enough or hardworking enough, but because my family did not have the money to pay for it.’
girls in 1918 - the same year women first won the vote. Maltman’s Green has seen just seven headmistresses over its history.
Now she has turned her hand to writing novels for young adults, and last month (April) Queenswood School welcomed her to speak to Years 7, 8 and 9 in the Clarissa Farr Theatre.
Her latest book, Lady Mary, tells the story of Henry VIII’s first daughter, held captive at Hatfield House as her half-sister, Princess Elizabeth, is lavished with wealth and affection.
Girls were invited up onto the stage for a hilarious re-enactment of the story, before Lucy read a spell-binding chapter of the book. There were quizzes on Tudor life, a Q&A session about her work as a historian, and a popular book- signing session in the foyer.
 Girls’ Prep launches Bursary fund
100 years ago women first won
the vote ...and to mark this seminal year, 100-year-old Maltman’s Green School, Buckinghamshire, launches a bursary fund to benefit girls who would otherwise be unable to afford private education.
Funds will be generated by donors - members of the 100 Club - who will be commemorated in a permanent installation at the School. Headmistress, Mrs Joanna Pardon, said, “We appreciate how difficult this can be to access for many families; we hope that our 100 Club Bursary fund will be a life changing opportunity for young girls who
8 Independent Schools Magazine
wouldn’t ordinarily have the means to join us.”
Headmistress of the day, Beatrice Chambers, opened her school for
 Studying 1930’s style
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