From the desk of the Head Master 6 February 2020
Last week I attended a conference on bursaries for pupils at independent schools. We heard from charity leaders and heads of other schools who had embarked on their own bursary programmes. We also heard from one boy, now in Sixth Form, who had benefitted from a transformational switch from a Derby comprehensive to a Somerset independent school, all thanks to a bursary.
In the ‘Vision for 2021’ we expressed the aspiration of funding 80 boys to attend on full bursaries and we are heading in the right direction, although I would like that number to increase beyond 80 and up to around 100 - a tenth of the school - in this decade. I am very grateful for the generosity of the individual benefactors and local charities who make the award of these bursaries possible.
In a new initiative this year, we have also been working with Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation, a charity that identifies academically able pupils from disadvantages backgrounds and matches them with boarding schools in which they might thrive. We are going through the accreditation process and hope to be able to welcome our first boarding bursary pupils in September. These places will be funded in large part by a legacy from one of our old boys who became a teacher and was a longstanding friend of the school before sadly passing away last year. He recognised the value of the education regardless of means and wished to help boys attend our school who would not otherwise be able to join us. I will be speaking about him as we remember all of our benefactors on Foundation Sunday in June.
The case for bursaries is compelling. Schools such as Warwick were traditionally founded for the education of the children of less affluent members of society. In the 20th century we had first the direct grant schools, which accepted a proportion of pupils on free places, and then from 1980, the assisted places scheme, of which I was a beneficiary in the early 1990s. All such state aid for pupils attending independent schools ceased in 1997 and bursaries have had to be developed in its stead.
You will know that Warwick School, alongside King’s High School, is a charity. We fulfil our charitable objectives in a number of ways, through the education of our own pupils, our work with other local primary and secondary schools and our work in the community – sharing our facilities but also through our developing volunteering scheme. Supporting pupils from all backgrounds to come to Warwick is another key part of that charitable mission. But this is more than some exercise to justify our charitable status. Our boys and staff benefit from being included in a diverse school community with pupils from all backgrounds.
I would love to be able to work with local or national government to fund more of these boys to go through the school – a recent proposal was that the Local Authority could pay to independent schools the funds that would otherwise be spent on their education while the balance could be covered from bursaries. Sadly that has no legs in the current climate.
In the meantime I will continue to support and develop our bursary programmes, and I hope many of you will be able to join us in the Warwick Hall on Friday 28th February for the Head Master’s Quiz, where the funds raised will be going towards the bursary campaign. The quiz features, by popular demand, the return of the curry supper, and you are guaranteed a fun, educational, head-scratching night out, with the opportunity of taking on one or more staff teams. Keep watching University Challenge as part of your training. Further information can be found in the weekly newsletter.