Bursaries In Independent Schools Play Key Role In A Level Success

Bursary students in independent girls’ schools have achieved significant A*, A and B grades in today’s A Level results.

Girls’ Schools Association schools awarded means-tested bursaries to nearly 8,000 students last year with a value of over £30 million. Bursary girls typically comprise up to a fifth of A Level candidates in individual schools and the vast majority of bursaries are funded by the schools themselves. The value of GSA bursaries rose by 7.6% last year.

The means-tested awards range from foundation scholarships, given to gifted and talented pupils from the maintained sector, who join the independent sector in Year 7, to sixth form bursaries for students joining a school in Year 12.

Charlotte Vere, executive director of the Girls’ Schools Association, says: “Independent girls’ schools make an enormous charitable commitment to extending opportunity wherever they are able. A bursary from one of our schools can play a significant role in A level success and help in getting a good place at university. I am so proud of the achievements of the girls on bursaries in our schools and I hope that in future we can find a way for more children from families whose financial circumstances might not stretch to full fees to attend what are some of the best schools in the country.

Typical of GSA Schools

The proportion of students at St Helen & St Katherine School in Abingdon who receive a bursary is typical of GSA schools. Nine per cent of A Level candidates at St Helen & St Katherine receive bursary support. In today’s A Level results, all achieved grade B and above and a quarter are celebrating a full flush of A* grades.

At City of London School for Girls bursary recipients comprise 12% of Year 13 and 23% of Year 12 students. Many of their bursary students achieved straight A grades and higher in this year’s A level results.

Full Fee Bursaries Make Considerable Impact

Some schools make a point of awarding full fee bursaries with the intention of making a considerable impact on a student’s educational opportunities. These include James Allen’s Girls’ School where the vast majority of the bursaries awarded to 17 of their 96 Year 13 students are for full fees. The 17 girls sat 56 full A levels and achieved 13 A* grades (23%), 30 A grades (54%), 11 B grades (20%) and 2 C grades (3%).

Externally Funded Places

Externally funded independent school places are occasionally available through organisations such as the HSBC Global Education Trust. At Sheffield High School (GDST), for example, HSBC fund a number of places each year for new students entering the sixth form. Current recipient, Emily Haimeed, has a full fee award. She achieved A* and A grades in her A Levels and a place at London School of Economics to study International Relations.

Abi’s Story – From The Gambia To A Level Success

Abigail Erskine’s story reflects the huge impact a bursary can make on an individual’s life.

Abigail’s missionary parents moved to the Gambia when she was just six months old to build and run a small school. Today, Abi has achieved two As and a B in her French, Psychology and Biology A Levels and plans to follow in her parents’ footsteps to teach. It’s an achievement she believes would not have been possible without the bursary place she was given at Withington Girls School.

For years her parents had been reliant on the gifts and donations that were made to the Christian Mission where they worked. When they returned to Manchester when Abi was 16, they had no savings and their dream of sending Abi to an independent school with small classes seemed out of the question. Manchester, and the prospect of having to attend a large sixth form, was a huge culture shock for Abigail after the mud and brick home in the tiny rural farming village she was brought up in and her seven hour journey to school.

She says: “I am so grateful to the Withington Bursary Fund. My parents would never have been able to afford to send me here otherwise and the culture shock of going into a large college would probably have been too much. As it is, I went from a year of just 8 pupils at my little school in Senegal to a year here with 80 in it. The atmosphere is so friendly and the interaction between the staff and the girls is fantastic. I don’t think I would have found that anywhere else. Not only has Withington’s financial assistance enabled me to do my A levels here but the staff have also helped me find work experience placements which will really help me. I have always wanted to be a primary school teacher and I now am in a position where I am going to train at the college of my choice taking me a step closer to my dream.

Before starting her teacher training course at Canterbury Christchurch, Abigail intends to join a six month missionary programme which will combine French-speaking practise during a 3 month lecture-based course in France and work in an overseas missionary.

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