8 February 2018
King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for the Fund-Raising Initiative of the Year by the Times Educational Supplement (TES). The school was nominated for its innovative pupil-led campaign to widen access by raising funds for means-tested bursaries to enable more pupils from low-income families to attend the school. The year-round initiative included a video, social media campaign and telethon, undertaken by a group of six Lower Sixth formers speaking to Old Edwardians during the summer holidays. This raised over £35,000 which was then doubled thanks to match-funding from the West Midlands-based Michael Marsh Charitable Trust. The £70,000 will help to fund a school place from September 2018, for a girl whose financial circumstances would otherwise prevent her from attending.
Some of the student callers had themselves received financial help to enable them to come to KEHS and, where possible, they were matched with former students – Old Edwardians – with similar interests, so that they could ask for careers advice. One girl was even given a reading list by a former student before her university interviews – and went on to win a place for Medicine at Cambridge. Old Edwardian Judy Dyke, a top Birmingham lawyer and philanthropist, chairs the KEHS Trust. She describes herself as “a passionate Brummie trying to make a difference” and understands first-hand the life-changing impact of an Assisted Place.
“When I was here in the 1960s, most of us had free places, as this was a Direct Grant school,” she explained. “I couldn’t have come otherwise. Neither of my parents had been to university but I went on to study Law at Birmingham University and eventually became Senior Director of Tyndallwoods Solicitors in Birmingham, thanks to the great opportunity I had coming here. So many of us, including our team of callers are massively grateful for the chances we have had and want to give something back.”
Student caller Cerian Richmond Jones, 18, from Solihull is equally thankful. She won a Foundation scholarship to KEHS which provided the funds to cover part of her fees, and after a distinguished school career including a national creative writing award, she has just had an offer to read PPE (Politics Philosophy and Economics) at Balliol College, Oxford, one of 17 Oxbridge offers KEHS girls received this year.
“I’d been at a poor state primary,” she remembered, “and, without funding, I couldn’t have come here and had these amazing opportunities. Everyone works hard at KEHS. They want to learn and the teaching is inspirational. The extra-curricular activities are superb too. I’ve really enjoyed debating and taking part in Living History events.”
“We’re incredibly proud of our student callers,” said KEHS Principal Ann Clark. “They are our best advocates, and spent over 70 hours each, cheerfully making hundreds of calls to Old Edwardians, many of whom relished the contact and emailed to thank the girls. There was a tremendous atmosphere throughout the telethon, as our callers want to make it possible for the next generation of girls to have the same life-changing experience, irrespective of their parents’ financial situation.”
The winner of the TES award will be announced on Thursday.