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BLOG: Changing Lives with Scholarship Programme Grants

BLOG: Changing Lives with Scholarship Programme Grants

In the latest edition of our exclusive blogs with Sir Thomas White Loan Charity trustees, Anne Whitlock provides insight into the charity’s Scholarship Programme Grants, which provide talented students with the opportunity to study at independent schools in a bid to enable them to reach their full potential…

The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity may have been around for hundreds of years, but that doesn’t stop it moving with the times and providing new opportunities to young people across Leicestershire.

So, when Hugh Stevenson – at the time Chair of Trustees at the Charity, saw an article about an organisation that offered grants to independent schools for promising students, he had a ‘light bulb’ moment. Why couldn’t the charity give money to exceptional students within schools in Leicestershire, so that they could study in the sixth form of an independent school within the county; thus giving them the greatest chance of fulfilling their potential?

Fast-forward five years and The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity has now given grants totalling £228,859 to eight pupils; all of whom, without exception, have described the opportunity as “life changing”.

Students from schools, including Rushey Mead, Judgemeadow, Madani, Beauchamp College, Kibworth School and Beaumont Leys, have been awarded scholarship grants of £25,000 to £35,000 over a two-year period as part of the Sir Thomas White Loan Charity Scholarship Programme, with pupils going on to study at Leicester High School for Girls, Ratcliffe College and Leicester Grammar School. Some are now pursuing their career plans at university, studying a range of subjects from pharmacy to engineering.

The beauty of the Scholarship Programme is that it’s simple and not daunting. Here’s how it works…

In the autumn, Lucy Womack – our Trustee in charge of the programme – visits the independent schools we work with. It is then the responsibility of the independent school to market the scholarship to pupils applying for assisted places at that school.

As a charity, we’re looking to award the scholarships to bright, hardworking and ambitious students who have a proven financial need. In other words; the pupil should not have the household income to afford the £25,000 to £35,000 fees for the two years of study at the independent school of their choice. It’s expected that the pupil will meet with the head teacher or head of sixth form at their chosen independent school, to learn more about what that school can offer them. On the flip side, the school will make a decision on whether the pupil will be able to cope academically in the sixth form and what they might game most from the two years of study there.

In March, independent schools then put forward one or two students for interview by four Sir Thomas White Loan Charity trustees, with around three places to offer on average each year.

As one of the four interviewers, I can honestly say that the interview process is the best bit for trustees – we love it. It’s a privilege to meet such bright young people on the brink of life, who are filled with ambition and hope. Of course, we make interviews as relaxed as possible, and understand the nerves felt by pupils. We look for drive and determination as we discuss each pupil’s dreams, along with some evidence of thoughts for the future. We’re always inspired by the students we meet – and the decision-making element becomes tough.

Once that decision is made though, we let the independent schools know our decision, leaving it then up to the students to pass their GCSEs with flying colours in order to secure their place.

The charity’s input doesn’t stop there. We get to hear how each student is getting on and receive regular feedback from the independent schools.

Our hope is that they stay in touch with The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity throughout their careers – and come back to Leicestershire to spread the word of the charity and how it is dedicated to nurturing talent.

For more information on The Sir Thomas White Loan Charity’s Scholarship Programme, please click here

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