Opening doors - Equilibrium

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    Opening doors

    This article is taken from our autumn 2020 edition of Equinox. You can view the full version here.

    Whilst working in inner-city Manchester, Jenny Hopkinson met a year three pupil named Sally.

    “Bright, hardworking and articulate beyond her years, Sally was, at a glance, the kind of pupil I knew could go far,” Jenny explains. “But, being from a disadvantaged background and living in a deprived area, Sally’s chances of getting a high-quality education were limited by the poor secondary schools in the area and her family’s lack of awareness of the options available.”

    Jenny took on the challenge of helping Sally and eventually secured a her a fully funded place at an independent girls’ school where she is now thriving.

    Jenny was inspired by this experience: “Since then, I have made it my mission to help more young people like Sally; this is the heartbeat that drives everything we do at The Bursary Foundation.”

    The Bursary Foundation connects high achieving pupils from low income backgrounds with the best educational opportunities.

    “We work closely with primary schools in some of the poorest parts of Manchester to identify pupils with high potential,” explains Jenny. “We support these pupils with tutoring and mentoring so that they and their families are well prepared and informed before sitting entrance exams for private schools and Trafford grammar schools.”

    2020 has of course brought unexpected challenges. The pandemic has disproportionately affected the poorest in society and, as a consequence, the organisation has lost some capable children from this year’s program.

    “A silver lining, though,” Jenny explains, “is that we now have a deeper understanding of what it means to be disadvantaged. Our relationship with parents is stronger thanks to working with children in their home environment, albeit virtually. For some of them, weekly tutoring sessions were a lifeline during the lockdown.

    “To me, this is just more evidence that our approach to identifying pupils is bang on. We are finding children who have raw, natural talent and an incredible capacity for learning.

    “We owe it to them, and to our country, to address the tragic inequality of opportunity and do everything we can to nurture these outstanding young people. If social mobility becomes engrained in the culture of a school and bursaries are high on the agenda, we can provide more world class opportunities to some of our nation’s brightest young people. Why should our best schools be a privilege reserved for the most affluent in society?”

    The Bursary Foundation has worked with over 40 disadvantaged families to help gifted young people achieve their full potential.

    “For me,” Jenny says, “the magic happens when we meet children like Jakub from Harpurhey, whose family moved to Manchester from Estonia in 2016.

    “Jakub’s parents planned for him to go on to the local high school. They had, quite literally, never heard of a private school and had no idea that funding support in the form of a bursary might be available.

    “We explained that, for an exceptionally capable boy like Jakub, Manchester Grammar School would provide a world class opportunity to be educated alongside ‘the brightest young men in the North of England’, and after a visit to the school, his family were fully on board.

    “With a little exposure to the right materials, Jakub aced his entrance exams and was offered a full bursary at the school.”

    Find out more

    If you would like to learn more about the Bursary Foundation or know anyone who could benefit from their work, you can get in touch with Jenny at: jenny@thebursaryfoundation.com.

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