26th November 2020 — Earlier this year, Bolton School began working in partnership with The Bursary Foundation, a charity which works to connect deserving young people in deprived communities in Greater Manchester with the best educational opportunities at independent and grammar schools across the region.
The Bursary Foundation was founded by Jenny Hopkinson, a former primary school teacher and wife of Bolton School Old Boy Max Hopkinson, who, whilst teaching in inner-city Manchester, mentored a bright, hardworking Year 3 pupil called Sally, who subsequently secured a fully-funded place at an independent girls’ school, where she is now thriving. That experience inspired Jenny to found The Bursary Foundation, which partners with primary schools in deprived communities, to identify gifted and talented pupils who have the potential to thrive at an academically selective school. They are then matched with qualified teachers who ensure they are prepared both academically and emotionally for the Year 6 entrance examination. The Foundation works closely with the children’s families to help them to navigate the complex admissions process, and then continues to offer them mentoring support throughout their secondary careers.
The Foundation specifically targets primary schools where the percentage of disadvantaged pupils is higher than average, and where the quality of secondary educational provision in the vicinity is poor. An example is a partner school in Little Hulton, where 64% of pupils receive Free School Meals and, of the eight closest secondary schools, five are rated as inadequate or require improvement. The Foundation’s pilot project was launched in 2018, with 50% of that first intake of pupils securing places, fully-funded at those which are independent schools, including Manchester Grammar School, Manchester High School for Girls, Oldham Hulme and Sale Grammar School. To date, the charity has worked with a further 43 families, with whom they have continued to work online throughout the COVID pandemic.
The George Lancashire Fund at Bolton School was established in November 2012 to fund bursaries for children living in Eccles to study at the School. Following the School’s partnership with The Bursary Foundation, from September 2020 this allocation criteria will be widened to include children living in all areas of the Metropolitan Borough of Salford. Furthermore, any child from Salford who is awarded a 100% bursary from the George Lancashire Fund after engagement with the Bursary Foundation will also qualify to receive an annual ‘Extras’ allowance for the duration of their 100% bursary. This will provide funding for uniform, travel costs, equipment and other associated costs, in order that they can take full advantage of all the opportunities a Bolton School education offers.
Jenny Hopkinson, founder of the Bursary Foundation, writes: ‘There is a frightening inequality of opportunity in our country. Put simply, we are wasting talent, and helping disadvantaged pupils to access the best opportunities in education is the right thing to do. We are thrilled to partner with Bolton School to identify children with huge potential in some of the poorest parts of Salford and help them prepare for entrance exams. An upfront commitment to support families with the additional costs of an education at Bolton School goes hand in hand with our ethos of holistic family support. Together, we can ensure that pupils enjoy everything on offer at this fantastic school.’