Parents' Guild backing boosts co-curricular fund for bursaries

The Parents’ Guild Supper Quiz Fundraiser is a staple entry in the school calendar – and this year it helped to fix attention on a vital part of the school’s bursaries provision, the co-curriculum, and making sure that bursary pupils can enjoy the widest possible UCS experience.

UCS parents recognise the transformational impact of a full UCS education and so, this year, the Guild are committed to raising a significant sum for the Bursary Co-Curricular Fund. Donors to this fund ensure that all pupils can access the whole gamut of co-curricular opportunity without restrictions.

Edd Pickering, our Director of Development and Alumni Relations, offered his gratitude to the Parents’ Guild both for the fundraising evening and for their considerable contribution to the school, and explained the benefits to bursary recipients of such generous donations.

How did this year’s event shine a spotlight on bursaries?

As a school we are always grateful for the work of the Parents’ Guild in bringing the parents together, providing a sense of community and an important voice in the work and running of the school. The fundraising work of the Parents’ Guild has long been a source of pride: for the school, for the pupils and for the parents. As UCS raises its ambitions about fundraising and bursary support, we are thrilled that the Guild supported the Bursary Programme through the Supper Quiz. It was brilliant to see the school community come together and support a cause that is vital to the ongoing success of UCS.

What support do bursary recipients at UCS receive while they’re pupils here?

We strongly believe UCS offers an amazing education, and that is why bursaries cover the school fees. However, UCS also offers an amazing experience outside the classroom.

We have appointed Mr Bienias as Bursaries Co-Ordinator, and his role is to be an additional element of support to bursary recipients. He gets to know them from the moment they start at the school, makes sure they’re feeling supported and have somewhere additional to turn, and crucially works with the pupils and the rest of the staff to assess where a pupil might need additional financial help, e.g. with uniform, sports kit, trips or IT equipment.

Our aim is to raise money to support bursary pupils not only with fees but with all the elements that make a difference: being able to go on theatre trips if they’re studying Drama; being able to go to Italy to study Ancient Roman culture and history; or making memories and friends on a residential trip with their sports team.

Why did the Parents’ Guild choose to support the co-curricular activity specifically?

I think this is really for two reasons. First, this element of our fundraising work resonated especially strongly with the Parents’ Guild as our parents can see their children enjoying and learning from these experiences, and want to make sure every UCS pupil gets the same opportunity.

Second, we have some donors who are in a position to be able to support a student all the way through UCS by covering their fees. Obviously, this is not true of all our parents. We want all our communities, parents and Old Gowers alike, to be excited about supporting the school philanthropically. For example, a bushcraft trip for a Year 8 pupil is such an exciting and important opportunity for a young boy, and a gift of £100 will enable someone to take part in this.

How do bursary recipients feel about the support of the Guild and other donors?

Beyond grateful would be the shortest answer. We were very lucky that two more recent Old Gowers came and spoke about their experience at UCS – the impact that the bursaries and in particular the additional experiences made for them – and they were able to offer their personal thanks to everyone at the Supper Quiz. Amir and Monica both spoke about how elements outside the classroom, including Physics trips and Music, enriched not only their studies but also their lives.

Another Old Gower, Kaylem, who couldn’t attend the evening, summed it up best: “Thank you. My life wouldn’t be the same without the stellar education and cultural experiences you gifted me.”

Why focus on increasing support for bursaries?

There are three fundamental reasons: As I’ve mentioned above, UCS is an incredible opportunity and an incredible experience, and we want to make that available to more people, regardless of financial circumstances.

We typically have around seven pupils in each year receiving bursary support, with of course more in the Sixth Form. We are working to help these pupils feel there is more of a cohort of pupils from similar backgrounds to theirs, to help them settle into the school. Now, a lot of pupils don’t want to talk about their financial background, which is completely fine, but if we can double the chance of a pupil having a conversation in the playground with someone they can identify more easily with then we think that will really help them.

Bursary pupils play an incredibly important role in the life of UCS. They often bring a different energy, focus and perspective. Diversity benefits us all, and it helps remind many of our pupils about how fortunate a position they are in.

Bursaries are central to the life of the school and, especially as we approach our 200th anniversary in 2030, we want to celebrate this more and more. That is why we are so grateful to the Parents’ Guild for supporting this work with their Supper Quiz.

To find out more about the impact of bursaries and how to support UCS, visit: https://www.ucs.org.uk/community/support-ucs/ or contact Edd Pickering at [email protected].

 

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