Read and listen to stories from some of our bursary pupils.
Looking back, I really didn’t appreciate how lucky I was to go to school at King’s. It was only from talking to friends at university and, later, to colleagues in the workplace that I began to realise how good a place King’s was. I can’t say we were struggling to make ends meet growing up, but without the bursary scheme King’s would have been out of reach for us as a family so for that I am forever grateful.
For me, yes the academic side is obviously very important, but it was the culture and life skills that really stand out as the things that make King’s what it is. I got to go on cricket tours to Barbados & Jersey, rugby to Australia and Ireland and of course the trip to Old Chapel to name but a few. I can’t think of anywhere else I would’ve got that experience. The older I have become the more I appreciate the life skills King’s has given me; the ability to hold my own in conversation with almost anyone in the workplace, the confidence to challenge and the ability to think independently.
There was always the odd run-in with a teacher as you’d expect from a teenage boy (notable mentions to Mr Roberts & Mr Hickson!!), but no-one ever held a grudge and in hindsight that was all part of the process of preparing me for life in the real world!
I wouldn’t have changed my school for anything and the fact I still consider myself to have a strong connection to King’s should tell you everything about the opportunities it provided.
I have always been inquisitive, which led to an eclectic range of interests at school. I enjoyed every subject at Primary school and this was important to me when visiting secondary schools with my parents in preparation for selecting my preference. The idea of a purely academic path was never of interest to me, and I remember my interview with the King’s School’s headmaster, Dr Moore, for exactly that reason. He spoke directly to me and listened intently as I shared my hobbies and interests. He poured over examples of my artwork that I’d brought to show him and showed genuine interest in them, which excited me! The choice of next steps from Primary was obvious to me, but I know that the bursary played an enormous part in supporting my parents in affording me the best education.
I remember all of my time at King’s with enormous fondness. I joined the rowing club which provided me with experiences I will always cherish, from developing close friendships to rowing at Henley. The art department forged my lifelong love of creating and all staff members instilled confidence in my own resilience, independence and a lifelong love of learning and continual thirst for knowledge. I was never directed towards a particular path, but was instead supported in making and exploring my own decisions.
Thanks to inspirational teachers, I gained the GCSEs and A-Levels required to allow me to move onto my next steps of learning alongside all of the valuable experiences which stand OVs aside from many others. This all led to a confidence in exploring a range of opportunities and career paths as an adult, never fearful of failure but excited by the learning processes attached to it. As an example, I joined the Navy as a trainee engineering officer at Southampton University but quickly realised this wasn’t something about which I was passionate, so I applied and was accepted onto the BA(Hons) Fine Art at University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The independent study skills developed by King’s supported me throughout the course and I continued to row, before taking up triathlon.
Upon completion of my degree, I moved to Brighton and gained a position in London as an auditor for one of the top accountancy firms. To do so with a degree in Fine Art demonstrates exactly what I meant when I said that OVs stand out at interview – there is a confidence in ability to learn and succeed that I don’t believe many of us would have without our time at King’s!
I missed using the creativity that I’d developed over my life and so left London and moved back to Worcester for a short time before settling back in the North East. I gained a position as an artist in residence at a school and immediately developed a passion for supporting young people who were struggling in education to find their interests and abilities. I trained as a teacher and completed a Masters in Fine Art and Education and took a role as an art teacher. I began to specialise in teaching young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). I was upset to see the lack of meaningful pathways available to these incredible young people and set about a career aimed at improving societal understanding and opportunity whilst improving the education provided.
I’m currently a Deputy Head Teacher in a Trust of 4 special schools. I sit on County Durham’s ‘Think Autism’ panel and the workforce development steering group, developing and implementing policy and practice to reduce barriers encountered by autistic individuals across all sectors. I also work in advisory roles, supporting schools across the North in developing teaching practice for neurodivergent young people, reviewing special schools across the country and am a governor at a local school. Finally, I work with businesses across the region as part of the North East Local Enterprise Partnership to improve the equality of recruitment and retention practices.
King’s filled part of my life that I was missing when I arrived at the age of eleven as the daughter of a single parent. The pastoral element of the community provided me with the support I needed having had some difficult earlier years. I was humbled by the full financial aid I received, and by the continued care teachers had for our academic and personal well-being. I will forever be grateful and indebted to the school.
It was the countless opportunities King’s provides that allowed me to fulfil my potential. I was fortunate to have participated in rowing, drama, the charity committee, the book club and many other activities. Not only did these provide great experiences but they also helped me learn what I was good at; something which gave me a sense of direction and purpose.
The Art School will always hold fond memories for me as a place of friendship and creative fun. The countless hours after school I chose to spend painting there are full of fond memories, as is the trip to St Ives. Having recently visited St Ives again and watched a great friend I made at King’s go on to study Art in Edinburgh, the department has had a long-lasting influence on me.
The academic rigour at King’s was something I could also enjoy without embarrassment (as so many teenagers fear) and led me to the University of Oxford; the place I believed would stretch me even further. Book tokens as recognition of great work in lessons and an academic scholarship in Sixth Form were examples of this.
Undoubtedly, the time individual teachers spent advising me through the application process for Oxford steadied me for what was a big leap of faith in applying there. I remember repeating to myself ‘pigs might fly’ as I opened my offer letter, which in some way confirmed the need for confidence my teachers had always tried to instil in me.
The feedback I would get at every parents evening was related to confidence too: ‘put your hand up more!’. I was aware of the irony of my being an outspoken person by nature but a quiet person in class. This is something that King’s helped me to improve through opportunities such as my monitor’s address and the debating society. As my politics teacher was not hesitant to remind me, I would have to speak up in politics tutorials at Oxford! Now I have graduated and started a job as a Project Manager, I can rely on those communication skills King’s helped me build.
King’s gave me a certain bravery to reach higher and enjoy my own individuality. It taught me to take risks and to think outside of the box. The Bursary Programme represents a rare initiative in which the generosity of others is translated into a permanent and exceptional gift to a young person. I want to express my thanks and best wishes to every person who has and will contribute.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have benefitted from the King’s Bursary Programme. The main draw of the school to me personally was the fantastic sporting provision on offer and the reputation it had on a national level. Having watched my elder brother represent the school on the sports fields, I was hopeful for the same opportunity when my time came.
I was lucky enough to represent the 1st XI cricket team for 5 years and the 1st XV and 1st XI rugby and football teams for 3 years. This culminated in me winning the ‘Bowler Cup’ for contribution to sport on my final King’s day in 2008 which was a proud achievement. The majority of this was alongside my younger brother who was also fortunate to have the same opportunities that I did.
Representing the school every week with your friends remains my favourite years of playing sport and the rugby and cricket tours that I was supported to attend, were two of the best all-round experiences that I have had.
My education at King’s certainly led and set me up for my own career as a teacher where I am currently Head of Cricket at King’s College School in Wimbledon. I know that a number of King’s teachers, for whom I had enormous respect, have influenced my own style.
Asides from my own experiences at King’s, I have seen first-hand the value of bursary programmes in the three schools that I have taught in. There have been a number of outstanding pupils who would not have had the opportunity of private education without such schemes and they have thrived academically and in Music, Drama or Sport.
I know that our family remain grateful for everything that King’s gave to us.
Thanks to the generosity of bursary donors, I was able to spend over half of my childhood being nurtured and developed within the King’s environment; this undoubtedly provided me the opportunity to achieve my potential both vocationally as well as socially. It is a gift for which I will always be thankful.
I joined King’s at nine-years old as a Cathedral Chorister; shy and unsure of myself yet left as a courageous and curious adult with life-long friends. I felt confident in my ambition to make a meaningful difference to society through the healthcare system, more specifically in the field of Dentistry, firm in the knowledge that the more you apply yourself to what you do, the more successful you will be.
Whilst the facilities available at King’s were excellent, it was the teaching staff who created an inspiring academic environment. Any work-based struggles I experienced were overcome thanks to the patience and willingness of my teachers to help when asked, and the pastoral support received, particularly at a time of family loss was outstanding. I received constant encouragement to do my best and know that each member of staff firmly believed in the ethos of getting the most from each pupil.
This pursuit of pupil fulfilment and well-roundedness extended far beyond the classroom. For myself, this involved participation in a number of music groups, both as a singer and cornet player This was invaluable in the development of team-working skills but also provided opportunity to gain confidence through solo performance. I thoroughly enjoyed participating in swimming, athletics and the Duke of Edinburgh too. It has become apparent to me that skills such as self-reliance, self-discipline and the importance of utilising time efficiently were all refined during my time at the school.
I was the recipient of several extra bursaries which afforded me the opportunity to explore my passions and interests overseas, the most powerful being an exchange to Germany in the Lower Sixth. Initially planned to involve working in a Kindergarten, my curiosity led me to spend the weeks with my exchange partner’s father within his dental surgery. This inspired my career choice where I am currently working as an Academic Clinical Fellow in Primary Dental Care at the Plymouth University having graduated with Honours and the Dean’s Gold Medal.
I am proud and humbled to have been educated at King’s and know that the values instilled within me today find their origins at this wonderful school.
After King’s I went into environments where having the highest grades was a given and alone didn’t guarantee me an interview. The bigger and scarier question then became “and, what else?”. So I have written a bit about how King’s helped me develop three things in particular: self-awareness, resilience and confidence.
Trying so many extracurricular activities and a broad range of academic options allowed me to explore my interests at an early stage. As a result I knew what my strengths and weaknesses were and could use this knowledge to my advantage. To pick one example, my love of languages: I started with French Club with an Assisted Place at Hawford (although I think this was mostly just eating croissants), did a taster carousel in Lower 4th, could study 2 languages through to GCSE and A level as well as some Latin and Greek, I had conversation lessons with native French and Spanish speakers and spent a week working in a French bakery. Now I’ve picked up a third language as an adult, spent a fifth of my life abroad and work in a large, international law firm.
Resilience. At King’s whenever something didn’t go as planned or I got a bit complacent, my teachers would push me that bit further, encouraging me to use the language lab to self-study or setting me harder homework. They reminded me to keep my head down and go after more than just what I needed to do well in an exam.
From that self-awareness and resilience comes a certain confidence and courage. You know your own ability and your limitations, you know what you do and don’t enjoy and you’re willing to work hard to improve. If something goes wrong you can stay positive and plan a different way of achieving your goals. Those skills serve you well regardless of your academic level and professional background.
You’ll see in our new literature several examples of OVs who have excelled in their university and professional careers. As you read them I’ll hope you’ll wonder what their “what else?” might be and remember how King’s also develops soft skills which stay with you for life.
“The memories I have made at King’s will never be forgotten. I was given many opportunities to become a more well rounded student. My personal highlights include two successful seasons with the 1st VX, 1st XI and 1st VII. Being awarded the role of Head of school house was also one of my proudest achievements and winning Bowler cup for my contribution to school sport at King’s day was my happiest moment.
All of these achievements both academically and sporting would not be possible without the support I received”
I joined the King’s Foundation at Hawford in 2000, and was able to complete my education at King’s in 2014, thanks to the generosity of bursary donors and the Rank Foundation. I was very fortunate that there was funding available for me to complete my GCSEs at King’s, after the economic downturn and family breakdown put me and my family in a difficult position at the beginning of Fifth Form. King’s put me forward for a Leadership Scholarship from the Rank Foundation and winning this enabled me to progress into the sixth form. This was more important to me than simply continuing with an excellent education, as staying at King’s gave me continuity and stability when there was a lot of change in my life, and I’ll always be grateful for that.
The numerous opportunities to lead and take responsibility throughout my time in the school have given me a lot of confidence in myself and my abilities; indeed, it was captaining the school quiz team which encouraged me to audition for my college’s University Challenge team, and now we can be seen on the current series! Without confidence imbued in me at King’s as a Monitor and on various sports teams I probably wouldn’t have taken up Cricket either, and last year that lead to me winning a Full Blue in the Oxford and Cambridge Varsity Match at Fenner’s.
I left King’s with a well-rounded set of skills and interests, from history and biology to sports and educational inequalities. I combined these in my degree in Geography at Oxford University, where I also gave access and admissions workshops to over 1000 young people, inspired by the benefits of pushing for and capitalising upon the best possible educational opportunities, regardless of your background or situation. I have been lucky enough to follow several of these pupils as they begin their studies at high flying universities, and so the support I was given by King’s has had a tangible ripple effect on the lives of numerous other young people.
As I go forward into a Masters by Research degree in Avian Ecology, and then hopefully a PhD, I remain among the many OVs who appreciate the generosity of bursary donors. A King’s education set me up for a successful future because it gave me self-confidence, leadership skills, an appetite for learning, and a wonderful group of close friends, for which I am immensely grateful.
I was comfortable and happily settled at King’s when my family’s circumstances changed. Finances would no longer cover school fees and it was likely that my brother and I would have to change schools. A bursary allowed me to remain at King’s throughout my GCSEs and following Sixth Form studies. As well as academic continuity, remaining in the same school with my friends brought stability during a time that was already unsettling. I am very grateful to the donors that provided funds for my bursary.
My education at King’s formed a solid academic base from which I went on to study Geography at the University of Durham. I have subsequently pursued a career in contaminated land consultancy undertaking investigations of brownfield sites in preparation for their redevelopment across the UK. Most recently, I have just finished a period as head of the department for a small environmental consultancy.
As a young child, I had grown used to moving house every few years as my parents relocated for work. When they finally settled in Worcestershire in the 1990s, they wanted a nurturing environment where I could achieve my social and academic potential.
Bidding for a scholarship could be overwhelming to an 11-year-old boy, but the Director of Music was incredibly welcoming and treated me like I deserved to be there and could add something to the school’s already vibrant music department. Once I was accepted, I went on to play in the school orchestra and was encouraged to pursue my love for the piano at King’s concerts and events. More than ten years later, I still play the piano (almost) daily. King’s taught me the importance of maintaining passions alongside academia, or now, a career.
A King’s education is an asset to any career path. Its name rightly carries prestige not just by way of its academic rigour, but because it offers exposure to a new world of ideas (More than one guest speaker left me amazed at life’s possibilities) and a huge variety of extra-curricular activities. You leave with a lively sense of self-worth and the tenacity to remain always curious – free to carve your own path through later life. The values King’s instilled have remained with me to this day, and it is a school I always recall with fondness and pride. I would urge anyone considering donating to the Bursary Appeal to do so knowing that your financial contribution will impact individuals long after they have left King’s.
Later I went on to the University of Warwick to study Philosophy with Psychology, and eventually to convert to law. I now manage international litigation and regulatory investigations projects for a leading international law firm. I am also an independent advisor for Thomson Reuters, exploring how the introduction of new technologies – such as Artificial Intelligence – might disrupt the legal sector.
Simply put, I would not be in this position were it not for the wealth of opportunities presented to me at King’s. When I sit at a piano today, I can vividly remember my first concert in College Hall. Over a decade later I was given the opportunity to play at the wedding of a fellow OV, a moment that I think exemplifies the value of a King’s education. King’s shaped my interests, hobbies and lifelong friendships. This is something for which I will always be hugely grateful.
As for my experience at King’s as a student in receipt of a bursary – I genuinely don’t think I would be where I am today without spending my Lower and Upper sixth years at King’s. Academically, socially and personally, attending King’s helped me develop into the person I am today and, most importantly, helped me grow in confidence to pursue my interests. Studying Physics, Maths and Economics for my A-Levels left me as one of the few girls in most of my classes and perhaps I wouldn’t have pursued those subjects if it weren’t for the teachers and students at King’s encouraging me to do what I enjoy and not worry what others think. Without this support, I would not have gone to university to study Physics with Astrophysics and ultimately would not be on the Graduate Programme I am on today.
Outside of academics, King’s allowed me to fulfil my other main passion of theatre and dance. I was lucky enough to be in Upper Sixth when King’s put on a production of Les Mis and that will forever be one of my best memories of King’s. Not only did I get to perform, I got to do so alongside great friends. I was also lucky enough to travel to Spain with the choir on a concert tour. Again, this is an experience I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for the bursary programme.
King’s gave me the confidence to strive for my goals and also provided me with the tools to succeed. None of it would have been possible without the generosity of the bursary scheme making King’s accessible to me. The bursary scheme works so well at making the benefits of King’s accessible to all and, for that, I will be forever grateful.
It’s difficult to capture my amazing experience and gratitude to the bursary scheme and King’s in a few words! I hope for all the best with the future of the bursary scheme and really hope the 40 places is one day realised – every place really does make a difference!
I was never the most academic of children – I found it hard to focus on a lot of subjects, but one of the things that was fantastic was that teachers generally found a way to get the best out of you, even when you might be struggling with a particular subject or concept. I always felt included in, integrated into, and supported by, a community. A community of friends, teachers, advisors and people who really cared. That community instilled a confidence in me to believe in myself and also push myself and try new things that I might not have otherwise. There was a great choice of subjects, clubs, activities and sports to be involved with that help to see and do amazing things. As part of the first school rugby tour of Australia, I got to see a part of the world, compete against schools and meet people that I may never have done otherwise. One of the boys we played against from a school in Melbourne is my best friend to this day!
I never really knew what I wanted to do, but I had always been relatively technically minded and liked technology. After having tried to set up a company (unsuccessfully) aged 20, I began working in Telecommunications & IT – something I had learned about and enjoyed at School. After working in the industry with BT for 8 years, I decided to start another company of my own in 2012. In the 5 years since we started, we have grown the company to become the largest in our part of the Telecommunications industry in the UK, delivering our services to businesses in more than 28 countries across 4 continents and winning multiple industry awards on the way.
King’s gave me the foundation to build my company and my life as it is now. It gave me an educational foundation coupled with the confidence and belief in myself to dream bigger, which is something that I have found invaluable in both my personal and professional life.
Growing up, there wasn’t a lot of money around for me and my brother, but there were a lot of books. Mum had been a single parent since I was a toddler, and things were often a bit tight. I remember there was a time when mum was so upset that she didn’t know how she was going to pay the utility bill, that I pretended to the neighbour at the front door that she’d “just popped out.” But there was never any shortage of adventures to be had or beauties to enjoy on our sagging bookshelves. Honestly (and if it’s not horribly twee), that made it a rich childhood indeed.
Neither of my parents had a degree but Mum was determined that I would, if I wanted to. She was sure I wasn’t really fulfilling my potential at high school (“trying”, I think she said), and looking back, she was right… (don’t tell her I said so).
I was lucky enough to get a scholarship and a bursary to join King’s in the sixth-form. There was no way I could ever have gone without that, and I actually can still remember that letter arriving (the paper was a warm, creamy colour). It made everything possible.
Arriving at King’s was wonderful – College Green like an oasis in the city, the welcome warm and genuine. But I was convinced I’d committed social suicide within the week. On my first day I got my shoe stuck in a grating and was hopping about on one foot like a mad thing (until a student I’d just met spent a good ten minutes winkling it out for me) and then two days later I won a prize in an essay competition for everyone starting to study English Literature at A level, which was surely ruinous (instead, people I’d never met wandered over to say ‘well done!’, and to introduce themselves because I was new).
Over time I began to realise that some of my peers were planning to be doctors, lawyers, something mysterious in the City. I can’t explain how astonished I was. It seems dense now, but it’s easy to underestimate how, at sixteen, your surroundings can so dramatically shape your sense of what ‘people like me’ might do. It was revelatory, and it took a little time to sink in. By the time that university applications came round, I remember my House Mistress and also my English teacher seeking me out to ask why on earth I hadn’t been at the Oxbridge interview preparation class. I hadn’t realised it was an option (for me).
A few years later on, I graduated from Oxford University with a 1st class degree in English Literature. I’ve spent 3 years in management consulting at OC&C Strategy Consultants (one of those jobs I didn’t think ‘people like me’ did), went on to lead strategy at the Royal Academy of Arts, and now find myself working daily with the philosopher Alain de Botton at The School of Life. I loved my time at King’s – but I don’t yearn to go back; I’m enjoying where it got me to far too much.
I don’t think I could possibly overstate the importance of the Bursary Campaign. It was simply transformative. Any gift towards it is an act of profound generosity to a young person’s future; I wish them every possible success in life.
From an early age I was always interested in buildings and structures of all shapes and sizes. I was fascinated by their construction and hoped that I could one day be part of a team that would be responsible for the design and construction of such developments. On a visit to America my imagination was fuelled even more with the sheer enormity of the buildings. Rome also gave me a fantastic insight to the majestic flair and design of the many structures around the city. I was also very interested in great engineering projects such as the Channel Tunnel which was a feat of engineering brilliance from conception to delivery of the completed project.
My parents were determined to give me the best education possible in order that I could achieve my goal in the engineering world. We researched local schools and visited them on open days to view the facilities and how high expectations were for incoming students. Kings was our number one choice as it seemed to have everything one could wish for in academic, sporting and social facilities although it must be said a sportsman I was not, I tried most of the many sports on offer but even with the great facilities they did not manage to enhance my sporting prowess. I found Kings to be a great learning school in all fields making some very good friends, some of whom I am still in regular contact with. It was for me a happy friendly environment.
As my chosen field was in engineering it was important that I performed well in maths and physics. I did find the academic side a bit of a struggle at first but did get into the swing of it as I progressed through the school. This progression was made possible because of the skill and application of the teaching staff who happily went the extra mile to help anyone who asked for it. The House Master was extremely important and helpful in all areas of school life, he could be approached at any time about any aspect of the school curriculum and day to day extra activities. Kings provided many after school clubs and workshops. Mr Keyes (Headmaster) was a very learned man. I was particularly struck at his ability to remember all the pupils’ names, which was no mean feat. He was a strong believer in bringing out the best in all pupils.
Being lucky to take advantage of the bursary facility allowed me to complete my education to a satisfactory level and acceptance into university in my chosen field of Civil Engineering. The knowledge gained especially in maths and physics was indeed a great basis to take on the complexities of engineering maths. University was now a greater challenge for me, it being my first time away from home and new friends to make. However, the confidence gained through my time at Kings saw me through and motivated me to succeed and achieve the very best I could. I left university with a Masters Degree in Civil Engineering and afforded me the opportunity to venture into my chosen area.
I now work for a major engineering company in the North West gaining valuable experience with the different aspects of my job. I am at present working towards Chartership and will strive to be qualified as a chartered engineer in the next two years. The variety of work is immense and with the HS2 project on the horizon the challenge for the future and the prospects are exciting to say the least.