King Edward VI High School for Girls, Birmingham has won the Times Educational Supplement’s prestigious national award for Independent Schools’ Fund-Raising Initiative of the Year. The award, presented by TES editor Ann Mroz at a ceremony hosted by broadcaster Gyles Brandreth at the Grosvenor House Hotel, celebrated the school’s innovative pupil-led campaign to widen access to girls from all backgrounds by raising funds for Assisted Places. These have dropped drastically since the withdrawal of government funding. The year-round initiative included a video, social media campaign and telethon, undertaken by a group of six Lower Sixth formers speaking to alumnae during the October half-term. This raised over £35,000 in just six days, which will help to fund a place for a girl to attend the school from September 2018, who could not otherwise have come, for financial reasons.
“We’re incredibly proud of all our girls who took part in the campaign,” said KEHS Principal Ann Clark, “and delighted that the initiative has received this well-deserved national recognition. Our student callers are our best advocates, and they spent over 70 hours each, cheerfully making hundreds of calls to Old Edwardians, many of whom relished the contact and emailed to thank them. There was a tremendous atmosphere throughout the telethon, as our callers want to make it possible for the next generation of girls to have the same life-changing experience, irrespective of their parents' financial situation.”
Some of the student callers had themselves received financial help to enable them to come to KEHS and, where possible, they were matched with Old Girls with similar interests, so that they could ask for careers advice. One girl was even given a reading list by a former pupil before her university interviews - and went on to win a place for Medicine at Cambridge. Old Edwardian Judy Dyke, a top Birmingham lawyer and philanthropist, chairs the KEHS Trust and herself benefited from an Assisted Place.
“When I was here in the 1960s, most of us had free places, as this was a Direct Grant school,” she explained. “I couldn’t have come otherwise. Neither of my parents had been to university but I went on to study Law at Birmingham University and eventually became Senior Director of Tyndallwoods Solicitors in Birmingham, thanks to the great opportunity I had coming here. So many of us, including our team of callers are massively grateful for the chances we have had and want to provide the same opportunities for other bright girls.”
Student caller Cerian Richmond Jones, 18, from Solihull is equally thankful. She won a Foundation scholarship to KEHS which provided the funds to cover part of her fees and after a distinguished school career including a national creative writing award and an Arkwright Engineering scholarship, she has just had an offer to read PPE (Politics Philosophy and Economics) at Balliol College, Oxford, one of 17 Oxbridge offers KEHS girls received this year.
“I’d been at a poor state primary,” she remembered, “and, without funding, I couldn’t have come here and had these amazing opportunities. Everyone works hard at KEHS. They want to learn and the teaching is inspirational. The extra-curricular activities are superb too. I’ve really enjoyed debating and taking part in Living History events. Being part of the student caller team was a real highlight as you feel you’re getting the chance to give something back. Winning the TES Award is the icing on the cake.”