Posted: 5 June, 2019

Funding a Bright Future

Alumnae, Blog, General, News, Senior School, Sixth Form

The cost of private schooling can range significantly across the UK but there is no doubt that wherever you live, for many the fees can simply be prohibitive. Fortunately, financial assistance is granted to thousands of families every year, scholarship and bursary programmes around the country allowing pupils from less affluent backgrounds to benefit from the exceptional teaching and levels of opportunity that exist within some of the country’s finest schools. For those lucky recipients, there is no doubt that the benefits can be life-changing.

From Benin City to Senior Legal Counsel

Isoken (Soké) Alli-Usman was born in Benin City in Nigeria but grew up in Vauxhall, South London. When she first applied to Putney High School GDST, no one in her neighbourhood had even heard of the school, let alone been entered for the exam. Soké did not let that perturb her and Putney awarded her a place entirely on merit, having been impressed with her both in the exam and at interview. Unable to afford the fees, Soké was awarded a full bursary and joined Year 7 in 1996. She quickly fitted in and made friends throughout the school, excelling in her studies and developing a particular love of poetry and music, and regularly competing in tennis and athletics. Her natural leadership qualities made her an obvious choice for Head Girl, a role which she performed with gusto in her final year.

The years that Soké spent at Putney High gave her access to a first class education and the broadest of opportunities; but more than that, they taught her that there need be no limit to her aspirations. Soké went on to train at one of the best law firms in the UK and then at one of the most respected international law firms in the US. Today, she is a qualified lawyer, working in the field of international energy as Senior Legal Counsel at Globeleq.

 “All of this was only possible because a bursary allowed me to go to Putney where I was given the belief I could achieve my goals. I was taught to develop resilience and be pro-active. My school gave me the tools to achieve. Putney shaped my life. It has a special place in my heart.”

Soké’s story is a very happy one; it is always rewarding to hear the impact that a bursary can have on a pupil’s life, and let’s not forget the enormous advantages that these allowances can also bring to the schools that make this provision. Bursaries shape the dynamics within the schools themselves, fostering a culture of inclusion and broadening the horizons of all those that work and study there – better for everyone in so many ways.

We are proud to say that at Putney, there are many other similar success stories. Our bursary scheme, made possible through the Girls’ Day School Trust (GDST), enables us to provide life-changing financial support for girls of modest means, where necessary providing up to 100% of the fees and additional assistance to help pay for uniform and extras such as music lessons and international trips. These are so much more than just the ‘icing on the cake’; being able to take part in the enormous co-curricular offering within schools is for every pupil an essential part of fitting in – helping them to grab with both hands the opportunities that a first class education has to offer.

Education is not just about academic excellence. Life at school is a precious few years in which knowledge and experience are laid at your feet: the chance to try out new things, find your passion and flex your muscles in anything from a cappella to coding. There is a real spirit in the girls that walk through Putney’s doors, and when we see the bright spark and inquisitiveness that we know will thrive here, we will always do our utmost to help that child succeed.

Currently at Putney, one in five students receives some kind of financial assistance. Although we are academically selective, we are “means blind” and do everything we can to ensure that a parent’s ability to afford fees is never a barrier to education or opportunity.

Removing obstacles to a fantastic education is fundamental to what we do. We want every girl to make her way in the world, equipped with the curiosity, confidence and love of learning that will help her to achieve her goals; we believe strongly that the ability to afford an education should never be an impediment to that.  Only last year, one leaver and bursary recipient said the following:

“I have had a world-class education and partaken in life-changing trips. I have had the chance to be taught by passionate teachers and meet amazing people. I will always be grateful to the people who helped make this possible.”

Need we say more?

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