RGS Bursary Campaign
The RGS Bursary Campaign, supported entirely by voluntary donations, has supported almost 400 students since the campaign was launched in 2002. Currently, 76 RGS students are benefiting from bursary funding, the vast majority on a 100% bursary in line with our commitment to direct our finite funds to those who demonstrate the greatest need. The immediate practical impact is tangible.
And yet, if this story is to continue, long term, very long term, we need to grow the fund both in terms of financial strength and the numbers of bursary students. From the Penrith generation of 1939 - 1944, to the current day, Old Novocastrians provide valuable support to the Bursary Campaign, along with current and former parents and staff, local charitable trusts and North East businesses. We are grateful for every donation which we spend with great care. Please join us.
Chair of RGS Bursary Campaign
The RGS has enabled me to fly!
I was born and raised in Syria where I lived for more than fourteen years. I had a relatively peaceful childhood, spending my time between books, friends and family. Entering my second decade, the peaceful childhood shattered: life became catastrophe, devastation and fear. Until peace eventually came back into my life.
Having witnessed four years of the worst civil war in history I really thought I had no future left; until I decided to leave the country in 2015. Luckily, I managed to arrive in the UK successfully with my dad after a lot of effort and hard work. Then I could see that maybe I have a future again, something to work for.
With no ability to speak English, starting at a community school in North Shields was highly challenging. I would stay behind school for an hour or two every single day just to ask questions or to have something clarified. I am very grateful for my teachers who were always keen to help. Within two months I was able to speak English well enough to sit my first public GCSE exam and achieve an A grade. I made new friends and enjoyed doing so. A teacher at this school noticed me, and she saw in my hard work the potential to be at RGS. She advised me to apply and told me about the bursary scheme. I could not be more grateful to her for this advice.
RGS allowed me to explore many things I cannot imagine being able to explore elsewhere, at that stage of my education. For example, the Plus Programme on Tuesday afternoon where we had a lecture about life-related advice: financing, cooking, inspirational talks and much more. This kickstarted the journey to learn many skills that I found essential later on. I realised the importance of extracurricular activities at RGS where everyone has many! Not only did the extracurricular activities made available by RGS strengthen my university application, they were also a great way to look after myself and take some time off the hard work. In addition to the excellent academic teaching, there is the outstanding career advice from the careers department.
I was enlightened at RGS by having the opportunity to be more involved in literature and to enrich my cultural integration in this country by exploring work by national icons such as Shakespeare, Beckett and Stoppard. I was also able to visit theatres in London, including Shakespeare’s Globe, during a school trip. Thanks to the bursary campaign I was able to get involved in this, which is one of my best experiences at RGS. Being a student of science, I vitally needed this exposure to literature and humanities. The necessity of humanity and literature to everyone is a strong belief that I hold right now, and this need for humanity is something I am an advocate for at university.
I was delighted to be made an offer to study medicine at Leeds. I thrived during my first two terms, spending my time between studying, swimming and hanging out with friends on the weekends. The early clinical exposure to hospitals and GP clinics allows me to consolidate my scientific learning at lectures. The weekly anatomy classes and clinical work sessions on campus expands my knowledge of the human body. I particularly enjoy anatomy and find it the most interesting aspect of the course. One of our modules (IDEALS: Innovation, Development, Enterprise and Leadership, Safety) encourages us to be more reflective of our daily experiences and events that make us feel happy, sad and other emotions. As a result, I have become more self-aware of my feelings. In addition, the rich cultural diversity at university strengthens my connection with many parts of my identity. For example, students from all over the world are proud of who they are, at the same time accepting each other’s differences. Personally, I find it more comforting when I go to the prayer room with my fellow Muslim students instead of going on my own.
Growing up in a war zone, and having experienced medical emergency at first hand, I have realised and understood the vital role of a doctor to society. This is why I love studying medicine at university right now. An experience that RGS is a main contributor to.
The RGS has enabled me to fly!
It was only after I started my first job that I began to realise how my time at RGS had helped me in so many ways: I had confidence, ambition, self-respect, and respect for others.
One of the best gifts I ever received has been an education at RGS. I come from a single parent family and education was of huge importance for my mum. Unfortunately she could never afford the fees of a top independent school, but was encouraged to nominate me for a bursary place.
Thankfully, due to the generosity of Sir Peter Ogden (through The Ogden Trust) and The Hospital of St Mary the Virgin Trust, I was able to attend RGS on a bursary.
I went on to study at Newcastle University, gaining an Economics degree. On graduating, I entered the Financial Services Industry, joining a relatively small local finance firm. Whilst there, I became an expert in a relatively niche field of investments and wrote a textbook on my specialist area for the largest exam board in Financial Services, Chartered Insurance Institute (CII).
Currently, I work for True Potential, a Fin Tech firm based in Newcastle which works with around 20% of UK Financial Advisers and their clients. I am the Senior Pension Transfer Specialist within the Wealth Management division, and was awarded the Young Achiever of the Year Award in 2017 from the Newcastle Chartered Insurance Institute, in recognition of my progress within the industry.
It was only after I started my first job that I began to realise how my time at RGS had helped me in so many ways: I had confidence, ambition, self-respect, and respect for others. All qualities instilled in me thanks to RGS. How different my life could have been if I hadn’t been accepted into RGS. I don’t think many young people consider the type of education they are receiving, how it can be different from one school to the next, or, what impact the quality of the education you receive can have on your life.
A bursary at RGS enables young people, like me, to access the very best quality of education, creating life-changing opportunities.
It was my dream to become a doctor, and thanks to my bursary, I had the opportunity and support to apply to study medicine at Newcastle University.Without an RGS bursary, it would not have been feasible for me to study at the RGS, and for that, I am grateful to everyone who has contributed to the RGS Bursary Campaign.
It was my dream to become a doctor, and thanks to my bursary, I had the opportunity and support to apply to study medicine at Newcastle University.
The academic environment at RGS was both challenging and stimulating, with teachers being knowledgeable and enthusiastic. They were not only supportive, but very encouraging of my drams and pursuits. For this, a lot of my achievements are attributed to them. I wasn’t discriminated because of being a bursary student, which meant I could study on my own merits and had all of the same opportunities as the rest of my classmates.
I made lifelong friends; expanded my love of languages by learning Latin; joined unique clubs and societies, such as dance, choir and Amnesty International; was involved in school productions including Jesus Christ Superstar, The Tempest and Les Miserables; volunteered for The Bling Society; completed my Duke of Edinburgh awards; and went on invaluable trips such as the China Exchange, World Challenge to Ethiopia, and choir tours. All of this helped me become a mature and well-rounded person, and my love for global health has surely come from my experiences at RGS as well.
The kindness and generosity of individuals and associations who contribute to the RGS bursary campaign is inspirational, and receiving such kindness is humbling. Thank you so much, you really change lives such as mine, and I will be forever grateful to you.
RGS was a tough learning curve, but the work ethic it instilled in me has me set up for life.It is difficult to overstate what impact my RGS Bursary has had on my life and career.
I went to a state school until the Sixth Form, was always top of my class, and thought I’d have no issue getting a place at a top university. Within a few days of being at RGS, I realised that was a naïve view. At RGS, I was introduced to an environment where the calibre of teaching – and general conversation amongst students – was such that I consistently felt challenged, both in the classroom and in my extracurricular endeavours. I was taught by teachers who knew what I needed to do to get into top universities beyond anything I had realised, was surrounded by students who were engaged with current affairs that I had never experienced in people of my age, and was studying in an environment where I was encouraged realise my potential beyond what I thought I was able to achieve.
I left RGS to realise my dream of studying law at Oxford University. I graduated three years later with a First class honours degree and awards for two of my modules. Even if I had been able to get to Oxford without first moving to RGS, which is very far from certain, I wouldn’t have been prepared for the kind of academic study that was required to excel. RGS was a tough learning curve, but the work ethic it instilled in me has me set up for life.
In September, I qualified as a solicitor, working in the London office of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, having spent two years on a training programme in both London and Washington.DC. I am now an Associate in what is widely recognised as the world-leading Competition Law practice, advising clients on antitrust aspects of their businesses. Even still, I owe some degree of responsibility to my time at RGS, which would not have been possible without a bursary. Ever since the RGS Economics tour, and in particular the visit to the then UK competition regulator, that I wanted to practise this area of law; and, had I not made the connections I did at RGS, and subsequently gone on to start my legal career at Square One Law in Jesmond, the door to City law firms would perhaps never have opened.
I was taught to think more broadly, to consider cultural and philosophical references, and to generally expand my horizons.As a barrister, I find myself privy to some of the most intricate and interesting aspects of our society, and individual lives. For example, I am currently a junior barrister for the Grenfell Tower Inquiry, and have previously worked with more senior barristers on larger cases, including: the Supreme Court judicial review of employment tribunal fees; challenges to the legality of state benefits and immigration policies; and inquests investigating the role of our state in individual deaths.
Where does the RGS come into all of this? Well in truth, I have always had good grades and been argumentative (in a good way, I like to tell myself), but when I arrived at the RGS I was yet to learn how to apply those traits productively.
At RGS my arguments were challenged by those who were more intelligent and articulate than me, which forced me to focus on the loopholes of my logic, pre-empting the rebuttal. For the first time, I was not merely taught the syllabus and how to pass an exam, but actually taught the subject; I was taught to think more broadly, to consider cultural and philosophical references, and to generally expand my horizons.
I now use these skills every day: for example, when I am digging for material to persuade a judge why a policy should be declared lawful or unlawful. I will often utilise broader philosophical, political and moral notions, all of which govern a surprising amount of our daily lives (political or otherwise). Or when I am cross-examining a witness: I try to plan several questions ahead, planting tripwires and nuggets of undermining material.
It would be a great injustice not to mention the people that make up the RGS. I attended the Sixth Form, which were two of the best years of my life, and certainly the best two years of my education. I have made lifelong friends, from whom I have learnt a great deal, and I am a better person for knowing them.
Being an ON is a lifelong affiliation, and I will be happy if I can give back only a fraction of what that affiliation gave to me. As a bursary holder, I know that I owe a substantial amount of my success to my time at RGS, and the generosity of the donor who supported my bursary.
The kindness and immense generosity of the donors whom I have never met are particularly inspiring to me, and I always endeavour to pass on this kindness to others and continue their generosity.
My RGS bursary allowed me to fully access and experience all the opportunities the RGS has to offer without the financial burden and stress for my mother.
I never felt that my financial background separated me from my peers or hindered me from taking unmissable opportunities giving me the confidence to take these when I could.
I went on many school trips, from Classics to Biology excursions, I was part of the senior prefect team and the Classics prefect team, and I also gave back to the community by being a member of the Amnesty International Society.
The academic support I received both from the knowledgeable teachers and the resources available at RGS was absolutely critical, but it was the encouragement of teachers and staff who helped me apply to study Classics at Oxford, where I am today.
Being able to immerse myself in both the academic and extra-curricular activities not only developed my ability as a student, but it also gave me opportunities to connect with people who have varying interests and make truly wonderful friends.
The kindness and immense generosity of the donors whom I have never met are particularly inspiring to me, and I always endeavour to pass on this kindness to others and continue their generosity. I will be forever grateful to all those involved with the RGS Bursary Campaign and for the immeasurable help they have given me.
I am so grateful to all of you who support the RGS Bursary Campaign, as I really believe that my time at RGS has changed my life and set me on the lifepath I am on.Music has always been a massive part of my life, and played a significant part in why I applied for a RGS bursary.
My previous school sadly didn’t have great music provision; we didn’t even have regular rehearsals for choir. Looking round RGS at an Open Day, I remember the orchestra performing and knew immediately that I wanted to come to this school. One of the Music Teachers took time to speak to me and my mum and reassured us that bursary support might be available.
I didn’t know what to expect of the school, but from the very beginning, I had a brilliant time. My Upper Sixth buddy looked after me during my first few weeks, and became a good friend throughout my time at RGS. I got involved in a variety of activities, including choirs, orchestras, cookery club, trampolining, voluntary service and plenty more. There was so much choice, and if there wasn’t something, you would be encouraged to set something up! I was also supported to go on school trips, travelling abroad for choir tours and to see Shakespeare plays.
My self-confidence grew as I was given the opportunity to take part in music and sports I enjoyed, and also took on the role of a Prefect, which came with plenty of responsibility. I also volunteered within the Junior School and at a local primary school; I’m sure these experiences influenced my career as I now work with children in choirs and music lessons. I applied to study Music at Oxford University and gained an Organ Scholarship at Worcester College, something I don’t think would have happened without the great teaching and support I received at RGS.
After graduation I later went on to complete a Masters at the Royal College of Music. I now work in London as an Organist, Conductor and Teacher, and am passionate about broadening access to music for those who would not have the opportunities otherwise.
A 21st Century school with as broad a social mix as in my Direct Grant days will be more balanced for all concerned and go a little way to aiding social mobility. The Bursary Campaign helps to facilitate this.I have given to the RGS Bursary Campaign since it began in 2002.
I was educated here myself as a student from 1973 to 1974 when the Direct Grant system was in operation. Without the grant my Dad would not have been able to afford my place.
To be honest, I came aged 8 as a Geordie Gateshead boy with a few chips on his shoulder about the rich kids he was mixing with! The Junior School years were difficult but I found my feet and then came to immensely appreciate the teaching I received, the brilliant people I met and the opportunities I was given. I experienced what the Bidding at the old Founder’s Service spoke of – staff with ‘understanding hearts and love of sound learning’.
So, I partly give to the Bursary Campaign out of nostalgic gratitude for what the RGS did for me and the desire for members of the Geordie tribe in a similar situation to mine to experience the same.
As someone who leans somewhat to the left politically I have some reservations about the independent system and see the point in critiques such as those of the Sutton Trust about entrenched elitism. It would be great, would it not, if all schools could provide an RGS quality of education appropriate to the needs of its students?
But this is not an ideal world in any way and while things are as they are, I believe access to the RGS for the materially less well off needs to be maintained. A 21st Century school with as broad a social mix as in my Direct Grant days will be more balanced for all concerned and go a little way to aiding social mobility. The Bursary Campaign helps to facilitate this.
I can’t be all that anti private schools, as I have worked at RGS in some incarnation or another for 40 years. Staff do not
generally know which students are on bursaries and rightly so. Having said that, sometimes we do get to know and I have
often been struck by how much bursary students appreciate being here and make the most of their time. Some of
their stories are published in ONA Magazine and they make moving and inspiring reading.
The RGS in 2019 is a different beast from the one I joined in 1963. However, it is still a great place and can still claim to be – in the words of the now defunct School Song – the ‘School of the North’ and potentially a ‘Mother and Maker of men (sic)’. I give to the Bursary Campaign to help enable young people to access the
opportunities it affords.
You can support us by donating to one of the followings funds:
Hardship Fund and PPE Appeal
We are very mindful of the potential impact that national measures to address the pandemic may be having on our families' personal finances. Undoubtedly every family will have been affected to some extent but, we know of some families experiencing severe financial difficulty.
In addition to our Bursary Campaign we have established a Hardship Fund and PPE Material Appeal. We encourage anybody who can make a contribution to any of the above funds, whether big or small, to either contact our Development Director, Susan Beck, at firstname.lastname@example.org or to make a donation below.
Hardship Funds will support our Bursary families who are particularly vulnerable, or current RGS families in significant need at this unprecedented time. PPE Appeal funds will help us to purchase raw materials, in order to manufacture face masks on the school's 3D printers.
All such donations are payable to the Royal Grammar School Educational Trust (registered charity 508285) and are eligible for Gift Aid for UK taxpayers. Any surplus from the Hardship Fund or PPE Appeal will be allocated to the RGS Educational Trust's General Bursary Campaign Fund, unless you notify us that you do not wish for this to happen (please use the comment box below).
We are incredibly fortunate that the RGS has such a strong community of parents, staff, pupils and Old Novocastrians and we are grateful for your continued support to ensure that we all get through this very challenging period together, your gifts will make a significant difference to the lives of others in a moment of crisis.
Could you help disadvantaged children from across the North East with their education? We welcome donations of all sizes to fund our means-tested bursaries. By donating £13,164, you'd be supporting a bursary-funded child for one full year of their education.
You can donate through one-off gifts, standing orders, grants from charitable trusts and foundations, company donations and legacies. Download a legacy notification form if you wish to leave an amount in your will. Your company may also be able to gift match your donations, please enquire to find out more. If you would like to donate regularly, please download and complete a pledge form to set up a standing order.
You can also donate directly online at the bottom of this page.
If you currently live in the USA and would like information about tax-effective giving, or for any other queries please contact email@example.com
Cathedral Pew Campaign
You've done it! Thanks to your generous donations, we've already managed to crowd fund the £2,000 needed for the cost of the pew, its transportation to RGS and the cost of a plaque.
As a result of this, we will no longer be taking donations for this particular campaign.
Huge thank you to everyone who donated, we can't wait to see the pew in its new home.
The school is grateful to hundreds of individuals, Old Novos, parents, charitable trusts and companies who have already made gifts to the campaign and helped us to raise over £7.3million and provided bursaries to over 375 children so far.
To celebrate the first 10 years of fundraising for the RGS Bursary Campaign, a report was compiled to mark this significant milestone.
The following individuals and organisations have been made Fellows of the Royal Grammar School Educational Trust by the Governors of RGS due to their commitment and substantial support in making a difference to less advantaged children and their families:
The Catherine Cookson Charitable Trust
Christine and Brian Daglish
The Northern Rock Foundation
Susan and David Ratliff
Garfield Weston Foundation
The Benfield Motors Charitable Trust
Dr Bernard Trafford
The Advani family
The Reece Foundation
The Sir James Knott Trust
Peter and Wuliang Walker