Like most young people, my journey into secondary school began in year six. Everybody was overwhelmed with excitement knowing that we would be going to our local ‘big school’ together.
Unfortunately, my local catchment school was considered to be very poor performing which didn’t seem suitable for the potential my parents believed I had. After learning this, my parents began to desperately search for other local schools in the hope that I would be able to obtain a place outside our catchment area. We visited several schools, yet none of them seemed suitable for my needs or talents at the time. It was then that my primary school Headteacher suggested Ipswich School to us. In my earlier years. It had previously been suggested that a private or grammar school education may be more suited to me, but it had been completely out of the question due to my family’s financial situation. However, this time, we were made aware of the Ipswich School bursary which would allow me to flourish in an environment which would provide me with the opportunities, challenges and support that I needed.
My Ipswich School journey began with me taking the Senior School entrance exams, followed by various interviews with both the Headmaster and Deputy Head. After visiting the School and seeing the extensive facilities, my family and I did not believe it would be possible for me to gain a place. Despite this, we anxiously waited for a potential letter of acceptance. The day the letter arrived confirming my place, I was excited, but at the same time extremely nervous. Not only was it a new school, but coming from a completely different background to the majority of students made me wonder if I would fit in. Once I had arrived, kitted out in my new uniform, it was hard to tell the difference between people’s backgrounds. Not only did I not feel like an outsider, it makes the School a more diverse and welcoming place, especially for new students.
During my time there, the School had an extensive support system throughout every year of study. At the beginning this was embodied in my form tutors, the school matron and the fantastic pastoral care team. And later, I was fortunate enough to be able to discuss personal aspects of my life with the Sixth Form staff, my subject teachers, and in particular, the Head of Boarding.
“I am now proud to say that I am the first person in my family to have obtained a place at university.”
Speaking of boarding, in year nine my family’s circumstances changed yet again, meaning we had to move out of the area. It was at this point that I thought my Ipswich School journey would come to an end, as it wasn’t viable to commute so far everyday. This is when the generosity of my bursary exceeded all expectations and I was offered the chance to board on a weekly basis, in order to keep my place at the School. This was of course completely funded and allowed me to continue at the School right through Sixth Form. The boarding house became my second home, and this is wholeheartedly due to the welcoming nature of the staff at Westwood. In particular, the Head of Boarding, Mrs Christie, who provided endless support and a listening ear during my teenage years. The boarding house also gave me more opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities and days out.
Alongside the activities provided at Westwood, one of the most memorable experiences I had during my time at the School was the opportunity that Thursday afternoon activities provided. On Thursday afternoons, students can take part in an activity of their choice depending on what interests them. Some of these choices included journalism, drama, CCF, or in my case primary school volunteering. I found this to be a very enjoyable experience, so much so that I pursued it for four years. This allowed me to gain valuable work experience and it helped me to decide on a potential career path. I believe that this was the key to me being offered places to study education at all five universities that I applied to. In my opinion, I had a distinct advantage over other applicants due to the vast amount of work experience Ipswich School allowed me to gain.
“Ipswich School has provided me with extensive support and a wide range of opportunities which would not have been available to me elsewhere.”
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the School and the bursary fund for all it has done for me. Without the assistance of my Ipswich School bursary, I could never have imagined achieving as much as I have.