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Bursary scheme at South Hampstead lauded by former student

South Hampstead High School’s bursary scheme has been championed by a former student who grasped the opportunity with both hands.

As part of its bid to cater for students from “all walks of life,” the independent girls’ school is encouraging parents to look at South Hampstead’s bursary scheme for its Sixth Form, which can cover the entire cost of fees, school essentials and curriculum trips.

Bursaries are awarded on academic merit and the value of the bursary is related to the finances of the candidate’s family.

Datshiane Navanayagam was awarded a bursary from the age of 11. She went on to become head girl of the school before leaving in 2005 to read History at Trinity Hall, Cambridge University.

Now serving as a school governor, Datshiane feels the “all-encompassing” bursary was a godsend during a “tumultuous time” for her family.

“My dad was disabled, he’d had a stroke,” she said. “We had lost our home so were in social housing. Things were very difficult for us. I was awarded a full bursary and it meant that my parents didn’t have to worry financially about my education.

“People sometimes don’t realise the disincentive of things like the cost of uniform and travel, which you still have to meet.

“I always felt like I had a fantastic opportunity, but more recently it has been brought home to me how important my time here was.”

Jamie Waller, who is at the helm of the sixth form, wants to welcome students from all over London to take their A Levels at the school, which can offer “more trips than a travel agent,” boasts more than 100 clubs and societies and has a broad and varied external speakers programme unique to the Sixth Form, including many renowned specialists in their field, and contributing to the students’ wider intellectual enrichment.

“We are really keen to attract high calibre students from all backgrounds,” he said. “Our A Level results are excellent and South Hampstead is consistently ranked among the top performing schools in London, as well as nationally. Typically, more than 15% of our leavers go on to Oxbridge.”

“We do get a healthy number of applicants for the Sixth Form, but I’m surprised we don’t have more given the opportunity that is available here.

“The school opens doors through our alumnae network and is a stepping stone to university and the world of work. Our Futures Programme provides each student with tailor-made support and advice for higher education and careers.”

Datshiane added: “Along with the academic range which is great, I got a massive sense of confidence here of knowing who I am and what I want to do, as well as the courage to go out there and try different things.

“There is a sense of pride in being a woman and thinking I can do anything. Here no-one put any limits on what I could do. It was only when I started working that other people put limits on what I could do as a woman. I was equipped to deal with this thanks to the outstanding education I received at South Hampstead.”

After leaving Cambridge University Datshiane went on to work at the BBC, securing a place on the prestigious Production Trainee Scheme where over 4000 applicants competed for just 11 places. She now reports for BBC Panorama and Channel 4 Dispatches and presents programmes for the BBC World Service and Radio 4.

For more information on 11+ and 16+ bursaries at South Hampstead, please visit

Article first appeared in Ham & High, March 2018

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