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01/01

Giving Back: Bursaries

Lynn Frank taught Maths at South Hampstead for over 30 years; she is now a school governor and a passionate supporter of our bursary programme.

Here she explains why she joined South Hampstead’s bursary board and wants to play her part in doubling our current bursary provision by the school’s 150th anniversary in 2026.

“Education is one of the main drivers of social mobility and the reason why I am supporting bursaries at South Hampstead. I would not be where I am today without the educational opportunities I received during my lifetime.

Education is one of the main drivers of social mobility.

My parents were both refugees. They left Austria (mother) and Germany (father) just before the Second World War. My mother always wanted to be a doctor and had the necessary academic skills. She was very lucky to spend a year at a boarding school in Norfolk but then had to train as a tailor and cutter as it was essential that she should earn her keep. My father lasted a year in secondary school and then became an engineering apprentice. I fear he would have been a tearaway no matter what.

When I was born, we all lived in one room, sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities with the other residents. This was common in the 1950s. There were a lot of people who had very few possessions and even less money. Belsize Park, West Hampstead, even parts of Hampstead, were poor and run down. It is hard to imagine now. I was sent to Holy Trinity Primary School, yes the one next door. Many of my classmates were poor and many were refugees. As now, you could hear many languages spoken in the playground and at the school gate.

At the time, South Hampstead was a Direct Grant school – that meant the government paid for a number of places at the school. My best friend Ann was awarded the place available to girls from Holy Trinity. I passed the 11+ and went to Camden School for Girls. I was lucky, very lucky. After school, I went to York University to study Maths. The government gave me a grant to study and paid my fees.

When the Direct Grant Scheme ended in 1976, the Assisted Places scheme was introduced. Children from poor homes could apply for places at private schools and then, if accepted, obtain means-tested help from the government. Schools like South Hampstead often took 20% of the girls from local primary schools, who saw these offers as a means to move forward in their lives. They were hungry to learn and to achieve the qualifications that would give them the opportunities to study at the best universities and lead to successful careers.

It is that hunger to learn and the diversity of background that I want to see replicated at South Hampstead today. We need, obviously, to maintain high academic standards but we also need the challenge of students with a really wide range of backgrounds to bring to classroom discussions. We rarely hear from a girl who might not get a meal at home each night unless she makes it. We rarely have a girl who cannot play team sports because she has a part-time job that helps to feed the family. We rarely have a girl who has not done her homework because she had to sit with a sick sibling because mum was doing a night shift. Such girls would open many an eye to the reality of a lot of lives as they are lived by citizens of this country. Diversity can be about ethnicity or religion or social experience. When we create bursaries to widen the scope of our intake, we offer life chances to a few and an education to all.

When we create bursaries to widen the scope of our intake, we offer life chances to a few and an education to all.

South Hampstead is a very special place. It sits close to the heart of one of the greatest cosmopolitan cities of the world. It has much to offer its students, their parents and the wider community. I am keen to encourage as many former pupils as possible, who have benefitted one way or another from what South Hampstead, to help. Together, we can help other bright girls, from the greatest possible variety of backgrounds, to have those same life chances. Many of our alumnae are changing the world we live in. Let’s all help future generations to take their turn.”

To find out more about how you can support bursaries at South Hampstead visit our Support Us page or contact Development@shhs.gdst.net.

 

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