Can bursaries really change lives? Six eloquent young students tell their bursary success stories to Victoria Lambert 

Class Acts: FKA Twigs
FKA Twigs, St Edward’s Cheltenham alumni @ Shutterstock

Economist John Maynard Keynes won a scholarship to Eton. Screenwriter and director Richard Curtis was a scholar at Harrow, while footballer Tyrone Mings, (Aston Villa and England) benefited from a bursary to allow him to be educated at Millfield school.

Also at Millfield were Jonathan Joseph, England rugby player, and Sarah Winckless MBE, Olympic rower – both on bursaries. And scholarships helped singers FKA Twigs (St Edward’s Cheltenham) and Laura Marling (Leighton Park School) to enjoy their educations en route to stardom.

While it’s impossible to say if any would have achieved their fame had their education been different, there’s no doubt that able students given access to the highest quality education are off to a flying start.

Launching Millfield’s Discover Brilliance campaign, which aims to raise a £100m endowment fund by 2035 to fully fund 100 boarders in perpetuity at the Somerset boarding school early this year, Tyrone Mings revealed he truly felt that his schooling had given him a platform to achieve.

Mings, who attended Millfield between 2009-2011, said: ‘It’s something that’s close to my heart because I experienced it and I really believe there are a lot of opportunities that Millfield can create for young individuals, and we can all play our part in uncovering the next sporting or academic star.’

With that in mind, meet just some of the leaders and achievers of tomorrow, who have been given bursaries to kick start their futures.

Japheth Monzon, ACS Egham

Class Acts: ACS Egham
ACS Egham
Class Acts bursary success stories: Japheth

‘It was my dream school; it didn’t fall short of expectations’

Japheth says: I applied to ACS Egham because of the great reviews I heard from ACS alumni; it was presented as something of a dream school. When I arrived, it did not fall short of my expectations.

Studying the International Baccalaureate (IB) has given me more control over what I consider critical thinking skills. I am now able to research and apply evidence to my work, but also criticise my own work and learn from my experiences.

It has pushed me out of my boundaries and now I am able to speak my mind and debate with efficiency. I certainly see a difference in myself compared to my non-IB friends. While they specialised in the courses that they were taking, I have received a well-rounded and globally-informed education that has helped me to keep up with current affairs as well as general knowledge on topics such as Philippine history, biology and Spanish.

More generally, attending an international school has introduced me to certain perspectives that come from all around the globe. With a rich, wide range of international teachers, I could experience teaching styles preparing me for any university lecturer in the future.

ACS Egham (and its teachers) has encouraged me to get into a career based on law. It has inspired me to reach for places I would have never thought of if I had not joined.

Declan Bransby, Lancing College

Class Acts: Lancing College
Music at Lancing College
Class Acts bursary success stories: Declan

‘In a blink of an eye, I was at the heart of the community’

Declan says: I grew up locally and never realised that the huge chapel which I drove past was actually part of a school. I became more familiar with Lancing after my previous school told me about the Foundationers programme. Before I knew it, I was on my way to see the school for the first time.

Initially, I found the transition difficult. Not only was I new to the school, but it was a different style of learning, living and socialising. So much so that if it wasn’t for the support I got from the school and my family, I might have concluded Lancing wasn’t for me.

But I found my feet, made more friends, became a House Captain, a Prefect and Head of School. In a blink of an eye, I was at the heart of the Lancing community. This highlights that being a Foundationer would never limit your experience at the College, which shows the success of the programme.

I always felt supported at Lancing. Through regular catch-ups we got to know the other Foundationers in the school, share our experiences and build a closer relationship with the staff.

Lancing’s bursary programme carved a path for my future which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. I always wanted to go to university, but never imagined I would get into Imperial College. Lancing excelled when it came to university applications helping me achieve my offers.

Michael Akinde, Farleigh School

Class Acts: Farleigh
Farleigh School
Class Acts bursary success stories: Michael

‘People are really friendly and made me feel at home’  

Michael says: I come from Peckham, the best place because everybody knows everybody. My family is really loud but there is always something going on. Farleigh is a good match for me because my Catholic life is important. I feel relieved to know I have hope and trust in something bigger than myself.

I love history because it takes me into the past to learn about what has happened before. I hope my senior school – Prior Park College in Bath – is alive with the opportunities it can offer me. A place of colour to inspire me and an environment to carry on teaching me to be independent and proud of what I can do and be.

Farleigh has made me more sociable and I settled in quickly. After I leave school, I hope for a career in engineering.

Charlie Franks, Taunton School

Class Acts: Taunton School
Taunton School
Class Acts bursary success stories: Charlie

‘It was my dream school; it didn’t fall short of expectations’

Charlie says: I joined Taunton School in 2019 from a local school; when I visited with my mother we were met with complete warmth. We left feeling part of something special and my family and I were set on finding a way for me to attend this school.

Despite the academic accolades the school has, for me the pastoral care is not just spoken about but acted upon every day. I’m glad the school has supported me throughout my time here. However, it is not just about my experience, my friends also agree that TS’ student-staff relationships are very strong and we all feel safe enough to share our experiences and opinions.

Life at TS is very much individualistic for everyone; however, the opportunities the school offers are varied and can fit everyone. For me, I like the debating society, drama clubs and the music department.

It isn’t just clubs though, you can stretch yourself beyond that. For example, I also get involved in speech writing in my spare time. One of the things I am most proud of so far about my time at TS is a recent opportunity to speak publicly about homophobia, a topic that is important to me. I never would have had the opportunity to do this at my previous school. I worked alongside my English teacher and other staff to compose a speech and speak on the English Speaking Union Platform.

I am proud of the final result. It pushed me past my comfort zone, which follows the school’s key principles: Challenge, Nurture Inspire. I can say for certain that the support I have received is unrivalled. I am completely indebted to Taunton School.

Sonja Sander, Stowe

Class Acts: Stowe
Class Acts bursary success stories: Sonja

‘The school has allowed me to write my own story’

Sonja says: My mum always stood by the phrase ‘Elimu haina mwisho’ or ‘education never ends’. She loved taking the small things in life and giving them meaning and was an inspiration for our family, bringing my sister and me up with a love for learning. Moving from Kenya was unsettling, but Stowe grabbed me by the hand and pulled me along its special journey.

I took all the opportunities that came my way: I played basketball and lacrosse and started to experience happiness in things that I found I loved. Stowe strengthened and challenged me, which kept me learning and working hard.

Acting and singing were my passions and I was never short of opportunities to explore these crafts. My singing teacher supported me to Grade 8 Distinction and my drama teachers helped me find my voice as Juliet. I threw myself into many aspects of Stowe life and became Head Girl. This would have been impossible without the support I got from a Stowe bursary and my lovely Grandma.

The support from Stowe has been heart-warming for my family and me, especially in the lower sixth when my Grandma was diagnosed with cancer. My time at Stowe has been shaped by my friends, teachers and community who fuelled, and continue to fuel, my aspirations. Stowe allowed me to write my own story and find out who I want to be.

Daevasyaa Murraletharan, University College School, Hampstead

Class Acts: UCS Hampstead
University College School, Hampstead
Class Acts bursary success stories: Daevasyaa

‘The school arranged multiple social events and taster days’

Daevasyaa says: I was initially worried about moving to UCS for sixth form because I didn’t know anyone there. However, the school arranged multiple social events and taster days which meant it was easy to make new friends, find out about new subjects, and get a feel for the school.

I was given great advice regarding what to study, which universities to apply for, and careers. The process was very smooth, pressure-free, I was accepted on to all the courses I applied for and I am now at my first choice university studying philosophy.

I very much appreciated how much time my Form Tutor and Deme Warden (Head of House) devoted time to discussing school life and allowing us all to reflect and assess our own performance. I strongly believe this time led to real self-improvement on an academic and personal level and I am so happy I chose to go to UCS.


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