Driving the widening of access to Independent schools

In line with the school’s charitable aims, Forest has been at the forefront of widening access to the independent sector with the introduction of a Founders’ Day Bursary scheme in 2019.  Founders’ Day Bursary places are 100% plus bursaries, covering not only the fees but also other ‘extras’ like uniform, devices and trips and are specifically for vulnerable children who are either in care or who have experience of the care system.

Forest is well-placed to offer a child in these circumstances high-quality pastoral care with in-house counselling, if required, meaning Founders’ Day Bursary pupils receive as much emotional support as they need to thrive at Forest.

Founders’ Day Bursary candidates are identified by their primary schools, the local virtual headteachers and/or social services as pupils who would enjoy the academic pace of Forest, but for whom the opportunity would not present itself through other means.

Forest’s recruitment process for these places is sensitive to the needs of the pupils placed at the school and we were delighted when the first Founders’ Day Bursary pupil joined the school last September.  Now Forest has taken on an advisory role as part of an initiative to increase access to independent day schools across the country, led by the charity the Royal National Children’s Springboard Foundation (RNCSF).

RNCSF have been awarded funding from the DfE as part of the department’s ‘Broadening Education Pathways’ scheme to promote the access to independent day school places for looked after and vulnerable children and young carers.  Historically, RSNF’s focus has been on boarding school places so this is the first time that the charity has been formally commissioned by the DfE to promote day school places, with the goal of supporting the placement of the first 50 pupils in September 2022.

Forest School’s Director of Outreach Adela Kay who developed our Founders’ Day Bursary process, spoke at an event today hosted by HMC.  Mrs Kay presented alongside Richard Backhouse, Principal of Berkhamstead, RNCSF Trustee Jane Lunnon and RNCSF CEO Ali Henderson, sharing the Forest model as a template for other independent schools to adopt to support RNSCF’s national drive to broaden access to our schools.

The genuine diversity of the Forest community is an acknowledged strength of the School and Forest wishes to support more pupils who would not otherwise be able to attend Forest, to allow them to enjoy all the opportunities for learning and personal development that the School provides.