Pupil's Success Story

Scholarships To Leeds Grammar School Transform the Lives of Two Boys From a Single Parent Family

Daley

Daley as a boy

Daley as a boy

Daley as a man

Daley as a man

Back in 1993 my Brother Craig became the first pupil from my Primary School, to have left and gone to a non-state High School. He went onward to the then named Leeds Grammar School, a selective, predominantly fee-paying Independent School – As a mark of his intelligence at the time, he missed out Year 6 at Primary School, and went straight from Year 5 to Year 7.

 

We, the Hebberd family were living in the Burley area of Leeds, West Yorkshire at this time. We lived on a street made up of mainly 1950’s built semi-detached houses at one end, and maisonette tower-block flats at the other. And in my earlier years of schooling in the late-1980’s and early 1990’s, we had cause through financial circumstance / being a single-parent family to live in both types of this housing. As children both Craig and I never really felt like we really wanted for anything, but we appreciate in-hindsight the great sacrifices our Mum made for us to give us a good Education. We also realise the value of a Pound, from having had Newspaper-rounds, Magazine selling jobs, times where I would even collect cans to take to the recycling bins for extra cash, etc, from around the age of 11. My Mum was working Full-Time to help pay for the household, and it was at this time because Craig was so far ahead in reading schemes and in his general learning, that she made the decision to seek Private Tutoring for him to help extend his learning.

 

Given the back-story here of financial pressure on a single-parent family, it is perhaps surprising that such as person would decide to pay for extra tuition for their child. This cost consideration for my Mum was all-too-clear also, but she also realised her son wasn’t going to achieve his potential in the learning environment he was currently in, unless she looked for other paths to nurture that identified talent. As such Mum decided (with the heavy burden of almost stigma, that this may have on her), that she would also take on Cleaning jobs to help pay for this. Perhaps then it was fate that it was on an occasion of cleaning for a customer, that Mum came across on a Coffee Table the Prospectus for a school she had never heard of called ‘Leeds Grammar School’; she had only heard of local catchment areas schools until this time, that had directed to her our Primary School.

 

Due to information about Leeds Grammar and Independent Schools in general not being readily available through our Primary School at the time, the subsequent information gathering process was and did become my Mum testifies, a minefield of calls and letters to-and-fro. Particularly because after my brother had successfully gained entrance to Leeds Grammar in 1993, I decided in 1995 to apply there, but also to Woodhouse Grove in Bradford and Ampleforth College in York (both also other Independent Schools). So the process was naturally magnified by administration, but also in some negative way because there were hurdles to jump that weren’t entirely clear in a Prospectus or School Website in-order to be eligible for a Scholarship. For example at Ampleforth (back then at least), the school would send somebody to interview you and your family at your home to see how you lived and see in essence whether you were suitable for their environment.

 

Both myself and my brother were very lucky (although in no way politically-minded at the time to care), that back in 1993 and just hanging-on in 1995, the John Major Conservative Government were minded to grant around 20, 80-90% government-funded scholarships per year at Leeds Grammar School. This meant that opportunities were available for parents such as my Mum to allow children such as myself and Craig, to step out of what might be deemed their ‘station in life’, to pursue natural abilities both academically and sporting, allowing them to try and flourish into whatever they can be at their optimum.

 

I sometimes say to my partner now, “I am very grateful for the opportunities that going to Leeds Grammar School gave me, but I am not sure whether I would send my own children to an Independent School”. The reason I have this thought (as someone who isn’t hugely politically motivated, as I am not), is that sadly since my school days and the days of funded scholarships being written-off by the then Blair-government, and others then onward, is that I am uncertain that the background of my young pup who is not yet born, would be represented in the environment they would learn in. By this I mean socio-economic backgrounds, accent associated with less / more affluent areas of Leeds / Yorkshire, etc. These are perhaps unthought of factors when simply taking an Entrance Exam on face-value of intellect vs intellect, but very very important in your formative years when trying to make relationships with people using just the background of your life and the people you have interacted with until that point as your guide.

 

I believe if the Independent-sector is to develop in the public consciousness as a non-elitist and accessible Education system, then there must be Scholarships & Bursaries made available to all communities, all backgrounds, those with physical disabilities & varied learning disabilities; simply offering more inclusiveness to society as a whole.

 

As someone who was fortunate to be granted a scholarship into an Independent School, I am glad I have both the story to tell but also the fond memories to look back on of those days – I have worked in Education Recruitment for the past 12 years, and I help run an Agency nowadays (helping supply in the last year, none other than the now named ‘Grammar School at Leeds’ with staff). My brother Craig is a Northern Sales Manager for an Industrial Roofing Company, and is studying for a Masters Degree currently to re-train to become a Chartered Surveyor. And my Mum is now happily re-married, and enjoys numerous holidays per year.