2 years ago

Inside Scoop 2019

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A current parent perspective on the UK's top schools

Boys at Ludgrove

Boys at Ludgrove enjoying boarding life

INSIDE SCOOP Roots and wings Ian Davenport, head of Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation, tells Susannah Warren about the charity’s commitment to transforming lives of disadvantaged children within our boarding schools are two gifts we can give our children, the first is roots, the second is wings.” quotes Ian Davenport, “There head of the UK’s largest boarding school bursary charity, Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation. It is these lifetransforming gifts that the foundation is committed to offering disadvantaged and vulnerable children through its fully-funded boarding school places. The aim: to reduce educational inequality and increase social mobility around the country. “Our schools give them wings; we give them wings.” The charity is supporting 500 children in around 100 state and independent boarding schools, but plans to double its reach by 2023. Ambitious, perhaps, but things have come a long way since 2012 when Davenport started The SpringBoard Bursary Foundation, placing 17 children in nine schools. Its merger in 2017 with long-standing grant-maker Royal National Children’s Foundation ushered in what Davenport describes as a “big-picture charity”. Originally, Royal SpringBoard was inspired by Rugby School’s hugely successful bursary programme, which then headmaster Patrick Derham, helped set up in 2003. Now head of Westminster, Derham first met Davenport in 1992, when the latter joined him at Radley College as Head of Economics and a Housemaster, a role he kept for 12 years. Previously, he had packed in his job as a derivatives trader with Morgan Stanley to move into TARGET 1,000 PUPILS A YEAR BY 2023 teaching. “I always wanted to teach,” says Davenport. “I thought if I go off and earn lots of money and not massively enjoy it, that might be better than not earning any money and really enjoying it, but that was the wrong decision. Come the age of 30 I thought if I don’t make the leap now, I never will.” Like Derham, he moved on from Radley to become a headmaster, doing an eight-year stint at Blundell’s in Devon from 2004. Both bursary children themselves - Davenport at Bloxham School, Derham at Pangbourne College – the pair always believed passionately in the holistic boarding experience to transform the lives of those less fortunate. Derham was looking for someone to roll out the Rugby programme nationally and Davenport seemed the ideal candidate. “Given I follow Alice in Wonderland exclusively, which is, if you don’t explore, you’ll never discover, I gave it a go and here we are,” explains Davenport. There are many bursary charities in the UK, but none quite like Royal SpringBoard with its partner-based model. “Patrick wanted to build a model that answered the question that the vast majority of independent school headmasters had been trying to answer, and that is: how do you find genuinely deserving children for your bursary programme and look after them in the best possible way? He came to the conclusion that the best way was to work through community groups who were already involved in local areas where these children came from and build relationships with them.” 2019 ★ 35