Disrupting the Pattern 2023
Equality Diversity and Inclusion
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Trinity School
Transforming Education through Bursaries: Empowering Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion
I have a longstanding connection with Trinity School and Croydon. I was a student here from 1979 to 1986 and lived in the borough during that period. I had friends from various parts of Croydon, from all different backgrounds, and I still maintain contact with most of them nearly forty years later.
At the time, I never really considered what we now refer to as Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). While Trinity was far from perfect, it was still a relatively “normal” school that mirrored the borough more than most independent schools.
This was primarily due to a combination of free places and relatively low fees. The school was a direct grant grammar school from 1945 until 1968 when it left the scheme, but it continued to admit pupils funded by the Local Education Authority until the late 1970s. From then on, it provided a very generous bursary programme through the John Whitgift Foundation.
Fast forward to today and we are faced with a choice. Fees have increased and, in real terms, bursary spending decreases every year. Therefore, we need to determine how important it is for our school body to reflect the community it is a part of.
First, we need to consider what we aim to accomplish with our EDI programme:
- Overcoming financial barriers to education.
- Promoting diversity in the student body.
- Encouraging social mobility.
- Supporting meritocracy.
Next, we must articulate why these goals are important to us:
- The cost of tuition fees and associated expenses is one of the major obstacles to accessing education. This particularly affects families with lower incomes or multiple dependents.
- We desire a more diverse student population that brings together individuals from different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds. Such diversity can enhance the school community by fostering a culture of inclusivity and openness. Additionally, exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences can prepare students for success in an interconnected world.
- By providing access to our high-quality education, Trinity can help students from less advantaged backgrounds realise their full potential and improve their chances of upward social mobility. This approach benefits not only the individual students, but also their families and the broader community.
- Schools can level the playing field by offering financial support to talented students from lower-income families, ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
The final question is, "How important are these things to us?" We must answer this question thoughtfully and honestly because, like all challenging real-world problems, solving it requires considerable effort and dedication.
To address it, we must embed the EDI concept in our culture and fully comprehend its implications.
How achievable are our EDI targets?
However, questions remain. Can we genuinely become effective "Agents of Change"? How achievable is our vision?
Over the years, the fee landscape has changed radically. From 1945 to 1968, Trinity operated as a direct grant grammar school. Until the late 1970s, the school admitted a significant number of students funded by the Local Education Authority, accounting for over half of the school roll. But fees escalated steeply from the 1980s onwards.
Today, local authority funding is no longer the primary tool for inclusion; bursaries have taken its place. But fundraising efforts have struggled to keep pace with rising fees. Despite increasing our fundraising each year, we are falling behind in real terms. We need to acknowledge and address this issue with our alumni, parents, and staff to rectify the situation.
The success of Trinity's partnerships with local state primary schools - providing younger children with access to music, sports, co-curricular activities, and additional academic opportunities through our Saturday school - has made Trinity more accessible to families who may not previously have considered it an option. This is a genuine success story for Trinity, placing us at the heart of our community. It has raised the aspirations of numerous primary school students - boys and girls - and their families, many of whom have gone on to attend grammar schools or secure bursaries at local independent schools.
But this success has given rise to an unexpected challenge: the demand for bursaries now exceeds the available resources. While our current bursary enrolment stands at 17%, which is higher than many other independent schools, we still need to do more.
Support for our bursary fundraising becomes critical if we are to achieve our EDI goals. Our supporters truly are key Agents of Change. Only through their contributions can we:
- Provide access to those with talent, but limited financial resources
- Cultivate a culture of philanthropy among our wider Trinity community, including alumni, parents, and staff
- Extend the transformative impact beyond the bursary recipients and into their wider communities
- Establish a lasting legacy for future generations of talented children in Croydon who lack opportunities.
The impact of all our supporters is empowering, not only for the recipients and their families, but also for the donors themselves.
How to Measure Real EDI Success
But what about the impact of accessibility, a term long associated with our school - how can we set realistic goals and measure progress towards achieving them? If we are to succeed as Agents of Change, we must examine this fully.
But let's clear up the distinction between scholarships and bursaries. Scholarships are awarded to students with particular talents as a means to compete with other schools. They aim to attract the "champions" among students. Bursaries are solely means-tested and serve as the true key performance indicator (KPI) of how inclusive a school is.
When setting objectives, it is crucial to ensure they are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. But ensuring (edit note: too much achieving) the "achievable" and "relevant" aspects of SMART can be particularly challenging when it comes to bursary fundraising and increased accessibility.
Often, we oversimplify EDI by relying on general measures, such as the percentage of minority groups in the student body. This one-dimensional approach fails to consider the financial and educational advantages that different families may already possess. While it may be a relevant measure for diversity, it does not necessarily address equality.
We all care passionately about keeping Trinity accessible, so we want to increase our bursary provision above its current 17% of school roll. But we have to be clear about what is realistically achievable. Aspiring to reach the 50% of free places seen in the 1970s is admirable, but can it be accomplished? Should we aim for 25% or 20%? And within what time-frame?
To measure success, we must define our SMART objectives and carefully select the KPIs by which we will assess progress. Perhaps we should start with small steps:
Objective 1: By the end of the academic year, maintain a need-based bursary programme that offers financial assistance to at least 170 eligible students from low-income families. This programme should alleviate the financial burden of tuition fees and other educational expenses by at least 70%. The aim is to level the playing field, reduce financial barriers and ensure equal opportunities for academic success. To evaluate the programme's effectiveness, we can assess the academic performance of bursary recipients compared to their peers, and provide any mentoring or other support that they may need to enhance their academic and personal development.
Objective 2: Over the next five years, increase the enrolment of students from underrepresented social, economic, and cultural backgrounds by 5%. To create a more diverse student population in this way, will involve targeted outreach efforts, means-tested bursaries, and community partnerships to attract and support students from diverse backgrounds. We will also need to establish comprehensive diversity and inclusion initiatives within the school curriculum and extracurricular activities to foster a culture of openness, understanding, and mutual respect among students and staff.
There's no point running a PR campaign with vague aspirations. We need to be specific and ensure that our goals are supported by the whole community. To paraphrase JFK, "We don't choose to be Agents of Change because it is easy."
So, let's embrace the challenge ahead and work together to ensure meaningful change at Trinity School.
Trinity hosts Bursary Fund reception at the Old Bailey
In September 2022, our Trinity Bursary Fund supporters gathered at the Old Bailey for an unforgettable reception. With guests from our community of alumni, parents, staff and friends, the annual reception was the school’s chance to thank them for their ongoing support. The fund allows Trinity to offer places to students from Croydon who have the talent and ability, but not the financial means, to attend our school.
The invitation to this remarkable venue was extended by Adam Rout, one of our Trinity parents, who gave an engaging talk on the rich history of the building. His encyclopaedic knowledge of the notorious criminals who have felt the long arm of the law in its courts - including figures such as Oscar Wilde, Dr Crippen, William Joyce (“Lord Haw-Haw”), John Christie, the Krays, and Peter Sutcliffe (“the Yorkshire Ripper”) - captivated the audience.
The evening also provided an opportunity for Jason Court, the new Director of Development, to introduce himself and the Alumni and Development team. He discussed his plans to grow the Trinity Bursary Fund and the increasing number of students it supports. Above all, it was his chance to thank our supporters personally for the real change they effect as donors.
Our keynote speaker was Dr Laurence Pallant, a former bursary recipient at Trinity (2005-2012) and ardent supporter of the Trinity Bursary Fund. Despite having just finished a night shift in the West Country, Dr Pallant, a specialist in paediatric medicine, made the journey to central London to deliver a passionate speech in which he emphasised the ongoing need for bursaries. A former Trinity Head Boy, he went on to study Medicine at Imperial College London.
Throughout the evening, Trinity Bursary Fund Ambassadors, drawn from recent bursary recipients and callers from the 2021 Telephone Fundraising Campaign, mixed with the guests. They shared their personal stories of what a bursary has meant to them. It was their chance to thank our supporters and show the real-life impact of their generosity.
As Dr Pallant reminded guests, the cost of tuition fees and associated expenses is one of the major obstacles to accessing a first-class education. This particularly affects families on lower incomes or with multiple dependants. Means-tested bursaries allow Trinity to maintain a more diverse student population that brings together individuals from different social, economic, and cultural backgrounds. This diversity enhances our community by fostering a culture of inclusivity and openness. The exposure to varying perspectives and experiences also prepares all our students for success in an interconnected world.
By providing access to our high-quality education, Trinity can help students from less advantaged backgrounds to realise their full potential and improve their chances of upward social mobility. This benefits not only the individual students, but also their families and the broader community.
We can all be Agents of Change and level the playing field by offering financial support to talented students from lower-income families, ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.
As with all Trinity events, the conversation flowed and old acquaintances were renewed as refreshments and canapés were served. Many thanks to our photographer, Dan Fearon, who was there to capture a wonderful occasion.
A heartfelt thank you to all the wonderful supporters of the Trinity Bursary Fund. Without your generosity and commitment we cannot make a brighter future for talented students in Croydon. You can join us by visiting www.trinitygives.org.uk or by reaching out to Jason Court, the Director of Development.
We eagerly anticipate welcoming all donors to our next supporters’ Reception on the 20th September 2023, which will be held at another extraordinary venue, Stationers’ Hall in London. Together, let us continue to make a difference in the lives of aspiring scholars.