The Importance Of Philanthropy

Issue 99

By Geoffrey Stanford, Headmaster of Newcastle Royal Grammar School.

We recently held a Philanthropy evening at the RGS, inviting members from all corners of our school community to celebrate the diversity of the RGS in a bid to drum up continued support for RGS Bursaries and RGS Partnerships. Attendees included existing donors and corporate partners as well as a range of alumni, current and former parents, hosted by RGS students.

The premise of the whole event was a shared ambition for social mobility in the North East and at the heart of this, is our newly launched ‘RGS Gives’ campaign.

Recognising that the ability of 1 in 16 students to attend the RGS is made possible through the support of many donors, our guest speaker for the event was one of our Sixth Formers, who shared his own RGS experience. He started his speech declaring: “Good evening, my name is Charlie and I’m going to build rockets!”. As an exceptional, Y13 means-tested bursary student with university offers to read aerospace engineering, Charlie relished the opportunity to express his sincere thanks for the generosity of donors, who have shaped his life into a trajectory once unimaginable.

For me, the most important thing about the RGS is the people who make the place what it is and very much at the heart of this wonderful community are the bursary students, who each add so much to the collective experience of all pupils. In the coming admissions round, we anticipate increasing bursary numbers from 84 this year to 90 in September as a result of the continuing generosity of donors. However, as in every year, we have far more deserving candidates apply than we can possibly find the funds to support. This is particularly important to me because I understand the benefit of bursary support being transformational across generations.

My education and life chances were made possible as a result of my father receiving such support; so, my thanks to our donors came not merely from the perspective of a Headmaster glad to be able to offer opportunities to talented young people but also as an indirect beneficiary of the same philanthropic generosity.

Since the establishment of the RGS Bursary Campaign in 2002 hundreds of deserving young people have been awarded these highly sought after funded places. As we approach our 500th year in 2025, Nigel McMinn, Governor and Chair of the RGS Bursary Campaign, reminded everyone during his speech: “Thomas Horsley, five-time mayor of Newcastle, founded RGS as the City’s first?school to provide a free education for the brightest students in Newcastle – those with the most potential, just like Charlie.” That early philanthropic vision of ‘doing good’ in the City has been a constant throughout and the social purpose of the school still today is absolutely front and centre in our vision of raising aspirations and attainment across the region.

We have also initiated RGS Partnerships projects to address academic disparities more widely across the region as the state schools we support are doing great work in the face of extreme, systemic issues. Funding received from The Reece Foundation, British Engines and TSG enable the school to employ specialist Partnership teachers in areas like robotics, mathematics, physics, and computer science. In the past year over 100 schools, 10,000 students, and 750 teachers have benefited, demonstrating direct positive outcomes of our RGS Partnerships work.?

Our Philanthropy evening encouraged everyone to reflect on how their own personal contribution plays a part in how we collectively improve the North East’s education landscape. It is the cumulative impact of so many acts of generosity, however big or small, which leave an indelible fingerprint on the life of so many individual children. I am truly grateful to each and every one of our donors.

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