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Stowe School’s life-changing Change 100 project is a go

Know a truly talented child who could be a future change maker? The illustrious Stowe School in Bucks is embarking on a hugely ambitious, altruistic project to help fund 100 student places a year for those who desperately need it.

Stowe School

This year has been… tumultuous, to say the least. From the stresses of homeschooling to international political upheaval, it’s fair to say that education and giving our young people the best opportunities possible has become a real focus in 2020. 

It feels like perfect timing, then, for the launch of Stowe School’s brand new Change 100 project, which aims to fund a whopping 100 places a year for those families otherwise unable to afford the fees at one of the UK’s most well known and stunningly situated independent schools (ask Richard Branson, Henry Cavill and Jack Brooksbank, who all went there). 

We’ve grabbed Stowe’s Director of Strategic Development & Fundraising, Colin Dudgeon, to understand the details of this ambitious project so that you can get involved yourself, or maybe just spread the word to friends or family who could benefit. OK Colin, let’s do this!

In a nutshell, what is Change 100 all about? 

It’s the biggest fundraising endeavour we’ve ever embarked upon in the 100-year history of Stowe – a mission to give talented, deserving children from much less advantaged backgrounds who would never otherwise get the chance to fulfil their potential, the life-changing opportunity of an education at Stowe.

The project was actually conceived well before 2020, This is the sort of school that wants to – and should be – providing these sort of life-changing opportunities. This year has been incredibly tough and there are even more children who need support more than ever before, so the context of this year has served to underline the importance of Change 100.

Over the last 15 years or so we’ve raised a lot of money that has allowed us to transform the infrastructure of the school, and now we’re nearing the end of that journey we can turn our attention to the next vital ambition which is providing financial support and seeing through of vision for Stowe to create the change makers of the future – young adults who have the skills and attributes to go out and make positive change in the world.

Change 100

Change 100 – catchy name, but what does it mean? 

The first part of it is that Stowe turns 100 in 2023. And the second part of it is that our objective is to raise £100 million, which is a spine-tingling sum of money really! But we always say if you’re going to set an objective, then it may as well be a transformative one. 

That £100 million will fully fund 100 places at Stowe every year in perpetuity, so for the rest of time. 

A lofty goal! How soon do you think you can get it done? 

We’re giving ourselves 10 years to raise that sum of money. What has been so encouraging is the response we’ve had so far – everyone who’s seen the videos has been very positive. They support not just the principal of Change 100 but also the scale of our ambition. 

I saw your introduction video featuring Old Stoic Liberty King – inspiring stuff! 

Liberty is the epitome of a change maker – she came to us in the sixth form and was here for two years. She came from a very different background to many of the children at the Stowe, and it changed her life. She went from Stowe on to Oxford and then to Harvard and now she’s working in educational policy to create for others the sort of opportunity she was given here. 

How will you go about finding these potential change makers? 

Alongside all the work we’re doing to raise awareness of the project in our own community, we’re also reaching out, both nationally and internationally. We’re looking to build partnerships with local charities, national charities, councils, and organisations overseas to find those children. We can’t just wait for serendipity and people to find us, we’ll be actively looking for the best children to fill those slots. 

Will the places be means-tested?

Crucial to the provision of any bursary award is a careful process of means testing. We’ll be looking to understand the finances of each individual family involved to be able to make an award of up to 100% of the value of school fees, so we can award that to children who really need it. 

Does this replace your regular bursaries? 

Not at all – we’ll be continuing to award our usual bursaries of between 40% and 60%, but the Change 100 program in particular is aimed at children from much less advantaged backgrounds for whom this would be a truly transformational experience. 

Are there limitations on year of entry? 

Absolutely not. There are two prep schools that will be joining us to form the Stowe Group in 2021 – Swanbourne House School and Winchester House School – which means that as well as entry at Year 9 and Year 12, we’re also able to offer opportunities through the Change100 program to children who are of prep school age. 

Stowe Pupils

So if it takes 10 years to raise the money, will we not see places open up until 2030?

This is where our Immediate Impact program comes in. The long-term goal is obviously the endowment fund, which will provide these funded places in perpetuity, but we also want to really get going on providing short-term opportunities as well. The first million we raise will go towards places in the coming academic year, so we could see the first recipients in September 2021, in just 10 months’ time. And that will continue, so the first million will always go towards places in the following academic year. 

You mention transforming the school – what else is coming up for Stowe? 

Plenty! We’re just about to build a new DT and engineering centre, we’re looking to upgrade our indoor sport facilities, we’re upgrading the quality of our boarding accommodation, and we are expanding our day provision (our two Day Houses will grow from 150 to 200 pupils). The Sixth Form are also getting a new Sixth Form Centre which will be ready for September 2021. It’s a really exciting time, and coinciding with our centenary celebrations makes it the best time for it. 

How can Muddy readers get in touch if they feel they know a potential beneficiary? 

Just contact our admissions team and they’ll give you all the info you need. Email admissions@stowe.co.uk

Find out more about Change 100 at stowe.co.ukStowe School, Stowe, Buckingham MK18 5EH.

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