A PRIVATE school has launched new bursaries so promising young students can indulge their passions.

St Helen and St Katharine in Abingdon has unveiled four new subject-specific bursaries for its sixth form, covering all costs including bus transport and enrichment activities.

Open to state school students who would otherwise be unable to afford fees, the grants cover computer science, chemistry, economics, mathematics and/or physics respectively.

Each is named after an alumna of the girls' school, including Gabrielle Kingaby, who visited the school last week to launch her computer science bursary.

The 94-year-old, who was one of the Bletchley Park codebreakers during World War Two, said: "I'm thrilled and honoured to be chosen - I couldn't believe it.

"We have too much of a class system in Britain, and the older you get, the more you realise that is true. It's a good thing to open [the school] up."

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The day school has a long tradition of offering bursaries, and has encouraged girls to consider applying and pop in for a look around.

Students will study their chosen subject at A-Level, from September 2020, and would have to commit to the full two years of study.

Current student Juliet Banks, now 17, spoke of how she had enjoyed her education since joining the school in Year 6.

She added: "It's not clique and it's really supportive, everybody wants to help and all the girls are lovely."

Oxford Mail:

Fellow student Caitlin Wright, also 17, added: "The school has nurtured me - I was so shy [when I joined] and didn't know how to stand on my own two feet.

"I came from a state school as well and didn't know anyone applying, and thought it was going to be so scary, but everyone was so friendly. "

Leying Lee is now a drama teacher at St Helen's, having studied at the school via a full bursary, which she described as a 'life-changing gift.'

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She said: "Studying here and teaching here has made me realise that any kind of stereotype or preconception people have about private school life isn't true.

"You are immersed in this lovely supportive community, and everyone wants you to excel - it's cool to be 'geeky' here and like learning, and ask questions.

"No one cares how much money you have or what your house is like, and no one knows either - the teachers don't even know [if you are on a bursary].

"Everyone is treated with the same support and attention."

Writing in the school's bursary brochure, headmistress Rebecca Dougall said: "I am keenly aware that there are young women whose lives would be transformed by calling St Helen and St Katharine their school, and could do so if fees were no longer a factor.

"The belief that we can and should remove this financial barrier remains fundamental to the school’s ethos.

"Our fierce pride in all that we do at St Helen’s and the transformative value and efficacy of our mission make us ambitious to reach out further, to individuals whose potential and aspirations are currently inhibited by circumstances beyond their control."

Anyone interested in learning more about the bursaries can find out more here.

Deadline for applicants is October 18.