The Arnold Foundation for Rugby School

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The Arnold Foundation was established in 2003 to deliver a programme of boarding bursaries to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds as well as to enrich the life and culture of Rugby School. Means tested opportunities are offered to talented students with a need for boarding, alongside the funded day places that have always been available for students who live within 10 miles of the School. 

The Foundation currently has 35 students across all five year groups at Rugby and 115 young people who have benefited to date.

At the heart of the Arnold Foundation’s innovation and success lie strong relationships with partners working with disadvantaged children, a system of coherent and cohesive pastoral care involving staff, partners and parents, the active commitment of the whole Rugby School community of governors, staff, students and parents and fundraising by Rugby School exclusively for bursaries, with over £20 million raised in 14 years.

It is the pastoral engagement that has contributed significantly to the success of so many students. Sitting alongside Rugby School’s regular tutors, the Arnold Foundation tutor team provide additional guidance, support and encouragement. Each student is assigned an Arnold Foundation tutor for their whole school career at Rugby and we gather this group of students informally on a weekly basis to share news, provide encouragement and celebrate successes. And we reach out to families, through the Parent Liaison team where parents, of current and former students, provide advice and guidance all year round on the phone, email and in person for Arnold Foundation parents who are new to independent schools and boarding.

The recruitment process is rigorous but offers students and families a chance to engage with the School before testing and interviews. We are clear that candidates must have the potential to excel academically. We will also consider those with the potential to flourish in sport, music, art, drama or similar provided they are strong enough to be able to thrive academically.

Awards are offered at 100 per cent bursaries in most cases (and not less than 90 per cent) and can include all essential extras (uniform, laptop and essential trips) subject to means-testing. Arnold Foundation students will be expected to embrace the two-way nature of their award and make a positive contribution to the Rugby School community. Arnold Foundation students benefit from a high standard of academic education at Rugby and they also participate in the vast range of sport, music, drama, visiting lectures and trips. In turn, the school community benefits from the diverse experience, background, energy and commitment they bring to Rugby. The Arnold Foundation, and the students it supports, are very much an integral part of Rugby’s culture and ethos.

There is a robust approach to recruitment for those students who have a need for boarding and stand to gain the most from the opportunity a boarding education at Rugby offers. We identify candidates largely through our work with partner organisations which themselves are working with children in some of the UK’s most disadvantaged communities. It is these partner organisations that also provide support to the students during the recruitment process and afterwards, with guidance, mentoring and a quiet space to study during the school holidays.

Our partner organisations in the UK include IntoUniversity with which we have been working since 2004 and now has centres in many cities across England, Eastside Young Leaders’ Academy in Forest Gate, Hawick High School in Scotland, George Greens School in the Isle of Dogs and Clarion Voice in Leicester. We also work with a number of Prep Schools which offer boarding bursaries and seek places for students leaving at year 8. Rugby School is also a beacon and member school of the SpringBoard Boarding Bursary Foundation.

In 2012, an extensive evaluation of the scaleability of The Arnold Foundation’s model to a national level was conducted at no cost by McKinsey & Company. The findings showed there was scope and demand for boarding schools to lead the national roll out of the work of The Arnold Foundation and the national SpringBoard Bursary Foundation was launched. A large number of schools have sought to emulate the way we offer transformational opportunities for our students and it is testimony to our success that the SpringBoard Boarding Bursary Foundation, which offers boarding opportunities across independent and state boarding schools, was established on, and inspired by, the Arnold Foundation model.  

34 Arnold Foundation Ambassadors (former students) have now graduated from university and embarked upon their careers, among them a TV journalist, two actors, a doctor, two accountants and a vet. 16 graduates are from Russell Group universities with 4 from Oxford or Cambridge. Six have postgraduate qualifications and four are currently studying for masters qualifications. Arnold Foundation Ambassadors are keen to give back and remain passionate about both the Arnold Foundation and Rugby School.

Dr Michael Mather (2006-08) is currently a junior doctor in Newcastle

“Before Rugby I did not have the confidence to even apply for medicine as I felt I was "not the kind of person" who applies to train as a doctor. Rugby taught me that actually nothing is out of bounds if one has the ability to do it well.

I now apply this attitude to everything I do in life, which has resulted in carrying out research at Oxford University, presenting my work at national medical conferences and being accepted on an exchange programme to research epilepsy at the USA's top hospital. I cannot express how life changing my time at Rugby was.

Of course, the School helped me achieve good A-level results, but I believe the true value of Rugby is not just the high grades, but more intrinsically in the values it instils, which lead to a snowballing effect of ambition and achievement which continues for years after leaving the School. The Arnold Foundation does not just fund a few years at an exceptional boarding school, it profoundly changes the mind-set of ambitious young people to give them the opportunity to transform their lives for the better.”

For more information contact: 

Kerry Wilson, Director of Development, Rugby School, Development Office, 6 Horton Crescent, Rugby CV22 5DJ  email, phone 01788 556139 website