The Bursaries and Assistance Fund

Recent studies have shown that the global pandemic and its consequences have widened the social mobility gap – and in the case of school age children, those from disadvantaged backgrounds are now further behind than ever before.

It is therefore more important than ever to ensure that talented young people are not prevented from achieving their full potential due to a lack of financial resources. We know that our bursaries offer accessibility, ensure that our classrooms reflect the diversity of the world beyond the school gates and are critical to the future success of all our pupils, and our community more widely.

In the 2023-24 academic year, 13% of Norwich High Senior School and Sixth Form students benefited from some form of bursarial support. There are several students on 95% bursaries which we offer to ensure that the award makes a significant difference to the recipient’s educational opportunities.

Our Bursaries and Assistance Fund

Each year we receive over 50 applications for a bursary place and due to a lack of funds we are only able to offer places to around 15% of these applicants.

But we want to do so much more. Legacies and donations to our Bursaries and Assistance Fund from charitable partnerships, alumnae, along with former staff, parents and friends, enable us to offer more opportunities to bright and deserving students.

Case Studies

1 Paris Thompson
Norwich High Sixth Form student

I am feeling excited, overwhelmed, but above all very happy to be awarded this bursary award and with it, I can join the Sixth Form at Norwich High School. I am very grateful to the Garfield Weston Foundation for their support – it is really important to me and I value the opportunity very much. My long-term goal is to be an actress and to be involved in literature using my unique writing voice and I believe Norwich High can help me achieve my goal – as well as being awarded a bursary, I have also been given a drama scholarship at the school as a result of my achievements so far in this field.

As I look towards starting in September, lots of questions are whizzing round my head – what am I going to wear? How often am I able to go to the library? Who are going to be my new friends? But I know all these will be answered soon and that I will get the information I need as September moves closer.

I knew Norwich High was the place for me – initially, it was recommended by me LAMDA teacher as it has an excellent drama department and also a former GDST pupil who is the mum of a profoundly deaf child like me. Once I got to know the school myself more, I could see how the girls there are encouraged to be empowered and the school values and supports every individual student and respects this individuality.

As I am deaf, the smaller class sizes are perfect since I find lots of background noise challenging when listening. Also, as the school is just a short walk from my house, I can be more independent in terms of travelling to and from school, plus I will have more energy to do things with my classmates outside the classroom.

I am really looking forward to learning new things and being able to study and immerse myself in a subject that I love, alongside like-minded people. It will be wonderful to be able to talk to teachers who are experts at each subject.

By providing bursary awards, the school community at Norwich High is diverse and provides equal opportunities to everyone within it – encouraging a real sense of inclusion. Bursaries allow people to have the same access as others, regardless of where they are from or their background.

I am already preparing for joining the school in the Autumn – I have now attended a transition day and a two-day induction. I’ve had the chance to meet the girls I will be studying with and lots of my new teachers. It is all quite a lot to take in, but really exciting and interesting!

2 Catherine Thorn (née Hooley)
Norwich High School Alumna

I attended Norwich High School from 1975 to 1982 thanks to financial assistance provided by the Direct Grant scheme. My upbringing wasn’t the easiest – my younger brother had severe cerebral palsy from birth. From an early age, I helped my mother and father with his care. My father was a teacher; although in my earlier childhood my mother was primarily a full-time carer for my brother, she did enter the teaching profession too, commencing her training as I started at Norwich High. While we were materially comfortable, particularly once my mother started working, we didn’t have the sort of things that many took for granted. We could never have afforded the fees for a school like NHS. Whilst my parents worked very hard to ensure that home life was as normal as possible for me, it was really quite unusual, and Norwich High provided me with stability and the right environment to grow and flourish as an individual.

I joined Norwich High from a co-ed state primary. I do particularly remember everything feeling very strange at first, and it taking some time to adjust. One example that I remember vividly is that I was expected to write in fountain pen, and I’d only ever used pencil. After this initial adjustment period, I never once felt like I didn’t fit in. There was no distinction between fee paying students and the many students that attended the school thanks to a Direct Grant. I have stayed in touch with many of my classmates who became firm friends for life. I enjoyed my lessons and the feeling of my capacities expanding and look back with fondness and gratitude for my time at Norwich High School.

One of the best things about attending the school was that I was able to study Ancient Greek. By the time I was 11 years old, I was fascinated by Greek mythology, and I eventually went on study Greek at A level, along with Latin and English. I believe that without this opportunity to study Greek and Latin, I wouldn’t have gone on to study at King’s College, Cambridge, where I read Classics.

Financial pressures at home, along with the cold hard reality of 1980s Britain meant that I changed my degree during my time at university, opting to study law. I enjoyed a successful career as a solicitor, and this led me to meet my husband. We’ve now both retired and I enjoy having the time to read Latin and Greek texts again. I think the school instilled in me a life-long love of learning – I continue to learn new languages and pursue my passion for music, singing in various choirs.

I believe one of the most valuable aspects of a GDST education is the unshakeable belief that it gives girls in themselves. This remains today as important as it ever was. My GDST education made me what I am today, enabling me to achieve my full potential. Had I had a daughter, I would have been very keen for her to receive a GDST education.

My advice to bursary recipients today would be that while it may feel strange and difficult at first, persevere and make the very most of the wonderful opportunity you are given. To those thinking of donating to bursaries, from personal experience I can tell you that you really will help a girl to achieve her full potential.

3 Annabel
Norwich High Sixth Form student

Coming to Norwich High School for Girls as a Year 7 bursary student gave me a new freedom of opportunity to grow, to push myself, and to pursue my academic interests. The school community is lovely. I feel that I have been embraced into it, and all my teachers have known me and carried me through.

Bursary awards are so important in supporting people from different backgrounds and with different interests. They are important not just academically but for girls with other interests too, like sports.

I am excited for the future and am looking forward to staying part of the Norwich High School family and the GDST.

4 Carrie Hayes
Norwich High School Alumna

I was at Norwich High School for Girls from 1986-1993. I wasn’t really aware at the time that we were applying for an assisted place. However, as small scale farmers my parents did not have the income to send me to Norwich High. In retrospect, I feel very grateful to have received this financial help. The High School not only inspired me academically, but I became very involved musically (Junior, Senior & Chamber choirs and Madrigal group; Junior & Senior orchestras and wind band). As a primary school teacher, I am known for encouraging children to learn instruments and I have been involved in many singing events. I put this down to the encouragement and opportunities given to me both by Norwich High and teachers such as Mrs Clouting and Mrs Weiland.

Bursary awards are important to enable girls to experience the wide range of opportunities Norwich High provides, both inside and outside the classroom.

If you would like to help the school to continue giving talented young people the opportunity to access the fantastic education Norwich High can offer then please click here to see what giving options are available.

If you would like to discuss anything further then please contact Elli Mitchelson, our Development Officer, who would be glad to talk through any questions or arrange a meeting via