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Alex's story

26/11/19

Alex’s Headmistress encouraged her to apply for a boarding school place during her final GCSE year. She had noticed in Alex - who describes herself as being really shy throughout her teenage years - a potential that she knew would only be unlocked if she was encouraged out of her shell.

Alex lived with her mum - a carer - and two sisters in Blacon, a deprived neighbourhood on the outskirts of Chester. She was always studious but lacked confidence and kept a small circle of friends she had known since primary school.

Being identified as a candidate for a boarding school place Alex says was a really big moment in her life. “I was really surprised and honoured that someone had singled me out as having the potential to get an opportunity like that. Having people invest in you and telling you you’re smart, it made a massive difference to my confidence.”

She and a select group of other Blacon pupils travelled to Repton School to discover what a boarding school education had to offer. Soon after, Bradfield College offered her a place and she says that it was after a visit there that she really started to knuckle down.

“It gave me motivation to want to work harder. Once I’d realised it was something I really wanted to do, to try something else and branch out into new experiences, I was determined to get the good GCSE grades I would need”.

Despite her shy nature, Alex says she was surprised at how quickly she made friends when she arrived at Bradfield. “Being there at weekends meant I got to know a lot of people really well as we were encouraged to be independent and go in to the local town for meals together. My outlook changed hugely, and really quickly, going from this small place where I’d known everyone for years, to suddenly spending time with people from such different cultures. It made me realise how much people have in common despite our different backgrounds.”

Looking back at the 2 years she was at Bradfield, she says, “It’s made me so much more of a confident and sociable person, more able to adapt to different situations.”

Always really interested in history, Alex was identified as a gifted student early on in her placement and was able to access what she describes as “amazing” preparation for university applications. Securing A*AA in her A-levels she went on to Manchester University, and says that the Bradfield experience made her transition to university a lot easier than she thinks it might have been.

“Every day at uni I realise I’m benefiting from skills that I learnt at boarding school about self-discipline. The experience taught me how important it is not only to focus on working hard, but also as important to carve out time for independent study, time to focus on my wellbeing, to exercise, and I love writing so I do that a lot in my spare time to relax too.”

Now in her final year, she is hoping to pursue her passion for history with further study at Masters level, and in her spare time to continue volunteering in museums. “Being picked for the boarding school opportunity showed me that anything is possible. Now I don’t think twice about having big dreams for my future career. I want to combine my loves of history and creativity and become a curator in a museum.”

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