Warden Stephen Jones: Our candidate will be like no other in the school's history (From The Oxford Times)
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Warden Stephen Jones: Our candidate will be like no other in the school's history
12:51pm Wednesday 5th September 2012 in St Edward's Bursary - win our £150,000, five-year bursary at the school
There is a year to go, but already the Warden of St Edward’s School is preparing to welcome a new pupil, and one like no other in the school’s history.
The young person Stephen Jones has in mind will be bright and ready to throw him or herself into the many extra-curricular activities that this famous independent school offers.
But what shall make this newcomer so special is that he or she will be arriving by a wholly fresh route — as the winner of a unique prize.
The competition — to mark the 150th anniversaries of The Oxford Times and St Edward’s School — is offering a full bursary worth £150,000 to a year eight child.
Not only is it the first time that the school, widely known as Teddies, has ever been involved in such a competition, Mr Jones believes it may well be the first time any independent school has offered readers of a local newspaper the chance to win such a life-changing opportunity for a child.
Stephen Jones, Warden“The competition is not a way for us to find a top scholar. We want to find someone who would gain from coming here, with the potential to do well and benefit from all areas of school life.
Mr Jones said: “We have always given bursaries and provided subsidised places. It is good for the school to widen access to what we have to offer.”
But this will be different and exciting.
He offers the reassurance that the competition is about providing a special opportunity for one person rather than trying to uncover a super brain.
“The competition is not a way for us to find a top scholar. We want to find someone who would gain from coming here, with the potential to do well and benefit from all areas of school life.
"The whole idea of the competition is not to attract middle class wealthy people and offer them a free place. It is about widening access to the school. The competition is a great way of doing that.”
Sitting in his study overlooking the school’s vast quad, said to be the second largest in Oxford, he readily paints a picture of the boy or girl that he expects to welcome there as a day pupil in September 2013.
“We will be looking for someone with real enthusiasm and all-round ability. Of course, he or she will have to be strong enough academically, but we are interested in finding people who want to develop other interests on a broader front: people who want to be involved in music, drama, art, sport, debating and CCF (Combined Cadet Force) for example — someone who will make the most of the extra-curricular activities.”
But for all its reputation as one of the country’s leading independent co-educational senior schools, the Warden warns that the competition will not be for everyone.
Parents, he makes clear, will need time and the inclination to be fully committed and heavily engaged in their children’s activities at Teddies.
He points out that the school days are long. Day pupils have to arrive by 8.30am and do not depart until after prep is finished at 9pm, and there are weekend commitments too.
Mr Jones, 53, it emerges is himself a comparative newcomer to St Edward’s.
The Anniversary Bursary is well named: for as well as marking the 150th birthdays of both the school and The Oxford Times , it also happily coincides with Mr Jones’s first anniversary as the school’s 13th Warden.
He arrived at the school from Dover College, where he had served as headmaster since 2004. But he has close links with Oxfordshire having previously taught maths at The Dragon School , and been a housemaster at Radley.