The inaugural recipient of Queenwood’s Build-Your-Own Scholarship loves to write: she writes about flame-haired heroines with crimson lips who carry daggers in their boots; she writes about storms that ‘claw through the ground hunting for prey’; she assiduously reviews literature on her blog ‘BookAddicts’. Her heroes are authors: she thinks J.R.R.Tolkien is ‘ever-glorious’; she thinks C.S Lewis is ‘thought provoking’; she wants to be a ‘story-weaver’ like J.K.Rowling. She is 10 years old and already steadfast in her desire to attend Oxford University to study literature. She is an excellent English student and she does well in mathematics but she works slowly so her examination results are affected and she is unlikely to qualify for an academic scholarship; but she does deserve a scholarship. So what does she do? She applies for a Build-Your-Own Scholarship at Queenwood.
If this sounds like your child she may be the ideal candidate for a new scholarship program being offered at Queenwood School on Sydney’s Lower North Shore.
The Build-Your-Own (BYO) Scholarship seeks to identify uniquely gifted and talented students who may otherwise go unrecognised.
Specifically aimed at unconventional high-achieving students, the BYO Scholarship sees applicants augment academic results with demonstrated skill, personal references and a structured interview. The goal is to uncover the full breadth of a student’s capabilities and capacity to contribute dynamically to the life of the school.
Students who show exceptional aptitude in any field are encouraged to apply and while an excellent report card is a prerequisite, topping the ACER scholarship exam is not. Queenwood has found that the most passionate learners are not always the best exam takers. The BYO process is calibrated to capture outstanding talent not readily divulged by exam results alone.
“Some schools offer scholarships just to the students who score the top marks in the scholarship examination. We shortlist the top 10 to 15 candidates and conduct a tough interview engaging them in an intellectually challenging discussion. The strongest performers in the interviews were not necessarily the top exam scorers. In the last scholarship round the candidates who ranked 2nd and 14th secured academic scholarships,” says Emma Macey, Queenwood’s Director of Admissions.
“You would find that just below the top, there are candidates who achieve top marks in General Reasoning even if they are slightly lower in the reading and writing sections. This indicates that they are intelligent, have potential and may perform well in the interview. Those students make a valuable contribution to the school community by engaging energetically in classroom discussion and lifting the overall level of discourse,” Mrs Macey says.
Another aim of the BYO Scholarship is to address a perceived gap in the independent schools scholarships offering: that of students from middle-income backgrounds for whom full fees are too onerous but their financial circumstances are such that they don’t meet the criteria for a full means-tested scholarship, says Mrs Macey.
“Queenwood offers a contemporary liberal education that encourages students to build knowledge of a broad range of topics; to do this effectively we must ensure that we have a diverse range of students from a range of socio-economic backgrounds who are able to participate in intellectual discourse. We wish to expose our girls to a wide variety of people and ideas to help them grow in their understanding of the world.”
Queenwood recently awarded their inaugural BYO Scholarship to Maya Le Her who will join Queenwood’s 2019 Year 7 class. Her successful application encapsulates the talent-centric ethos underlying the BYO Scholarship’s broad remit.
“Maya is the daughter of an old girl. She’s a very talented writer and she compiled an extraordinary portfolio of stories, photographs and ideas evidencing a true passion for literature. Her test results were exceptional in English but she only got through about half the Mathematics section — Maya scored well in the sections she did answer but she wouldn’t have made the cut on her exam ranking,” Mrs Macey says.
On the strength of her portfolio, Maya’s application was referred to the Catalyst Coordinator at Queenwood, Dr Rosalind Walsh, who supervises high potential learners at the school. After reviewing Maya’s test paper, she concluded that that Maya “is not a poor mathematician; she is a slow, methodical mathematician. It is likely that she is a ‘thinker’ who needs time to process information and respond accordingly. She is probably better at coursework than examinations and we can work with that.”
‘The point is that Maya is brilliant, engaged and her enthusiasm is infectious. She’ll be an asset to the school,” Mrs Macey says.
“The BYO Scholarship is consistent with our approach to general admissions as it adopts a robust procedure that ensures equity between applicants without compromising our primary objective of empathetically supporting the circumstances of individual families. We expect that the bespoke approach that we take to the BYO Scholarship program will continue to attract interesting, passionate and curious young women to the Queenwood community,” Mrs Macey says.
BYO Scholarships are available for Year 7 and 10. Applicants are required to prepare a portfolio of their own work and nominate two referees outside of their immediate school/family circle who know them and their skills well.
The best portfolios demonstrate talent, self-motivation and enthusiasm for learning, Mrs Macey says. She recommends that interested students start preparing now for next year’s application round to ensure that their work is of the highest quality.
For more information on the Build-Your-Own Scholarship see: https://www.queenwood.nsw.edu.au/Enrolment/Scholarships