Katie Mans

“Sometimes good education can feel out of reach if you don’t know where your next meal is coming from… it’s really critical to help girls in that situation achieve their full potential.”

 

“I remember my first day at Shrewsbury really vividly – I was so scared. I was one of only two girls from my state primary school going there and it was very new and different. Shrewsbury felt very grand to me with all the buildings, and there were lots of girls who obviously knew each other, because they had been to the Junior School, so it was quite intimidating. It got to feel more familiar very quickly though, everyone was really friendly and actually I’m still best friends with one of the girls I met on my first day! She was my bridesmaid a few years ago and we had our first babies at the same time, so it’s safe to say I made friends for life there, right from the first day.

My parents separated when I was about four, and we’d moved to Shrewsbury because my Mum’s sister was living there, so I grew up very closely with my auntie and my two cousins and my little sister, and she also followed me to the high school. My Dad wasn’t very much in the picture at all. We saw him occasionally, but he wasn’t really part of our lives and he definitely didn’t contribute anything financially. My Mum was very much a single parent and we had no money… she used to put money in jam jars under the sink. It hadn’t occurred to her that we might be able to go to somewhere like the High School, but then one of my cousins was going and they found out, as part of the admissions process, that there were bursaries available and that’s how I came to apply. Otherwise, we would never even have thought about it, we would just have assumed that it was out of reach.

My time at Shrewsbury taught me a lot. It really did teach me the value of a good teacher, the value of having a teacher who could change how they explained things so that you would get it and who cares whether everyone understands. I had some really excellent teachers at the High School and without some of the support there, certainly in the sciences, I don’t think I’d have done very well.

Shrewsbury definitely influenced me in terms of the people I have around me – I still have a few friends from school that are my best friends now still, so that’s been a huge influence on my life. The school itself really got me interested in learning. In primary school, I didn’t really care that much – I was quite bright, so I found most of the classes a bit boring, I used to finish work before most people. It just wasn’t very stimulating and so it was only when I got to the High School that I was challenged a bit more and found that I really enjoyed being challenged. I don’t think I would have got through university without that sort of grounding and I have a curiosity now about all sorts of things and the drive to go and explore them, which I don’t think I would have had without going to the High School.

I think the GDST is an amazing network of schools. I have come across other GDST girls in my life in places I wouldn’t have necessarily expected to, so it’s nice to feel there is a network of old girls with this very similar set of shared experiences. I think it’s really important to have access to an education and I think that single-sex education is really good for girls – it probably says quite a lot that I would be extremely proud and happy to send my daughter to a GDST school. There isn’t one in my immediate town, but if there were, that would probably be the school I would send her to!

I think bursaries are so important because there are people for whom schools (like the High School) and universities further down the line all feel so out of reach because financially they might not know where their next meal’s coming from… I remember really vividly that one term my mum couldn’t afford the school shoes. So I think that to have bursaries available to help the girls who come from that sort of background to achieve their full academic potential is really critical. There is also an impact later down the years, way past school. If we don’t have people from all backgrounds coming up through schools like this and doing really well academically they’re not going to get into the great jobs and then we’re going to end up with boards full of old Etonians and it’s not diverse at all, and I think diversity is really key in a successful business in modern times. Otherwise, you’re just perpetuating the same history again and again and again. If I ever am in the place to be a bursary donor I will definitely, because I think it’s so important. I think this campaign is a great one!”

Katie Mans
Alumna, Shrewsbury High School
Class of 2000

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