Cassidy Hill saved for two years throughout her sixth form to take up a BEd degree in teaching at Winchester University but was concerned that she still would not be able to afford to attend university – even with a student loan.

“The grant was a massive help because my mum just couldn’t afford to give me anything towards university. I had worked for two years while I was in the sixth form at Matravers School but it still wasn’t enough to cover my housing and food as well. Having the grant meant that I could travel home to see my family and it sounds so silly, but being able to afford food and not worry about it was really important for my mental health.

“I still worked while studying, teaching dance at a stage school at weekends, but the bursary meant I didn’t have to take on more jobs. It was a big relief not having to worry so much about money. I think I would have still gone to university without the bursary but it would have been really difficult and I would have had to work longer while I was there so it made a massive difference. I had placements at Sparsholt in Winchester, Tidworth and Shipton Bellinger and I had to travel an hour to get to my third placement so the grant helped with that too.

“It has been a really different year. In the first lockdown I was still a student so I was learning online and now all of a sudden I was teaching online as I got a job as Reception Teacher at Shrewton Primary School after graduating. It was really tough but I’ve always wanted to do something with kids and every time I go into school I think ‘yes, this is my place’.

“The bursary has been brilliant and I wouldn’t have enjoyed university nearly as much, or done as well, without it.”

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