Old Palace alumna shares how receiving a Whitgift Foundation bursary has shaped her future.
Natalia Almeida left Old Palace of John Whitgift School having achieved two A*s and one A with a love for English Literature. She used her passion for English to set up an English mentoring scheme for GCSE students and started Old Palace’s first school magazine initiated by students. Following her academic achievements, Natalia will be taking a gap year touring Europe on a fundraising service project in youth development and leadership. Natalia shares her experience at Old Palace School and how receiving a Whitgift Foundation bursary has shaped her future.
A unique school in the heart of Croydon
Every student enjoys a welcoming first class academic education at Old Palace. “You never feel alone there,” Natalia says. “Its friendly environment instantly made me feel comfortable.” With a supportive pastoral ethos, students feel supported in their studies, especially during the busy exam periods and applying for university. “The teachers are extremely supportive,” Natalia admits. “Their devoted interest in your studies and belief in your capability to achieve is very unique.”
The Whitgift Foundation bursary opens doors
Bursaries can be life changing and make all the difference to students at the Foundation’s three schools. “The bursary has opened a lot of doors for me. It gave me the opportunity for a better education. I know that if I had gone to another school I would not have been as driven in my studies.”
Supporting students through school
Natalia was in the Netball team and also the Senior Choir society. She had the chance to set up the school magazine with her friend, which was printed and sold at Christmas fairs. Natalia also initiated the school’s GCSE English mentoring scheme which allowed her and other students in her year to help other Old Palace girls prepare for their GCSEs, giving advice and bonding with girls outside their year group.
Studying at a school that was once a Palace
Studying at a school that has so much history attached to it is “special”, according to Natalia who shares her experience at Old Palace School. “Some of the classrooms are rooms that Queen Elizabeth I once stayed in,” she explains. “We also had a visit from Princess Anne which was really nice. It’s great to have the opportunity to connect with the heritage and Tudor traditions.”
Lessons learnt leaving school
Natalia’s belief is to take opportunities wherever they are. “The more opportunities you take up, the stronger your character becomes,” she explains. “I was a shy student when I first started school, now I’m a confident public speaker, thanks to the experiences I had at Old Palace.”
Old Palace prepares you for your next steps
During Natalia’s time at Old Palace, she was given a lot of public facing duties through her role as House Leader in the student leadership team. This involved organising and running assemblies and house meetings. “The fact that I had to speak to an audience every week, has prepared me for my gap year when interacting with different cultures and languages and speaking in front of people.” Old Palace encourages students to take a language at GCSE; Natalia chose Italian which will help her through gap year.
“Old Palace shaped me as a person”
Natalia is really grateful that she went to Old Palace. “It shaped me as a person and helped me establish what I want to do in life. I went back the other day and it truly felt like home. I will definitely visit again in the future.”
To apply for a Whitgift Foundation Bursary, visit our Bursaries page.