“I never give because I think there is a need. There are lots of needs. I give because it’s a programme I’m interested in and I think I can make a real difference.”
Alex Spanos, US Billionaire
Monmouth School for Boys owes its existence to the generosity of William Jones in 1614, subsequent benefactors and the astute stewardship of the William Jones’s School Foundation (“WJSF”) established in 1614 by The Worshipful Company of Haberdashers who, according to the wishes of Jones built the school and have been Trustees of the foundation ever since providing governance and financial leadership.
During almost 400 years of history, Monmouth School for Boys has educated boys to work hard, aim high and to foster lifelong friendships. It is where they have learnt to become men of integrity with respect for the people and places around them. All boys, whether their parents have paid full fees or none, have benefited from the generosity of our founder through the endowment income from the William Jones’s Schools Foundation.
As Monmouth School for Boys was gearing up to commemorate its 400th Anniversary in 2014, it established a Development Office. The anniversary provided a marvellous focal point to highlight the current needs of the School; to celebrate successful alumni; to inspire current and future generations of Monmouth School for Boys pupils to go out and emulate their predecessors; and to bring the success of the school to national attention.
Monmouth School for Boys currently supports 2 out of every 7 boys through a means-tested bursary. This is an enviable position to be in but one that is now under threat as it can no longer be wholly financed through income from the William Jones’s Schools Foundation. Securing additional funding to support such a large proportion of boys became a priority – we are determined to continue to offer open access to pupils from all social and financial backgrounds as we believe this is a crucial element to Monmouth School for Boys’ identity.
The cost of funding bursary places at the school is £1.1m per annum and, for the foreseeable future, the income from the Foundation will cover only half this amount. The shortfall is currently funded by Monmouth School for Boys’ trading and fee income, but this left virtually nothing for major capital and refurbishment projects.
The school announced ambitious plans to significantly improve teaching and learning facilities for the future, to give current, and subsequent generations of boys, the best possible learning environment. Called ‘The Heart Project’, the buildings provide modern teaching spaces and a new dining hall, and liberate capacity in New House to expand boarding provision.
In 2013, Heart1 was completed, which included replacing the Red Lion Block with a handsome classroom and administration office building (named the William Jones Building). Funding for this partially came from a draw-down of capital from the William Jones’s Schools Foundation, which has had the knock-on effect of reducing the amount of annual endowment income currently used to fund bursaries.
Heart2 was achieved in stages.
Stage 1: expanding boarding capacity in New House and School House, when administration offices and the Religious Studies department were moved to the new William Jones Building, and updating the exterior of Weirhead to cement the growth in boarding numbers seen in recent years.
Stage 2: Updating and improving kitchen and dining facilities at Monmouth School for Boys in line with increased numbers on our roll.
Stage 3 involves replacing the tired and dated building behind New House which currently houses the Modern Foreign Languages and Geography department. This new building will reflect the standard already achieved with the William Jones Building and will provide the very best teaching and learning environment for our current and future pupils.
Stage 4 brings everything together with a linking glass atrium that will provide fluidity of movement between the new buildings and a covered ‘outdoor’ space for boys to meet during bad weather.
Heart2 will only be possible if the school is successful in securing significant donated income. Current estimates place the cost of all three stages at around £8m.
What has been done to date?
Monmouth School for Boys has seen a massive amount of capital investment over the last decade. Those who know the school well will have seen a purpose built prep department, a new Sports Centre that is shared with the local community, the building of the new Blake Theatre and drama studio, a state-of-the-art Sixth Form boarding house (Buchanan) and an enviable Sports Pavilion. Total expenditure is in excess of £20m and whilst these achievements are laudable, there is still a lot to do.
Why does it matter?
This is the closest remaining example in South Wales, of the former, academically-selective Grammar Schools of the post-war era. As a single-sex school, with co-educational courses in the Sixth form, teachers at Monmouth can provide the right conditions to inspire boys – particularly in early adolescence. In the 50s and 60s, South Wales had several great selective grammar schools producing university applicants from all social and economic backgrounds. These have all now gone and, for a boy of talent from a low-income background, Monmouth School for Boys provides one of the few avenues to top university entrance. Teachers from local primary schools still recommend Monmouth School for Boys to parents – whatever their social or financial background – as a place where learning is nurtured and celebrated. In 2012, 9% of leavers took up an Oxbridge place, with a further 65% placed at Russell Group universities.
How do we plan to achieve our objectives?
In 2012, Monmouth School for Boys established its Development Office. The function of Development is to engender a life-long interest in the future and health of the school through participation in events, access to work opportunities for current boys, and to secure financial donations and legacies where appropriate.
Philanthropically-minded OMs (who have themselves benefited from a Monmouth School for Boys education) former staff, governors and friends will be asked to help current and future generations of boys to have the same advantages that they had, by donating to the Bursary and Scholarship Fund. This will then help to liberate surplus trading income to support the funding of Heart2.
Increase in numbers
With the extra capacity created in New House and School House we are aiming to increase current boarding numbers by 9% through a targeted campaign to expatriate communities in the Middle and Far East, and closer to home, to cultivate more regional boarders and through our own OM community.
An audit of overhead costs is underway in order to achieve the best possible operating costs for the school.
The school is looking for committed donors who, dependent on their means, are able to give small, medium and large gifts to help support bursaries which will free up income to help fund Heart2 over the next few years. Timed to coincide with the 400th Anniversary, those with a lifelong interest in the school, whether as a former pupil, former member of staff or friend were asked to contribute at a level that is affordable to the individual but which helps the school achieve its overall aims and objectives.
In order to achieve this, Monmouth School for Boys created the ‘Monmouth Schools’ Charitable Trust’ to mark its 400th Anniversary.
Those donating to Monmouth School for Boys will be able to do so via this newly-formed Trust. The Trustees will be made up predominantly of Old Monmothians who will ensure that all gifts are spent in accordance with the wishes of the donor and for the benefit of Monmouth School for Boys (or Monmouth School for Girls, if that is the donor’s wish).
Existing donors to the Monmothian Charitable Trust, which is the charitable arm of the Old Monmothian Club, can choose to set up a new standing order to the Monmouth Schools’ Charitable Trust and/or increase their existing contribution to the MCT indicating that their donation should be channeled to bursaries at Monmouth School for Boys. It is also perfectly feasible to indicate a preference in favour of sport, music, academic etc.
It is the aim of the Development Office to attract donations in excess of £3m (overall estimated cost for Heart2 is £8m) over the next 6 years and to build on the generous culture of regular donations already well established by the Old Monmothian Club
In order to achieve this target, a combination of one-off donations, regular monthly or annual donations and legacies will need to be committed. Early indications are most encouraging.
We hope you will consider donating during your lifetime and remembering Monmouth School for Boys in your will. Your help could make all the difference in supporting the next generation of boys through this fine school and securing its future for generations to come.