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News16th August 2022

Ark students to benefit from new libraries and bursaries thanks to The Spencer Steadman Trust

Ark is delighted to announce a new partnership with The Spencer Steadman Trust, which will help support hundreds of students.

The funding is worth more than £90,000 and will see libraries at Ark John Keats Academy in Enfield, and Ark Ayrton Academy in Portsmouth undergo transformational refurbishment.

The Trust has also agreed to award three bursaries worth £45,000 for students going to study undergraduate degrees at Russell Group universities this September. Additionally, the trustees will offer these exceptional students work experience and mentoring opportunities.

Spencer Steadman was a successful businessman, world debating champion, Master Shark Diver, an authority in maritime archaeology, and a dear friend to many. Sadly, he died unexpectedly in 2019, aged just 41 years old. His family and friends set up the charity to reflect Spencer’s strong belief in the importance of education and equal opportunity for all.

Ark John Keats does not currently have an operational library as this was closed to make space for a senior common room. With this funding, the school plans to re-open a library that will meet its secondary students’ needs. Work has commenced, and the new library will be ready for students in September.

Ark Ayrton’s current library is away from the main flow of the school, but the redesigned library will be more accessible for pupils so they can enter it via the playground to use during their breaks and lunch. Work is being carried out over the summer break.

Venessa Willms, Ark’s Director of Education, said: “We’re so pleased to be working with The Spencer Steadman Trust. This generous gift will enable us to revamp our libraries and fill the shelves with quality books. The timing could not be more perfect as we prepare to enter the second year of our three-year network-wide reading strategy. In addition to the library and books, we are thrilled to be able to offer to our students The Spencer Steadman Trust-funded bursary award, putting our students on a solid footing as they enter University.”

Kate Steadman, Chair of The Spencer Steadman Trust, said: “The Spencer Steadman Trust was created to support the education of children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. In this, our first full year of operations, we are delighted to be able to provide financial support to enable three highly talented pupils to flourish at university, as well as support for critical infrastructure at two schools. Ark shares our belief in the transformative power of education and our passion for ensuring that all children, regardless of their background, should have simply the best opportunities. We are very proud to be working in partnership with them.”

The pandemic has made the need for extra support even more pressing. If you would like to help fund two programmes (school libraries and Inspiring Excellence Scholarships), you can find out more about our Closing gaps, opening doors appeal.