020 Bursaries and strategy in practice with Bart Wielenga, Head, Blundell's School

Updated: Jan 24

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In last week's episode, I used the four building blocks of strategy to identify the key choices that governors and heads need to confront and make when they are crafting a robust bursary strategy. In this episode, I welcome Bart Wielenga, Head of Blundell’s School in Tiverton in Devon, UK to talk about how this model can be practically used and how we have worked together to develop a robust strategy for his school.


In our conversation, we discuss both bursaries and strategy. I begin by asking Bart about his reflections on crafting his bursary vision, and forming his school’s bursary ‘why’. We discuss how Blundell’s found a balance between transformational and smaller bursaries and between endowment and ‘spend now’, and how the school communicates how it is committing financial resources to the bursary programme.


We then cover the accelerators and sticking points faced at Blundell’s when it comes to bursaries and how they overcame the sticking points, specifically finding the right applicants and finding enough money to fund bursaries.


Finally, I ask Bart how the four building blocks of strategy has been successfully employed at Blundell’s, and how the model has helped clarify the thinking of the senior leadership team at the school.


Episode highlights

  • Introducing Bart Wielenga (02:06)

  • Crafting the bursary vision at Blundell's (04:00)

  • Accelerators and sticking points at Blundell's (22:15)

  • How did the model help at Blundell's? (30:17)

References and resources

Blundell's School

Episode 019: Craft your bursary strategy

Episode 013: Strategy: Four essential building blocks (Strategy Toolkit 2)

Rethinking Strategy in Independent Schools research report

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