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‘A culture of philanthropy’: Tonbridge is a winner in the IDPE Development Awards

Hundreds of primary school children take part in Giving Day 2023 at Tonbridge

The School has won a prestigious national award in recognition of the success and impact of its Giving Day campaigns.

On Friday 17 November, Tonbridge was declared a winner in this year’s IDPE Development Awards, in the Engagement Campaign of the Year category.

The IDPE (Institute of Development Professionals in Education) showcases excellence in schools’ fundraising and engagement across the UK each year, rewarding exceptional achievements with its annual awards. 

Only three schools across the UK were shortlisted in the Engagement category, with IDPE member schools voting for the eventual winners, selecting those achievements they found the most inspiring.

Tonbridge’s Giving Day (pictured), which takes place at the end of the Summer Term, is the School’s annual flagship fundraising event, bringing together its whole community to work together for a common cause: namely, the ambition of increasing the number of bursary places by 2028, the School’s 475th anniversary.

This year’s Giving Day raised more than £525,000: since the inaugural event in 2021, the total raised exceeds £1.5 million. All donations go to the Foundation Awards and support Tonbridge’s strong commitment to widening access, ensuring that the School continues to offer life-changing, educational opportunities to many academically able and talented boys. 

Beyond the fundraising aspects, impressive as they are, Giving Day serves a much wider purpose: that of raising awareness of the bursary programme, engaging the School community, embedding the topic of bursaries into School life and fostering a culture of philanthropy. 

The theme of community and inter-House competition inspires student, staff, parent and alumni involvement. Students are engaged with a fun ‘Taskmaster’ challenge, for instance, with Houses keenly competing while keeping a close eye on the House leaderboard. 

This year, nearly 700 primary school children, from 14 local schools, spent a day at Tonbridge taking part in a range of activities, from archery, art and athletics to dance, poetry, drama and science, with everyone encouraged to enjoy themselves and to ‘have a go’ at something new.

Hundreds of students and staff put in a day’s work, ‘giving back’ to the School’s community partners with a series of projects such as creating nature areas, installing water features and organising fun runs in primary schools, and even working alongside Kent County Council staff to help tackle riverbank erosion in a country park.

This year’s event was supported by a total of 675 donors as well as match funders, challenge gift sponsors, boys, parents, staff and the wider School community of OTs and friends. 

Adrian Ballard, Director of the Tonbridge Society, said: “Giving Day is building our culture of philanthropy, engendering a sense of community in our students and inspiring them to have good hearts as well as fine minds. After three highly successful years, there is a heightened sense of ownership of this event across the School, making it an annual tradition in our calendar.”

Reflecting on the Engagement Campaign of the Year entries, Lead Judge Julie Robinson, Chief Executive Officer, Independent Schools Council (ISC), said: “It has been wonderful to see the wide range of engagement projects nominees have embarked upon, developing links across communities by reaching more alumni and new contacts, to benefit current pupils.

“These awards celebrate the work schools are doing to engage their broader communities. Nominees deserve to feel proud of their achievements, successfully bringing people together around the school’s mission and values.”

Pictured above: Hundreds of primary school children gather at Tonbridge for Giving Day 2023. 

Below, from top: James Priory, Tonbridge's Headmaster, on Giving Day; activities in the community; and a thank you from the School to all who supported this year's event.

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