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Old Palace Alumnae Hannah Banwell 2016

Old Palace alumna shares life-changing experience through The Whitgift Foundation Bursary.

Hannah Banwell left in August 2016 with three B’s in Biology, Chemistry and Maths. She began Old Palace at reception, attending the secondary school on a full bursary from The Whitgift Foundation. During her time at Old Palace, Hannah was involved in many of the extra-curricular activities and clubs such as the chemistry and biology society, receiving a silver in the Biology and Chemistry Olympiad.

Following her passion for Science, Hannah will be studying Biochemistry at Liverpool University. 

Choosing a unique school, perfect for you

Not many can say they study at a school that was once a palace where royalty such as King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I visited. “It’s pretty cool,” Hannah admits, referring to the mysterious forbidden back corridors and the great banqueting hall with magnificent looking wooden beams. “Also, I like the fact that it is an all-girls school, along with the strong history behind it.”

Unrivalled support

The Whitgift Foundation Schools have small class sizes so students receive individual and tailored support. “I wouldn’t have been able to go to my school if I didn’t have a bursary to support me,” Hannah explains. “I’m really glad that I chose Old Palace, as I don’t think any other school would have been as hands-on.”

“I’d advise anyone to apply for a bursary”

For Hannah, it’s simple: “Firstly, you have nothing to lose. Secondly, you’ll get to go to a school that has the potential to change your life.”

Supporting your success

Chemistry was a particular struggle for Hannah. Despite how much she liked the subject, she needed help answering the questions. The teachers supported Hannah and other Old Palace students by providing Chemistry help sessions once a week during lunchtime on the topics they had learnt during the week. “They were very good at identifying our individual needs and never made us feel silly for asking for help.”

Secrets to success

Hannah’s advice to any new starter at Old Palace is to: “Take the opportunity to get involved in clubs and activities as it is a great way to make friends and advance in your studies. Remember, everyone is just as nervous as you, so it is not as bad as you think.”

A rounded education outside of the classroom

Following her love for the sciences, Hannah became a member of the Chemistry and Biology society. This enabled her to try out experiments that advanced the school curriculum, putting her ahead of the syllabus. “In Biology we were able to take part in experiments from dissecting a heart, to transferring DNA from a jelly-fish cell into bacteria plasmid (which keeps all its DNA) causing the bacteria to glow the same as a jelly-fish.”

“My extra-curricular experiences triggered my interest to study Biochemistry at university”

Hannah’s love for Biochemistry was pretty instant. “I immediately thought ‘this is what I want to do from now on. I want to be able to transfer DNA.’ It also pointed out that I didn’t want to dissect things – I probably wouldn’t make a good surgeon!”  

Old Palace helps students achieve educational excellence

The transition from school to university can be quite daunting, but Hannah believes, “attending Old Palace has definitely made me more confident.” This is down to the staff’s dedicated teaching to install independency in the girls and support them to achieve excellent results academically, which Hannah admits “really helped me get better at keeping to deadlines, too.”

Aiming high for a bright future

Hannah has high ambitions after completing her Biochemistry degree and has her eyes set on the future: “I would like to study Masters in Genetics.” This will enable Hannah to look more into cancer research or immunology, particularly targeting specific cells, DNA and developing specific medicines that would work for the individual.

Hannah’s final words on Old Palace

“Thank you for supporting me to get this far and allowing me to dream big.”

Old Palace in three words

“Supportive, unique and happy.”


To apply for a Whitgift Foundation Bursary, visit our Bursaries page

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