Too Poor for Posh School?
In March 2010, Richard Armitage narrated a documentary about boys competing for a scholarship to Harrow School.
The programme was part of Channel 4's award-winning Cutting Edge strand, a long-running series of documentaries about contemporary life. Too Poor for Posh School? showed a group of eleven shortlisted boys as they competed for two scholarships to the school in November 2009.
Concentrating on three boys, 10 year old Krishan and 11 year old Numhan and Tumiit, the programme showed them at home as they and their parents explained what it would mean to them to be able to go to such a prestigious school, and then followed them through the course of the day of tests and interviews at the school. At the end of the programme, the winners of the scholarships were revealed.
Harrow School is one of Britain's top public schools, offering a first class education to those boys whose parents can afford the high fees, nearly £30,000 per annum. (In the UK, the term 'public school' refers to an exclusive and expensive private school - it receives no public funding. Most public schools are single-sex boarding schools.) A higher than average proportion of Harrow boys go on to Oxford or Cambridge universities and from there to successful careers in the professions, in industry and in government. Old Harrovians count among their number Winston Churchill and several other British Prime Ministers, Nehru, Anthony Trollope, Lord Byron, as well as British and foreign royalty.
A former pupil of the school, Peter Beckwith, funds two full scholarships each year to allow boys of ability, but limited means, to be educated at the school. He has so far paid for 37 boys to attend Harrow. Given the advantages that a Harrow education confers on a boy, winning a Peter Beckwith scholarship is quite literally a life-changing event.
Whatever the issues concerning the desirability or otherwise of elitist schools for the wealthy that most ordinary children cannot hope to attend, Too Poor for Posh School? told a very human, and at times moving story.
It was widely praised by reviewers, the Radio Times calling it "another eye-opening and moving story in what is turning out to be an outstanding series [of Cutting Edge]."
UK viewers can watch the programme on-line on Channel 4's 4OD service (or view it on 4OD's YouTube channel). You Tube also has a short clip from the beginning of the programme which is available to those outside the UK.
Channel 4's page for Too Poor for Posh School?
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