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On 7 July 2020, Eton College announced the launch of the Orwell Award 2021. Every year, this Sixth Form scholarship programme offers fully funded places to talented boys whose life opportunities have been limited.

The College is now searching for candidates from UK state schools who will embrace the breadth of the Eton experience in and out of the classroom, and who have the academic aspiration, with the support of Eton’s staff, to apply to the most competitive universities. In 2021, up to 12 free Sixth Form places will be offered as Orwell Awards.

Named after author and Eton alumnus George Orwell, the Orwell Award will cover all fees, including boarding, as well as allowances to enable Orwell Award holders to fully participate in the life of the school. The aim of the Orwell Award is to provide a transformative educational experience that candidates otherwise would not have been able to access.

Eton’s Head Master, Simon Henderson, explains: “Since 1440 Eton has been committed to enabling talented boys to come to the school no matter what their backgrounds or their financial circumstances. Over the next few years, we will be extending our range of financial aid programmes, such as the Orwell Award, so that at least 10% of pupils are on fully funded places.”

Applying for a place at Eton can be a daunting prospect, but this did not deter Josh, who is already a Orwell Award holder: “Personally, for me, I had my doubts as to whether I’d get in or not – and look at me now. Coming to Eton has broadened my horizons in many ways, but it has definitely made me feel anything I want to do is possible as long as I put my full effort into achieving it.”

Whilst some scholarships focus exclusively on academic entry criteria, the Orwell Award takes into consideration how academic achievement can sometimes be held back by personal circumstance. Therefore, applicants are also assessed against specific criteria, such as if a boy has refugee status or is a Looked After Child, if a boy is in the first generation of his family to go to university, if he is in receipt of the Pupil Premium or if he currently attends a school Ofsted has identified as ‘requiring improvement’ or in ‘special measures’.

Simon Henderson adds: “We are looking for talented boys for whom the warmth, rigour and breadth of a residential Eton education will be invaluable. We particularly welcome applications from Looked After Children and from those whose personal circumstances have presented them with particular challenges.”

Hamza, who like Josh is already an Orwell Award holder, has also had time to reflect on his Eton experience: “I’m from East London so it’s a completely different thing coming into a school like this, but it’s not as daunting as it seems… The best thing about Eton is that it allows you to become who you want to be. It brings out what your passions are and it gives you the chance to try anything that you think you will be good at and, if you are good at it, Eton pushes you to become even better and really brings out the best in you.”

There are two further strands of the Orwell Award, the Sixth Form Music Award and the MCM Drama Award, which are available to outstanding musicians and exceptional drama students.

Further information about the MCM Drama Award, which welcomes applications from boys who are passionate about the theatre arts, is available  here.

Further information about the Sixth Form Music Award, which welcomes applications from boys with a strong commitment to their music making, is available  here.

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