Edinburgh school offers full bursaries to Syrian refugees

George Heriots School. Picture: Julie Bull
George Heriots School. Picture: Julie Bull
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ONE of the Capital’s top private schools has given full bursaries to three Syrian refugee children.

Bosses at the fee-paying George Heriot’s, which charges up to £12,000 for a session, said it wanted to do something to help the youngsters settle.

The bursaries were offered under the school’s Dulkanovic scheme – named after a refugee pupil granted a place during the First World War.

Edinburgh has welcomed around 50 Syrian families under the UK government’s vulnerable person relocation scheme.

Cameron Wyllie, the Lauriston Place school’s principal, said the children and their families impressed during the interview process.

The new pupils are due to start attending classes following the summer holidays this month.

He said: “What struck us about the families was their positivity. When we met with the children, with their families, we were all so taken by what they had been through and we decided there was no way we could turn them away.

“The kids were just like every other child we meet, they love life and they’re bursting to learn.

“I think if we had been through anything like what they have, there’s no way we would have the same attitude.

“They were so stoic, so optimistic and that positivity really just rubbed off on us all.”

A century ago, 27 Serbian refugee children were awarded full bursaries at the school during the First World War.

The Dulkanovic bursary was named after one of the boys, Dimitry, who arrived in Edinburgh courtesy of the school.

His last request before his death in 1995 was that he should be buried while wearing his school tie.

Mr Wyllie said it was important that the school’s traditions were upheld.

“Heriot’s takes its charitable contributions very seriously,” he said.

“We already offer 83 bursarial places under the Dulkanovic bursary scheme.

“They’re all full bursaries – that’s education, extracurricular activities, school trips, uniform, the lot.

“We don’t expect the families to have to incur any costs.”

It is understood Syrian refugee children are also being considered by other private schools in the Capital.

Figures released in May showed Scotland had taken in around 850 Syrian refugees under the UK government’s official resettlement programme.

A spokesman for the Scottish Refugee Council said: “We have been overwhelmed by the offers of support from all walks of life in Scotland to do their part in integrating refugees who are now beginning to rebuild their lives in safety across Scotland.”

“This initiative by George Heriot’s school to offer scholarships to talented Syrian children is one of these and is to be applauded.”