Girl from one of UK's most deprived areas wins top school scholarship

East London student from one of the country’s most deprived areas wins £42,000 scholarship to study at girl’s school in Chelsea where Sienna Miller, Cara Delevingne and the Ecclestone sisters were educated

  • Ella Wellingbrook, 15, has grown up in humble surroundings in Canning Town
  • But she is set to join the private school boasting famous alumni in September
  • Ella had to take four entrance exams and an interview before being offered place

A teenager from one of the country’s most deprived areas has won a £42,000 scholarship to a top school which boasts alumni including Sienna Miller, Cara Delevingne and the Ecclestone sisters.

Ella Wellingbrook has been offered a place at the private Francis Holland School in Chelsea – geographically close, but worlds apart from her working class home in Canning Town, east London.  

The 15-year-old had to take four entrance exams and an interview at the school’s central London site before being offered a place.

In order to follow in the footsteps of other former pupils including Princess Margaret’s daughter, Lady Sarah Chatto, and do her A levels at the elite school from September, Ella needs to score 7-9 (As and Bs) marks in her upcoming GCSEs. 

Ella, whose father is a lorry driver and mother is a dinner lady, said her parents were ‘a huge inspiration’. 

She said: ‘They are hard working people who have always wanted the best for their children. 

Ella Wellingbrook has been offered a place at the private Francis Holland School in Chelsea – geographically close, but worlds apart from her working class home in Canning Town, east London

The 15-year-old, whose father is a lorry driver and mother is a dinner lady, had to take four entrance exams and an interview at the school’s central London site before being offered a place

‘They have really supported me all the way throughout the process and given me the confidence to believe that I could win a place at one of these top schools.

‘They have always been there for me, and I am so happy that I have been able to make them proud of me.’

‘I am really excited to be going to a school where lots of really successful and famous people went, it’s a huge honour for me.

‘I am not worried; I am from the same part of London as Danny Dyer so if he can be part of royalty then I am going to be absolutely fine at this school.’

EastEnders actor Dyer also grew up in humble surroundings but was revealed to be a descendant of King Edward III on an episode of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?

Ella added: ‘It will be proper east end meets west end and proper working class meets upper class but we will have lots in common, we are the same age.

‘The only difference is they have been privately educated but the education I have had at my school is just as good.

Model Cara Delevingne is among the former students educated at the school

‘It is an amazing school which really helps students from less privileged backgrounds fulfil their dreams and potential.’

Ella is currently studying at The Cumberland School which last year helped seven students win scholarships at top fee-paying schools including Eton College.

The Community Schools Trust (CST), which runs Cumberland School, manages the Prestigious Colleges Programme which helps students with application fees, interview preparation, and entrance exams.

Headteacher Omar Deria said: ‘We are extremely pleased for Ella and her family. This is yet another life changing opportunity we have been able to offer to our students.

‘We expect Ella to be the first of many this year and are aiming to improve on last year when we had seven leave for fee paying sixth forms.’

The Community Schools Trust has helped over 50 students win scholarships to fee paying sixth forms including four who have attended Eton College.

CEO Simon Elliott said: ‘We call The Cumberland School the dream factory because our outstanding teachers are making dreams come true for our students.

‘Canning Town to Chelsea is geographically not very far but there are huge cultural and economic differences.

‘Ella is an incredible bright student and has had an outstanding education already. She is well equipped to thrive and succeed in her new environment.’

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