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Supporting Birkbeck: Denton Wilde Sapte

International law firm Denton Wilde Sapte has again supported 12 new postgraduate students at Birkbeck by offering bursaries to those undertaking study with a social, regenerative or environmental purpose, making London a better place to live and work.

Matthew Crowley, studying a Master's programme in Modern and Contemporary Literature, is one of the students who is benefiting from a £1,500 bursary for both years of his two -ear course. After a recent change in career, Matthew has been working as a teaching assistant at Lauriston Primary School in Hackney.

It is a demanding job; 13 of the 30 pupils in the class have special needs. Reflecting on his work so far Matthew states, 'It’s a challenging group to work with. I try as much as possible to integrate with the group without being noticed, offering support wherever it is needed. There are kids at both ends of the spectrum, some who need additional help and others who are really bright and need to be pushed further.

'The bursary has been a godsend. When I found out I had got a place at Birkbeck, everything changed and I needed to find a way to cover my costs. I was willing to do whatever I had to do to pay for it and had arranged a loan from a family member but with the new baby I would have been seriously struggling. The bursary has given me the time to spend with my family, which is priceless.

Already Matthew is using literature and skills drawn from his course to help those with additional needs. For one or two afternoons a week, he helps two struggling students who conversely have high reading skills but low comprehension levels. Together they have been reading Treasure Island, a book above the reading level of the students but one that has proved to be successful in getting them excited about reading. Matthew explains, 'There are only so many times you can read a "Biff and Chip" book and not know how it ends. It has been a step up for them. We read a chapter in each session and then I get them to perhaps draw a picture of what has just happened. At the start of each session I ask them to recap, not just on the last chapter but the story so far. Introducing sequential thinking has helped them feel a bit more grown up and mature.'

The Denton Wilde Sapte bursary could not have come at a better time for Matthew. He and his partner had their first child just before the autumn term at Birkbeck began. 'It’s a shock to the system but it is manageable so far. The course is structured really well and it is clear what I have to do.'