Oxford Outreach

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PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS • www.ox.ac.uk/outreach

A year of Outreach:

2000+ outreach events

ÂŁ5 million


spent on events and programmes

600+ students

eligible for Moritz-Heyman scholarships

ÂŁ8 million


student financial support available



identify as black or minority ethnic

97% OF STUDENTS said Oxford was a good place to be


RAISING ATTAINMENT Gifted students deserve time and support to reach their full potential. For them, Oxford has developed Opportunity Oxford and Foundation Oxford. Opportunity Oxford, our new residential bridging programme, helps students to make the transition from studying at school or college to studying at Oxford. Targeted at those who have already been offered places to study at the University, the programme brings students to Oxford in the summer before their first term. Academic sessions

refresh subject knowledge and fill gaps while also offering strategies for workload and time management. At the same time, students build a strong cohort so that they can go on to support one another. An online programme, for use alongside the residential course, offers interactive learning materials to boost knowledge and confidence.


Access efforts made here at Oxford were crucial in paving the way for me to end up here


I grew up on a council estate in Swansea, South Wales. I didn’t come from a background conducive to getting people into A Levels, let alone higher education – least of all Oxbridge. I was fortunate enough to attend a Pathways Day here when I was 15 – in that single day I’d gone from not particularly considering progression to higher education to deciding that I wanted to go to university, and Oxford was the place I would aim for. I came to Univ on the pilot year of the Opportunity Programme. If it were not for the constant endeavours of those engaged in access here at Oxford, I may well not have ended up here.

FFION PRICE, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE opPortunity programme alumni

Univ’s Opportunity Programme influenced me significantly in picking my college. Coming from a state school that Ofsted categorised as a ‘special measures’ school, it was important to me to apply to a college that had an access initiative as innovative as Univ’s. The time spent on the course was valuable in many ways: socially, academically, but most of all, as an acclimatisation period. The experience meant that, when October came, I was freshly aware of my capability and hit the ground running.



PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS • www.ox.ac.uk/outreach

REALISING POTENTIAL We know that students who have faced disadvantages are likely to experience an attainment gap, where their grades may not reflect their full potential. Foundation Oxford is being developed to close that gap, giving these students the chance to get where they deserve to be. Living alongside firstyear Oxford undergraduates, students will work with Oxford tutors to ensure they are ready for life at university. We anticipate that many of our foundation year students will transition successfully to an undergraduate degree at Oxford. Whatever they choose to do next, the programme gives them the chance to enjoy and benefit from full immersion in Oxford University life, setting them up for a successful future.

not see ‘‘myI didpotential,

but they did and encouraged me to apply...


My sixth-form was in Hackney and the teachers always encouraged their students to reach their best potential. I did not see my potential, but they did and encouraged me to apply for the Lady Margaret Hall Foundation Year. I was lucky enough to be offered a place on the Foundation Year and accepting it was the best thing I could have done for myself academically. I got to study a subject I love, Psychology, while learning how to become a better undergraduate student. The majority of contact hours came from tutorials where we would discuss the reading we were assigned and our essays. I also got help with writing essays which was something I had never had to do at A-level. Living in college with other students made me feel part of the college community and enabled me to envision my life after the Foundation Year as a student at Oxford. Although progression onto the undergraduate course was not guaranteed, the year increased my confidence in my academic ability and made me realise how much I loved studying my subject. After being on the Foundation Year, I couldn’t see myself studying anywhere else.



WORKING NATIONWIDE OxNet Hubs offer sustained contact to increase the number of state school students applying to Oxford. These access programmes began with a partnership between Pembroke College and one sixth form college in East London. Now, there are seven OxNet Hubs: two in Greater London, four in the North West of England and one in the North East. A hub model in target local authorities strengthens the long-term impact of outreach by building networks of schools, activities and support. From its hubs,

OxNet delivers academically intensive courses including lectures, study days and summer schools. It takes particular care to emphasise subjects not usually taught in state schools. Students are encouraged to work with unfamiliar material to refine their critical thinking and analysis, building their skills and their confidence.


The programme did wonders for my academic self-esteem


I was scared to move away from home, not only because my first time out of London to any other UK area was the trip to Oxford, but also financially. All this changed due to the access programme – without it I would not have gone on to achieve some of the things I am most proud of today. I felt that although I came from an underprivileged background where I was the first person to go to university in my family, I was that much closer to keeping pace when I went to university.


I felt that two kinds of student went to Oxford: posh kids from private schools and child geniuses from state schools that were probably members of MENSA. I did not belong to either group. The first time I became properly engrossed in something academic was the Pembroke access programme seminars at Canary Wharf. For me, the highlights were the seminars… The programme did wonders for my academic self-esteem.



PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS • www.ox.ac.uk/outreach

TARGETING TALENT Oxford’s colleges are working with students and teachers in state schools across the UK. In the North West, OxNet works with TCAT (The Challenge Academy Trust), an alliance of state schools. TCAT teachers and Oxford staff are collaborating to develop academic resources by using Oxplore (page 10) and through TCAT’s Scholars’ Programme. This programme promotes a love of learning, intellectual curiosity and explores cross-curricular links, encouraging students from non-traditional backgrounds to apply to Oxford. In the North East, a consortium of Oxford colleges – St Anne’s, Trinity and Christ Church – run a programme of events for students throughout secondary school, exploring the purpose of university and discussing subject choices. For those in Years 12 and 13, the consortium also funds residential stays at Oxford’s open days and offers specific advice on the application process.

Wadham College’s pioneering work with communities in Luton engages initially with Year 10 pupils (aged 14–15) and encourages them to consider applying to a ‘top university’. The college provides ongoing support to these pupils, so they can access advice and opportunities to put themselves in a strong position after their GCSEs. The Luton Project is developing, with 27 participants now in the second year of the programme as Year 11s, and a new intake of 50 Year 10s. Thanks to additional donor funding, the Luton Project is going to expand in Bedfordshire and will involve teachers acting as hub co-ordinators interacting with pupils throughout the year alongside the Wadham Access Team. The aim is to harness teacher expertise to boost young people’s academic performance and develop their skills to influence their future choices and destinations. By 2022–23, it is expected that 3,200 students will engage with the College annually through the initiative.

Applying to Oxford for me always seemed like a distant dream. It wasn’t something people from the west end of Newcastle did. I remember asking my history teacher about Oxford, who immediately started to manage and lower my expectations. It was only when another of my teachers told me I had a realistic chance of getting in, did I start to believe in myself. Applying can seem daunting but my advice would be to believe in yourself – as for me, getting a place did not turn out to be such a distant dream after all.


Very interesting session and eye-opening. The children I teach are not at the stage of applying to university, but this highlighted the importance of exposing children to subjects and allowing them to develop passion and having opportunities even from state schools.



INSPIRING AND INFORMING UNIQ is the largest university access programme of its kind in the UK, and has been increasing access to Oxford since 2010. In all, 7,000 students from UK state schools and under-represented backgrounds have taken part. UNIQ gives students a week at Oxford, experiencing the tutorial system first hand and enjoying university life. Current students and academics offer support, mentoring and guidance. The result? Those students who have attended a UNIQ summer school have a much higher success rate when it comes to getting an offer to study at Oxford. And UNIQ is transforming Oxford: about one in twenty first-year students has come through the programme. Now, UNIQ is expanding by 50%, with its intake rising from 850 to 1,350 students each year.


UNIQ Made me see that Oxford is open to all


Without UNIQ, I would not have dreamt of applying to Oxford University. My high school was rated inadequate by Ofsted and put into ‘special measures’ in my first year. This meant that the school never really pushed us to go onto higher education – let alone apply to Oxbridge. I did not think that I was ‘smart’ enough, ‘posh’ enough or in any way the ‘right kind of person’ to be at Oxford. But coming to UNIQ completely changed my perceptions of Oxford. I never felt out of place and, if anything, I was instantly made to feel comfortable – like I actually belonged here.



PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS • www.ox.ac.uk/outreach

Coming from Yorkshire, where progression to higher education is low, teachers’ and students’ aspirations were similarly low. I felt isolated and alienated by what seemed like a very confusing and complex application system to university. I wanted to experience what it would be like to study at university level. Oxford didn’t seem accessible to people like me. Attending UNIQ made me see that Oxford is open to all.


REACHING OUT ONLINE Oxplore, the Home of Big Questions, engages online with students aged 11–18 from every kind of background. Jumping into debates and ideas, it feeds young minds by mirroring the sort of thinking that Oxford courses offer. Everything from Oxplore’s title to the questions it explores come from the students themselves, and Oxplore also offers regular email updates for teachers and others who are supporting students.

in as far ‘‘asDelve you want’’

UNIQ Digital is an online platform which offers structured modules to develop critical thinking and essay-writing skills. In its pilot year, 44 students who followed the programme went on to receive offers from Oxford. Now, UNIQ Digital offers 1,000 places for UK state school students in Years 12 and 13. Students have access to exclusive lectures and to advice on everything from subject choice and application procedures to student finance, giving them a virtual flavour of university life. Current Oxford students act as digital mentors, boosting confidence every step of the way.

Oxplore is a great user-friendly website that we use regularly as part of our mission to support a culture of high aspiration, independence and challenge. The resources are broad, with everything from questions to think about, videos, extended articles, external links etc, so you can delve in as far as you want and keep finding new ideas.


I really enjoyed using UNIQ Digital. It gave me a much better understanding of Oxford University and of university in general. Getting feedback from students who actually went to Oxford helped me make decisions about my future. It encouraged me to take more time over getting my personal statement and overall application as good as possible.



PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS • www.ox.ac.uk/outreach

BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS Oxford is reaching out to students with ethnic minority heritage, encouraging them to apply and supporting them in making a competitive application. Oxford partners with diversity recruitment firm Rare and with Cambridge University to offer Target Oxbridge. Target Oxbridge offers a programme of critical discussions, seminars and tutorialstyle teaching for students with African and Caribbean heritage who are in Years

12 and 13 at state schools. With 160 participants each year, the programme offers mentoring by black and minority ethnic Oxford graduates along with visits to Oxford, advice on choosing a degree subject and interview practice.


We’re not just existing at Oxford, we’re thriving!


I’m finishing at Oxford in a few months and I’m leaving a very different place to the one I arrived at. Everything from the faces you see, to the atmosphere, are changing. Yes, they are small steps, but they are small steps in the right direction. Oxbridge myths around the ‘it’s not for you’ vibe can be really discouraging. But with Target Oxbridge you get to see for yourself what Oxford is really like, meeting people that look just like you, and seeing for yourself that we’re not just existing at Oxford, we’re thriving! Regardless of your social, economic or ethnic background, you do and will belong at Oxford.


Youth outreach is a big passion of mine, and inequality in education makes me really angry. Target Oxbridge is a great initiative. There are so many bright young people that think they would be out of place at Oxford, so don’t even consider applying. But, with Target Oxbridge, this is a chance to be in a whole room of people that are bright, your age and look just like you. I hope they find this reassuring and it makes them realise that we can all do it!



FEEDING CURIOSITY Computer Science at Oxford is showing school students why they might love studying a subject they’ve never tried before. InspireHer! is for Year-7 female students at UK state schools in the Oxfordshire area. Activities and challenges introduce girls to coding in a fun and interactive way and there is also the chance to visit a college and learn more about life at Oxford. A recent multiscience taster day, run with GirlGuiding Oxford, included a tailored verison of

InspireHer! which has now launched its own spin-off group, Coding Robots. Oxford’s Women in Computer Science Day is for those in Year 10 and also in Year 11, allowing high performing female students with a flair for mathematics to learn about Computer Science and its practical applications. Digital resources for use at home or in schools enhance opportunities to engage with new topics.

Developing their ‘‘problem-solving skills’’

The session was the highlight of the day for many of the girls and enabled them to work in teams, developing their problem-solving skills and learning computer programming skills. The Guides were so engaged during the activity, we decided to set up our own Coding Robots sessions to run in unit meetings for Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers. So far, we’ve run two trial sessions, enabling 29 girls to participate.



PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS • www.ox.ac.uk/outreach

OPENING DOORS Classics hasn’t always been open to everyone. Oxford is working to change that, with events and online resources to offer the study of classical languages and civilisations to those from state schools. Lectures, blogs and image archives offer ways into the classical world, while the OxLAT scheme offers intensive teaching for students in Years 8 and 9 who would like to study for a GCSE in Latin, but whose schools do not teach the subject. And we’re letting students know just how valuable the study of Classics can be in getting them the career they want.

I studied Classical Civilisation at a state school in South London before going on to do my BA and MPhil in Classics at Cambridge, and have been Outreach Officer for the Oxford Classics Faculty since 2017. It’s so important to let people know that all of our Classics degrees can be studied without having taken any specific A-levels, and that you can learn Latin and Greek from scratch at university (like I did!), or focus more on archaeology and ancient history. There are so many routes into Classics, and so many good reasons to engage with the culture and languages of the ancient world, that I love the opportunities to bring them to life with students of all ages.


SUPPORTING SUCCESS The Moritz–Heyman Scholarships allow students to take up their places at Oxford without worrying about finances. The Moritz–Heyman (MH) programme offers generous financial support alongside access to paid internship opportunities. From 2020, all UK resident students at Oxford starting their first

undergraduate degree who have a household income of £27,500 or less per annum will be invited to become Moritz–Heyman Scholars and offered a non-repayable Moritz–Heyman Bursary worth up to £5,000 per year towards study and living costs.


Money stress was the last thing I needed...


I want to express my gratitude for the support that I have received from Sir Michael and Ms Heyman over the past five years. I especially would not know how I would have been able to manage the financial demands of the extended terms of the Clinical Medicine course without the support of the scholarship, and I’m exceptionally grateful for the extended commitment that I have been given.


ADVANCING ACHIEVEMENT Oxford’s financial support package is one of the most generous available for UK students. Oxford Bursaries are nonrepayable and give support to eligible undergraduates with family incomes of up to £42,875 and to those who are care leavers or studying without family support. Colleges offer additional student support funds, and Oxford’s extensive resources for students help keep costs down.


Receiving the bursary has helped me to afford accommodation and study costs for my course without struggling financially, which makes all the difference to my peace of mind. I cannot only just focus on my academic responsibilities but take a more active role in student societies and college life.


PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS • www.ox.ac.uk/outreach

I come from a single-parent family and my mum has a chronic illness, as a result of which I’ve been her carer on and off for around five years. Money stress was the last thing I needed as I was preparing to come to Oxford. Without a doubt, the Moritz–Heyman Scholarship was one of the most valuable opportunities I’ve ever had.



RECOGNISING DEDICATION The Inspirational Teachers Awards are a chance for current Oxford students to nominate and show their appreciation for the teachers who helped them start their Oxford story.

and aspirations. Since 2011, around 80 teachers have received awards honouring the dedication they have shown.

We know what an enormous difference teachers make, inspiring students and supporting them to raise their attainment

She helped me ‘‘understand that I was

good enough for things beyond what others had judged for me


MICHAEL-AKOLADE AYODEJI nominated OLIVER SMITH, a sociology teacher at Halesowen College in Dudley MICHAEL: Mr Smith has an ability to relate to everyone. He would

recommend books outside our syllabus which facilitated critical analysis. This laid the foundation for my getting more engaged with the subject, reading around my syllabus, attending talks and seminars beyond A-level. OLIVER: I am delighted that I was able to play a role in Michael’s journey and to witness the results of his hard work, dedication and tenacity. His journey was incredibly difficult at times but with unwavering determination, Michael has proven that all things are possible. I became a teacher for this very reason, to allow those less fortunate to occupy ‘spaces’ that they believed were closed.

LAURA MCGRIELE nominated EMMA READ, Head of English at St Alban’s RC High School, Pontypool, Torfaen, Wales LAURA: Mrs Read helped me to understand that I was good enough for things beyond

what others had judged for me. She taught me the subject I now adore and study, pushing me every day to go beyond the stringent syllabus and into my own interests. EMMA: I applaud the fact that this most prestigious university is demonstrating a commitment to social equality, encouraging young talented people, often from deprived backgrounds, to aim high. I share this passion and it drives my determination to make my pupils believe in themselves and defy the expectations society has shackled them with. It is an absolute privilege to teach – to accompany young people on their journey of discovering, exploring and questioning the world in which they live.

16 PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS • www.ox.ac.uk/outreach

INFLUENCING OUTCOMES Oxford’s two-day residential teachers’ summer school is CPD-accredited. It offers subject taster sessions alongside detailed advice about the Oxford admissions process and a chance to learn from demonstration interviews. Current students share their experiences, and there are also opportunities to visit Oxford’s world-class museums and teaching facilities. The St Peter’s College Foundation Schools Ambassador Project links academics with state school teachers, offering mentoring in their shared subject areas, and is targeted at teachers in schools with a high number of potential applicants, but with little history of sending students to Oxford.

Dr Lee Shau Kee Building will provide dedicated space where school pupils from Wadham’s target areas can participate in outreach programmes. Combining worldclass facilities with academic mentoring and information about what university has to offer, the aim is to inspire young people to reach their potential and consider applying to Oxford. Current Wadham students will play a vital role, meeting and talking to school pupils about their personal journeys to Oxford from a variety of backgrounds. Recognised by the Guardian as a national first, and with £14m of generous donor funding secured, the college is now entering the final phase of its appeal to secure an additional £4m and deliver the facility by June 2020.

Wadham College is developing Oxford’s first dedicated Access Centre, as part of the college’s commitment to widening access. The £18m Access Centre in the

In the past, we have often had pupils apply to Oxford, pass the first stage of the selection process and then falter at Becher’s Brook: the interview. It was fascinating to hear of the process and to listen to some of last year’s applicants describe their experiences as well as the professors and tutors discussing what is actually being assessed. The whole experience was enlightening and even surprising when it was established that interview questions were there specifically to support candidates to discuss their thinking, the quality of the dialogue being important, not necessarily the ability to find a correct answer.


the whole experience was enlightening and even surprising


I have been able to use some key ideas in lessons from my Skype session and I think it has enabled my students to understand that the academics whose opinions we are reading in our textbooks are real people, with whose ideas they are allowed to disagree.


OLAVE DARGE, Madras College, St Andrews, Scotland


REACHING OUT Oxford’s work with students and those who support them is expanding every year. These are just some of our events and activities.

IN OXFORD University Open Days – the chance to see departments and colleges Opportunity Oxford – residential bridging programme for students from under-represented backgrounds holding offers from Oxford Foundation Oxford – foundation year of study and preparation for university life, for students from underrepresented backgrounds UNIQ – spring and summer residentials for 1,350 UK state school students Oxford Pathways – sustained contact activities in Oxford run by colleges for state school students in Years 10 and 11 Subject Taster Days – run by departments and colleges and offering a chance to experience university-level study Year-12 study days – subject-specific higher-level study for high-achieving students IntoUniversity – a sustained contact programme for those in Years 10–13, including the IntoUniversity South East learning centre supporting aspiration and attainment in Oxford’s most deprived areas Museums Outreach – including workshops and events for thousands of children Target Schools Shadowing – matching Year-12 students with undergraduates at Oxford for a day of information and activities Class Act – Oxford Student Union campaign to attract and support students from under-represented backgrounds Oxford for Oxford – working with local state schools in Oxford to support attainment

AND BEYOND Oxford and Cambridge Student Conferences – large-scale regional ‘open days on the road’, attended by around 10,000 prospective applicants each year Higher Education Fairs – face-to-face advice about applying to Oxford (working with UCAS and UK University Search)

Interview workshops – in schools/colleges and in Oxford for prospective applicants and teachers OxNet Hubs – sustained academic enrichment for school networks in London and the north of England Annual Access Conference – organised by the students of Oxford University and members of the African and Caribbean Society with support from Oxford’s admissions and outreach staff Pakistani and Bangladeshi Community Outreach – events aimed at talented Asian students, their parents and teachers Target Oxbridge – supporting high-achieving students of African and Caribbean heritage applying to Oxford and Cambridge Luton Project – Wadham College working with Luton schools to raise attainment among pre-GCSE students TCAT – academic enrichment programme for students in the North West SMF North West Collaboration – between Mansfield College and the Social Mobility Foundation for disadvantaged high-achieving students Seren Network Hubs and Jesus College Summer School – working in partnership with the Welsh government to prepare students for UCAS high-tariff universities Sheffield Roadshow – Magdalen College access visits across state schools in Sheffield Floreat Access Programme – run by Balliol College for students in Year 12 in Hertfordshire North Yorkshire Roadshow – Brasenose College students and academics touring state schools in North Yorkshire Christ Church Horizons – Christ Church offering academic enrichment for Year-12 students in Barnet Corpus Christi College Ancient World Schools – seminars bringing Oxford research to arts students from Derbyshire to Greater Manchester Lincolnshire Access Initiative – run by Lincoln College and offering taster days, information sessions and residential visits for students

18 PATHWAYS TO SUCCESS • www.ox.ac.uk/outreach

North West Science Residential – run by The Queen’s College, an Easter residential programme for Year-12 students Step Up Programme – run by New College and supporting high achievers from 11 partner state schools Northern Ireland Summer School – run by St Catherine’s College, a summer residential for students from Northern Ireland North East Summer Schools – run by St Anne’s College, Trinity College and Christ Church, residential summer schools for state school students from the North East

SUBJECT-SPECIFIC Classics Faculty outreach – widening access to classical studies in the state sector for students and teachers Women in Science Days – run by Jesus and Trinity Colleges Pathways to Law – working with the Sutton Trust we support students in Years 12 and 13 from underrepresented backgrounds interested in going into law Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge – introducing students to computer science through a school-based challenge

Target Schools Roadshow – presentations delivered by Oxford students in schools and colleges around the country

Problem-Solving Matters – face-to-face events and online mentoring to help Year-12 students develop problem-solving skills

Surrey Schools – St Hilda’s College Partnership – a programme of information sessions and subject tasters for state schools

InspireHer! – coding day for girls in Year 7 run by the Oxford Women in Computer Science Society

St John’s Inspire Programme – run by St John’s College and offering events, visits workshops and online support for pupils in Harrow and Ealing Student Ambassadors – students from all Oxford colleges working with schools and colleges in the UK Study Higher Partnership – working with Reading, Oxford Brookes and Bucks New Universities to raise aspirations and attainment for school and college students The Brilliant Club – supporting students at nonselective state schools

ONLINE UNIQ Digital – online learning platform with structured modules and advice on university life and applications Oxplore – digital outreach and learning portal for students aged 11–18 Staircase 12 – University College’s online hub of resources for students thinking about applying to top universities Oxford Sparks – digital learning portal for schools engaging with Oxford’s scientific research Oxford and Cambridge Collaborative Outreach Network – website offering resources for teachers and prospective applicants Future Leaders Magazine –sponsored by Oxford to celebrate and support talented black students

Marie Curious – science event for girls in Years 7–9, with sessions provided by different departments Stargazing Oxford – public showcase event exploring space science and astronomy Oxford Maths Festival – an extravaganza of all the wonderful curiosities of mathematics, with events for all ages

FOR TEACHERS Study Week for Teachers – St John’s College one-week summer residential offering admissions information and career/personal development (CPD-accredited) St Peter’s College Foundation Schools Ambassador Project – offering academic mentoring by college academics for a small group of teachers each year Inspirational Teachers Award – recognising state school teachers who have supported successful Oxford applicants from under-represented backgrounds Regional Teachers’ Conferences – held across the UK to equip teachers supporting Oxford applicants Teachers’ Summer School – residential conference for teachers from state-funded schools and colleges in the UK PGCE Support and Teach First – briefing sessions for Oxford students involved in TeachFirst and the PGCE Teachers’ Newsletter – news and event listings, sent five times a year Oxford Education Deanery – research-engaged professional learning partnership for local teachers



Images: Edmund Blok, John Cairns, David Fleming, Ian Wallman, and Oxford University.