2021 St John’s Inspire Virtual Summer School in review

Date 9 August 2021

The past week has marked the second entirely virtual St John’s Inspire Programme Summer School, with three strands for Pre-GCSE, Year 10 and 11, and Year 12 pupils.

The summer school has been a huge success, with over 1000 visitors to the Inspire Digital website viewing an average of eight pages each in the first week, and an enthusiastic response from pupils, who have already sent in some excellent work as part of our prize draw.

Participants on the Pre-GCSE Programme examined what counts as realism in literature and whether there could be life on Mars, as well as taking part in skills sessions on goal mapping and making informed choices hosted by Positively MAD. There were also daily extension activities in collaboration with Oxplore encouraging participants to consider a series of big questions, from whether humans are ruining the Earth to whether it is possible to live without laws. The Pre-GCSE timetable is available by clicking on this link.  

Pupils on the Year 10 and 11 Programme were also tackling the big questions with Oxplore, as well as considering how to take the perfect penalty and the maths of marathon running with Dr Tom Crawford. All strands spent time researching whether we should eat insects in schools with the Oxford Museum of Natural History and exploring portraits throughout history with the Ashmolean Museum. We received some fantastic piece of work from these sessions, including Harvey's design for an at-home cricket farm to keep you well fed and Tejuspreet's fantastic self-portrait, both featured in this article. The Year 10 and 11 timetable is available by clicking on this link.

Should we eat insects

This year the Year 12 summer school was themed around careers so, in addition to an exciting range of academic talks and skills sessions, students had access to a Careers Inspiration Hub featuring videos from a range of graduates – including several St John’s alumni  talking about their working life. There were nine featured careers throughout the week, ranging from research scientist and IT professional to MP and author, with each page including further resources and related activities. Students also worked on an academic poster on personal identity over the course of the week, with a competition currently underway for the best posters. The Year 12 timetable is available by clicking on this link.

Some of our most popular sessions include Goal Mapping hosted by Positively MAD – which has prompted some very ambitious responses from pupils! – and Noisy Classroom’s video masterclass on writing and delivering a persuasive speech, with pupils sending in work on the impact of climate change and why dance should be considered a sport. The Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s session on whether we should eat insects and academic talks on getting to grips with the Greek gods and life on Mars have also proved popular with participants.

Tejuspreet self-portrait

All content will remain available on the website until 23rd September for students to complete or return to whenever is convenient for them. We’ve already received 44 submissions of work completed on the summer school, some of which are featured throughout the article, in response to our prize draw.

We would like to thank the pupils who have already participated in the St John’s Inspire Summer School this year and those who will be accessing the material over the coming few months. We hope that they have enjoyed the summer schools and continue to find the sessions useful as they continue their studies!

A huge thank you also goes to everyone who has contributed to the summer schools, including our St John’s students, tutors and alumni, without whom this would not have been possible.

We’re very proud of the 2021 St John’s Inspire Summer School, and look forward to building on our successes next year!