School Visits & Virtual Access
Since in-person visits to the College resumed last term, it has been great to see school pupils walking through our doors once again, to learn more about the college, eat in Hall, and interact with our students and academics. This term, we have more than 400 pupils from 20 different schools already booked in for Hilary Term visits, and the Access team will also be travelling to state schools in our link regions to speak at higher education events – helping to widen our reach to those unable to make the trip to Oxford.
Even with the welcome return of face-to-activity, virtual resources remain as important as ever in making our activities accessible, as the last two years have shown. With a number of remote visits planned, the Access team have devised several new projects to showcase St John’s to prospective students. There is a brand-new ‘DIY Virtual Visit’, featuring videos, resources and an opportunity to ask questions of our current undergraduates. We have also initiated our ‘Student Life’ video project, working with the JCR to shed light on college life and study, culminating in a series of student advice videos discussing topics such as money management and extracurricular activity.
St John’s has been at the forefront of expanding access to younger age groups, with initiatives such as its pioneering Pre-GCSE Programme. This year, we’re delighted to build on this even further with Inspire Primary, as we pair with Rose Hill Primary School in south Oxford, part of the new Oxford Hub initiative which twins Oxford colleges with local primary schools in disadvantaged areas. This will see us opening our doors to pupils aged 4-11 and their teachers, helping to break down barriers between ‘town and gown’ in the local community, and broadening the horizons of children from an early age. The headteacher of Rose Hill, Sue Vermes (herself an alumna of St John’s), has said:
“I am delighted that we have been invited to be partnered with St John’s College... I was privileged to study at St John’s as one of the first women admitted, and it would be wonderful to think that this link might open up for some of our children the possibility that they could also take that route in the future.”
Pre-GCSE Inspire Programme
However, the programme doesn’t end here, as we’re excited finally to welcome all 330 participants on the programme for a series of one-day trips to St John’s in July, after their exams have finished – trips which the cohort have waited very patiently for over the last three years, as the pandemic has forced the postponement of trips for the last two summers. The programme will culminate with the Summer School, which this year will see a selection of pupils from each school join us for a three-day residential summer school at St John’s, with the rest able to take full advantage of a remote summer school.
We're delighted that despite the ongoing challenges that the pandemic brings to schools, Inspire After-School Clubs have continued to run in all 24 secondary schools on the Pre-GCSE Inspire Programme in Ealing and Harrow, with Teacher Coordinators delivering sessions last term on topics from technological solutions to Climate Change, to the ways in which maps can affect the ways we see the world around us. With our cohort now in Year 11, this coming term will mark the final term of After-School Clubs, before we take a pause for their GCSE exams.
Inspire Programme for Years 9, 10 & 11
We’re thrilled to welcome over 1,800 pupils from non-selective state schools across the whole of the UK onto our online Inspire Programme for Years 9, 10 & 11 – our biggest ever cohort on this programme! The theme of this year’s critical thinking programme is “Visions of the Future”, and comprises four online classes packed with articles, challenges, and further resources created specially for this programme, by a range of St John’s Fellows, academics, students, and staff. The first class was released on 5th January, featuring articles on topics as wide-ranging as the nature of time and progress in the ancient world by Classics Fellow Dr Emma Greensmith, and the role of gene-sequencing in the fight against Covid-19 by St John’s Medicine student Oliver Bredemeyer. We have already begun receiving some outstanding pieces of work contributed by the pupils enrolled on the programme, and we hope to share some of these on Inspire Digital over the course of the year.
Three more classes will be released between now and Easter, with all 1,800 enrolled participants then eligible to join a remote summer school taking place in August. In addition, Year 11s on the programme will be able to apply for a place on our residential summer school – the first in-person summer school held since 2019!
Post-GCSE Inspire Programme
Michaelmas Term saw the launch of a pilot Year 13 Inspire Programme, in which St John’s undergraduates helped guide a cohort of Year 13 pupils through interview-style unseen material, and discussed their experiences applying to university. This term, our pupils will enjoy online academic taster lectures, in a range of subjects from sensing pain to Ancient Rome, alongside sessions in such skills as critical thinking and presenting an argument.
As we begin the New Year, we are also pleased to announce that our Inspire Programme for Years 12 & 13 is open for applications! Pupils joining us this year will participate in a two-year programme, comprising online Twilight Sessions (including academic and skills development elements), as well as the opportunity to apply for reserved spaces on our St John’s Study Days and Subject Exploration Days. To further support pupils during Years 12 & 13, parents, carers and teachers, will be invited to online webinar sessions, including a talk on ‘The Oxford Admissions Process’.
This year we are also very excited to launch our brand-new Inspire Research Project, during which pupils will be guided in how to prepare and submit a research project proposal. Winning entries will be awarded book vouchers, and participants will be invited to attend a research day at St John’s College.
All Year 12 pupils enrolled on
Inspire 12 & 13 will be invited to join the Year 12 virtual Summer School.
Additionally, pupils will be able to apply to attend a residential summer school
Year 12 Study Days and Subject Exploration Days
For the first time since March 2020, we are delighted to be able once again to host Study Days and Subject Exploration Days in-person in college. During these events, pupils are able to experience higher-level study in their chosen subject area, and find out more about applying to Oxford. The annual Classics and Ancient History Essay competition opened for applications last term, and there are a number of further events planned for 2022, including Modern Languages, Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Mathematics, Chemistry and English. Our Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Study Day will be pioneering a new interactive online format, in order to expand the event to as many pupils as possible.