Making decisions about university education can be quite a
challenge, and the earlier school pupils start to engage with questions about
their future the easier they find the process when they reach the Sixth Form.
At St John’s our Access and Outreach team have long been welcoming visits from pupils
in Years 10 to inform them about life at Oxford and to help them grow in
confidence in making an application to a competitive university.
Twice a week during school terms throughout the year, groups of pupils in Year 10 visit College for a day that is designed to be informative and inspiring. They come from non-selective state schools in our link regions of Ealing and Harrow in London and Brighton & Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex.
The day begins with an ‘Oxford Explained’ presentation on the university, its colleges and courses, followed by a Q&A session with some current students. Our visitors really like this chance to grill the students on what life at the university is really like, and to hear many myths being dispelled. The students then give our visitors a tour of College and lunch in Hall, with lots of opportunities for more questions, about how they juggle their workload with so many other fun and fascinating things.
The afternoon is spent in Academic Taster sessions or visits to one of the university museums. During subject sessions with College tutors pupils get a real sense of what studying that subject at Oxford is like, and practise engaging critically with academic material. At the museum, in object handling sessions, they get down to interacting directly with historic artefacts, manuscripts, books – even live cockroaches – and follow a series of clues on a ‘treasure hunt’ to engage in depth with the collections.
In the past few weeks alone, almost 70 pupils in Year 10 have visited the College, in groups of 10-15. They and their teachers have given us really great feedback on their experiences:
- ‘I really liked looking round the College, it gave me a better
understanding of life here and normalised it a little.’ Year 10 pupil
- ‘The personal talk from students helped me develop a more realistic
idea of university life in general.’ Year 10 pupil
- ‘A really excellent and worthwhile day.’ Teacher
" Before we came, only 2 put their hands up to being really interested in Oxford. Now they’re texting their mums to say how much they’re loving it! " Teacher