A three-year project that aims to make Oxford University’s assets accessible to the community has reached the halfway point.
Oxford for Oxford has created thousands of interactions between the University and local school children through a host of events held across the city.
Dr Anna Caughey from the University’s Widening Access and Participation team, who runs the Oxford for Oxford project, said: ‘Oxford is a fantastic place to live and we’re so lucky to be able to benefit from what the university has to offer. Everyone who lives here should have those opportunities, and you see how absolutely vital those connections are when you see our students running around museums with excited primary school children, looking at dinosaurs together, or mathematicians explaining their research to children and parents.’
Activities held as part of Oxford for Oxford have included school visits, trips and workshops, as well as appearances at family fun days and festivals. One such activity is ‘Museum Club’, in which pupils explore the University’s world-renowned museums and collections with the help of undergraduate students.
The project works with state schools in key areas of the city, helping support pupil attainment and promote connections between teachers, students, families and the University.
Holly Laceby, head of English at Tyndale Community School in Cowley, was invited with her pupils to visit Magdalen College to learn about the author CS Lewis. Speaking to the Oxford Mail, she said: ‘We were walked around by students who had volunteered to help and then given a talk in the library. The children were just gobsmacked by the whole experience. They were coming back to school saying “I want to go to university”, which is just amazing. For them to look up to people who went to university – especially when many of them won’t have any role models who went – has a huge impact on their personal goals. As a school the programme has given us amazing opportunities.’
Oxford Academy teacher Katie Braham, whose Year 8 and 9 pupils were given a tour of Trinity College, told the Oxford Mail: ‘The children spent time with undergraduates and had time to chat to them and ask questions about things like the food and what the bedrooms are like – real-life parts of being a student. Then we went with them to a Live Friday event at the Ashmolean Museum, which was fantastic. Some of our pupils have never been to the city centre before and might not ever have considered going to university, so it’s great for them to be able to have that experience. One boy said to me “Miss, the buildings are really posh but all the students are just normal people”. Learning that is what it’s all about.’