Admissions and Outreach Blog

Welcome to my first update as Project Administrator of the St Peter’s Foundation Schools Ambassador Project! Since the middle of March, I have been busy agreeing a title for the project (very important!), its aims and objectives, and developing a specification, including a detailed timeline, risks and issues, and a detailed budget for the project.

The project is designed to provide career personal development for teachers in their subjects by pairing them with an Oxford academic while raising the profile of St Peter’s and the University as a whole. We are looking to get more suitably qualified pupils to apply – not least from students with under-privileged backgrounds. This project builds on the original aim of the college to provide a low-cost Oxford education for promising students of limited means.

St Peter’s will offer academic mentoring from college academics to a different group of around eight teachers each year. We want to enhance the teachers’ subject expertise and knowledge of university admissions. Ambassador Teachers and their Headteachers (or Heads of Sixth Form) will also be invited to Oxford for two events per year, to get to know the college, its facilities, and key staff.

In return we are asking Ambassador Schools to act as advocates for St Peter’s College and the University of Oxford, both within the school and in the local community, building a strong and sustainable relationship between the school and the college, using local press/networks and social media.

We are currently running an application process in order to select an appropriate mix of Ambassador Schools, committed to the project and offering a geographical and subject spread across the schools and teachers. We are hoping to mentor teachers working in a range of subject disciplines – in the humanities, STEM, or the social sciences. We expect to be over-subscribed, but would encourage other interested schools to contact us if they believe they meet the following criteria:

  • Few applicants to Oxford over the last decade (less than 15), especially if none or fewer than five have been successful in gaining a place
  • Pupils achieving or expected to achieve at least three A grades in their A levels
  • Located in an area of considerable social, educational, and economic disadvantage (POLAR3 groups 1 or 2, drawing on ACORN categories 4 or 5 – see http://www.hefce.ac.uk/analysis/yp/POLAR/ and http://acorn.caci.co.uk/infographic for more detail)
  • Teachers keen to develop their understanding of a specific aspect of their subject and their knowledge of the Oxford admissions process

If we have no places left for this year we will bear your school in mind for future years.

If you are interested in applying, and would like further information, you can contact me via outreach@spc.ox.ac.uk or Daniel Pugh-Bevan, Schools Liaison Officer via schools@spc.ox.ac.uk.

Look out for more updates during the summer!

Name

Annabel Westermann

Degree

Theology and Religion

Year of Degree

2nd Year

Hometown

Aylesbury 

‘A’ Level Subjects studied before Oxford

Mathematics, Physics, Art

Some advice about the application process

It may sound counterintuitive, but I feel my lack of real interest to get into Oxford actually helped my application! I (pessimistically?) thought how unlikely it would be for me to get in and so I looked at the application as a fun learning experience. I just tried my luck and saw what would happen, as I would have been more than happy to go to the other universities. In the end, I was made several offers. This helped me avoid stress, so I could think more clearly and creatively in the tests and interviews, and perform better. This may not work for everyone, but maybe it worked for me?

Some advice about the Oxford interview

Talk through all your thought processes, ‘show your working’, then conclude your answer.

Some things that every sixth former should be doing

Keep active! A Levels are stressful, so no need to make them doubly so. Have fun with friends (just not too much fun, mind. You have exams to pass!)

Something you wish you hadn’t done

I wish I hadn’t let stereotypes about Oxford create a mental barrier. Go in with an open mind and soon you will ‘get’ the bubble and may even come to love it! 

What has surprised you most about Oxford?

The number of extra-curricular activities I’ve (just about) managed to fit in. People are also incredibly driven and it’s very impressive.

What is it about St Peter’s that makes it the place to be?

FANTASTIC location, the best porters and lovely brick arches.

Did you have a career plan before you started at Oxford?

Absolutely no clue.

Has that changed since you started?

I’ve found Oxford can deliver so many opportunities, and the people you meet will open you to so many different options and career paths too, so just put yourself out there and see what happens.

How confident are you that your degree will help you be whatever you want to be when you leave?

77% confident.

Anything else you want to say?

So many coffee shops.

It all kicks off again (Year 3!)

by Lucy Dixon on Sep 12, 2016

As I start my third year as Schools Liaison Officer, I’ve decided to filter a few more things through this blog so that readers can see what I get up to when working with schools. 

In the past, this has been a great forum for our current students to share their experiences of St Peter’s, and it will continue to be so, but with recent good news in the press it seems apt to showcase more about what goes on behind the scenes in our bid to attract the best applicants from all over the UK and to make sure that information about the University of Oxford gets to all those who have the potential to benefit from it. 

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it countless times again: here at Oxford, we don’t care about what you look like or sound like, and we don’t care what you wear or where you’re from. If you’re interested in a subject and you can demonstrate those good grades, we want you to apply. It’s this reason alone that sees me traveling thousands of miles across the UK each year talking to bright students, who often just need a nudge of encouragement to make them think about applying. 

Behind the scenes

Although August is (naively) set aside for those irksome admin tasks that never quite get done, it actually becomes a time of burning off the overtime that has been accrued from the busy summer months. 

Across June and July, I ran 19 events including a teacher conference in Liverpool (which was kindly funded by alumni who had attended St Peter's in 1969), three days on the Isle of Man delivering talks about Oxford and attending their annual HE fair, and a whole host of UCAS fairs and regional events. 

We were also really pleased to welcome Southgate School (Enfield/Barnet) and Manchester Academy to the college for a day at the end of June, where they received talks from the Maths department, the Pitt Rivers Museum, and had a tour and lunch with current students at St Peter’s. This is only a snapshot of what goes on in the ever-changing world of Widening Participation and Access, and you’ll see more of this in the coming weeks and months. 

Happy New (Academic) Year!

As schools opened their doors to a new cohort of students this week, my inbox opened its door to three million emails (mild exaggeration, though it doesn’t feel like it). The buzz of the new academic year means that as Schools Liaison Officers, there’s a lot of momentum from schools to get events booked in. Already my calendar suggests that I’ll come back up for air at some time at Christmas (which suits me just fine)!

My first event of the season took place last night in St Asaph, Denbighshire. It was the launch of the new Conwy/Denbighshire hub that is part of the Welsh Government’s Seren Network: an initiative to encourage more applications from high achieving students across Wales to top universities across the UK by providing super-curricular support to students from schools across the country. 

The event was a huge success and the venue was packed out, with around two hundred parents and pupils attending. I’ll be seeing these pupils a lot in the next couple of months, and it was a great way to introduce myself and to get an idea of what they’re all interested in and thinking about. 

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