Admissions and Outreach Blog

Inaugural Schools Ambassadors confirmed

by Marianne Talbot on Jul 18, 2017

We are very pleased to announce the appointment of the first Schools Ambassadors for this new initiative linking St Peter’s College to nine schools across England – focusing on providing professional development to teachers.

This innovative scheme is funded by the St Peter’s College Foundation*, and will involve St Peter’s academics, some of them professors, working with school teachers during the school year across a range of disciplines. The scheme will also help these particular schools better understand the admissions process, the college’s identity, and Oxford’s as a whole.

The teaching will be delivered at the college and via Skype with several sessions throughout the year. The teachers and leaders of their schools will be invited to visit the college. The St Peter’s College Foundation will pay all expenses.

Mark Damazer, Master of St Peter’s, said “I am delighted that we are trying something new in the interest of the individual teachers, their schools and the college. We know many teachers have a thirst to get back to their subject and we have academics here full of excitement about the thought of teaching motivated school teachers who want to refresh or add to their knowledge. I hope the scheme leads to a richer understanding in the schools as a whole about what an Oxford college is really like and helps boost the confidence of teachers to get their best students to apply here.”

For a full list of the Schools Ambassadors click here.

Applications are now closed for this year; thanks to all those who applied. More blog posts will be made next term, when we will be able to report on our launch event and initial mentoring sessions.

* The St Peter’s College Foundation is an independent, alumni-led, charity that supports St Peter’s College by investing in its people. The Foundation aims to support initiatives to attract the broadest range of potential students to the college, to provide financial support to students in residence at the college and to invest in maintaining and expanding the college’s teaching resources.

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.