Welcome to my last update as Project Administrator.
My year of leading the project is almost up, and it has flown by. I leave St Peter’s knowing that the project has got off to a really good start, with nine schools working with their mentors to reignite teachers’ passions for their subjects and enhance their knowledge and understanding of admissions at Oxford.
When I set the project up in Spring 2017, I thought it would be tricky to recruit schools – teachers are amongst the busiest people on the planet after all. However, I was pleasantly surprised that we had more applications than places, but of course then we had to make some tough decisions about which schools we should select.
We tried to choose schools that had the most to gain from working with the college, both in terms of improving their knowledge and understanding of the admissions process and life as a St Peter’s undergraduate, and in terms of teachers’ own subject knowledge, enthusiasm and capacity to benefit.
From feedback so far, it is obvious that the project is having a positive impact in all our ambassador schools – on the teachers, on their students, and on the school more generally:
- I have recognised students with the potential to study at Oxford and have had positive discussions with them about working toward this goal
- It has been an invaluable and enriching experience. It also reminds me why I love teaching as I enjoy sharing the information with students
- After my first 2 sessions I acquired a greater depth of understanding in my chosen area. This has informed my teaching and I have delivered my topic more successfully to students than last year
- The project provides a framework in which to plan and ensures that it remains at the forefront of priorities in what is a busy work schedule. It allows the member of staff a platform in which to talk to other colleagues and to address students on this matter
- The event has raised the profile of Oxbridge - students are talking about trying for Oxford
It is also having a positive effect on St Peter’s academics who are mentoring the teachers:
- It’s great to see how the things we’re discussing in our meetings can directly translate to discussions and work in the classroom
- I sense that it is a big ask for [the ambassador] to read a couple of plays on top of contextual material on top of a full time job!
- The sessions have been much more interactive and engaging [than expected]
We are of course looking to get more suitably qualified students to apply to Oxford, and St Peter’s in particular, 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. It was wonderful to meet the ambassador teachers and senior leaders at the launch event in September, and I look forward to the 2018 application cycle with cautious optimism, to see if application numbers (and offers) start to increase.
The recruitment of Year Two ambassador teachers plus a few additional schools to join the second year of the project is getting underway, so watch out for future blogs announcing the new participants.
As I depart, I am handing over the day-to-day management of the project to Daniel Pugh-Bevan, Schools Liaison Officer, who can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to everyone at St Peter’s, and especially to all the mentors and ambassador teachers, for making my year here so enjoyable and productive. I look forward to seeing all the participants at the end-of-year exhibition and celebratory barbecue in June!