In the Easter vacation I organised the third Somerville Access Roadshow with a team of Student Ambassadors, writes Emily Louise (History, 2017). We visited nine non-selective state schools over two days within the College’s link regions of Hounslow and Kingston-upon-Thames.
Within this short timeframe, we were able to help deconstruct many preconceptions held about Oxford, with the pupils having questions and holding beliefs about Oxford that I myself used to hold when I was at school. Some of the schools we visited had never had pupils attend Oxbridge, whilst others had limited experience of the process. It was a fantastic opportunity for current Somervillians to speak openly and honestly about our experiences in Oxford, and Somerville specifically, and show them (the pupils and teachers!) that Oxford is not for one particular type of person. It was wonderful to hear, even from the teachers, that they had learnt something new.
The Ambassadors led different group sessions, and we gave presentations to larger groups on Oxford, scholarships and the bursaries that were available, as well as the myriad of societies within the College. We conducted a presentation on ‘myths vs realities’ (this is always fun!), and the process they could undertake to find out more about Oxford (from Summer Schools to taster days.)
We mentioned that Somerville also has a popular ‘Girls into Science’ residential in Hilary term. We then broke off again into smaller groups to do interview-type workshops and this worked very well.
You could see that the students were engaged and interested, and some of them had such unique approaches to the questions asked. It was good for us to hear where they were coming from so that we can tailor presentations in the future.
We have received lovely reviews and comments from the schools we visited, such as a teacher saying that ‘they had excellent feedback from [our] students and they really enjoyed their day!’ Another teacher said that their feedback ‘was really positive.’
The impact that the Roadshow makes isn’t always easy to quantify, but the fact that we are able to speak to pupils from varying backgrounds is pivotal to spreading positive awareness about Oxford and promote inclusivity and diversity.
Had it not been for the Somerville Roadshow visiting my School a couple of years ago, I would not have applied to Oxford! We also look forward to reporting on the use of the Access Fund, which will be used to help pupils attend outreach days at Somerville and enable us to cover teaching-cover at schools who would otherwise not be able to take-up visits to our Open Days.
The Student Ambassadors and Somerville College would like to thank all the supporters of the recent Access crowdfunding appeal, and in particular to our generous Matching Fund donor, Charlotte Morgan.