As part of a new initiative designed to help widen access to Oxford University, Balliol invited secondary state school teachers for a day of professional development ‘tutorials’ with Balliol tutors and information sessions about the Oxford admissions process.
Following their meeting with a Balliol tutor – teacher and tutor matched according to their area of academic focus – the teachers will have follow-up mentoring sessions with the tutors by Skype. As well as this academic opportunity, the teachers had a talk by the Tutor for Undergraduate Admissions about the Oxford admissions process; another by the Outreach Officer on all the Oxford resources available to teachers and students, such as Oxplore; and a tour of the College.
At the end of the day all three teachers said that their understanding of the admissions process and Oxford’s support for teachers had improved a great deal; one who had thought beforehand that he was aware of some of the resources realised that he had been unaware of the majority of them.
The pilot project will run for a year, during which the teachers will act as ambassadors for Balliol and Oxford within their schools and commit to developing a programme for their able students. In return, Balliol will provide support for the teachers’ schools in developing these programmes for able students, as well as the academic mentoring sessions.
The purpose of this new way of engaging with state schools is to help equip teachers to provide for able students and to dispel myths about the Oxford admissions process - and therefore to raise student attainment and encourage applications to Oxford.
The teachers all come from state schools in Hertfordshire, Balliol’s link region. Following evaluation and review at the end of the programme, the College hopes to expand it to include other schools in the region.
Photos by Keith Barnes: above Dr Stefan Sienkiewicz (Career Development Fellow in Ancient Philosophy) (right) with a teacher; below Dr Sebastian Shimeld (Julian Huxley Fellow and Tutor in Zoology, and Tutor for Undergraduate Admissions) (left) with a teacher.
Below: Pravahi Osman (David Freeman Outreach Officer) (right) with the three Hertfordshire teachers.