Fifteen state-school students, aged 16-19, from London’s East End, have followed a week-long programme of academically-rigorous study replicating a week in the life of an Oxford undergraduate studying Classics or Classical Archaeology and Ancient History. The summer school comprised Ancient Greek language classes (hosted at the Faculty of Classics), seminars by Oxford and Wadham academics, tutorials and written assignments.
Programme organiser, Emma Searle commented on the goals of the summer school: “At Wadham we are dedicated to encouraging all students with talent and potential to realise this potential and aspire to the best universities. Our Classics outreach work aims to increase access to Classical subjects for state-school students from areas with traditionally poor provision of Classics education and inspire them to engage with and enjoy this vibrant, stimulating, and rewarding subject. The summer school also aims to demonstrate other benefits to students who might not otherwise have considered a Classics degree: it is a proven route to success and achievement with a high level of employability as it provides graduates with a wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary set of transferrable skills that are highly sought-after in the workplace.”
Workshops at the Ashmolean Museum were led by Giles Richardson, Supratik Baralay and Martin Gallagher. While at Wadham the students enjoyed talks by Wadham tutors Stephen Heyworth (Gender in Antiquity: Texts and Problems), Peter Thonemann (Women in Classical Athens) and Justine McConnell (Women in the Odyssey), and by colleagues from the Faculty, including Dr Lydia Matthews (Homoeroticism in the Greek World), Dr Carol Atack (Growing up in Athens) and Wadham’s Access Assistant (and current Ancient History DPhil student) Emma Searle (The Archaeology of Sex and Gender). Mai Musié, Outreach Officer at the Classics Department led a Classics admissions workshop. The programme has been designed to challenge students to think creatively and laterally and to provide them with a real sense of achievement before they make their applications to university in the next few years.
The summer school also aims to complement the enrichment programme offered by the East End Classics Centre, collaboration between BSix Sixth Form College in Hackney and academics from leading universities, including Oxford. The Centre offers East End students, their parents and guardians an opportunity to attend lectures, talks and exhibitions about the ancient world entirely free of charge at BSix in the heart of Hackney. The core values of both projects are to raise aspirations and achievement.
The Summer School is an integral part of Wadham’s broader outreach work in East London and Bedfordshire, Luton, Cambridgeshire and Milton Keynes. Wadham aims to recruit students with the greatest potential, regardless of background, financial, or other circumstances. The College’s outreach work focuses on raising aspirations, raising attainment and providing enrichment activities which develop students’ knowledge of university-style teaching, learning, and thinking.