The two-year programme brings together selected students from ten Luton schools who take part in academic taster sessions held monthly after school at Lea Manor High School. As part of the programme, the students visit Oxford so they can meet Wadham students, become familiar with the Oxford environment and understand that the College embraces a diverse community with students of all backgrounds.
A year 10 student from Stockwood Park Academy commented: “Today was a new experience which I enjoyed and it opened my eyes to opportunities and a new way of living. I have a better understanding of uni and the different types thanks to this. It was an enjoyable visit.”
A Denbigh High School pupil added: “I really enjoyed today’s visit, as I was able to learn more information about university life at Oxford, which has encouraged me to go to university.”
Wadham’s Access and Outreach Officer Hugh Munro has been working closely with Luton schools to improve the programme year on year.
“The Year 10 part of the Luton Project now finishes with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Video session where pupils will research about studying science subjects at university and turn their findings into a video which can be used by the school. This session is going to be led by Causeway Education, a charity specialising in supporting young people during key transitions such as from GCSE to A-level,” he said.
Launched in 2015, Wadham is planning a major expansion of the Luton Project, in collaboration with the University of Oxford, expanding into Bedford and Bedfordshire. This will involve teachers acting as hub co-ordinators interacting with pupils regularly throughout the year alongside the Wadham Access Team. This aims to harness teacher expertise to boost the academic performance of young people and develop their skills to positively impact their future choices and destinations. This lifecycle approach is crucial in widening access to top institutions like Oxford.
Luton school students were joined on this Aspiration Day by pupils from Shenley Brook End School in Milton Keynes.