Lauren Shields, Schools Liaison, Outreach, and Recruitment Officer

Welcome to our new Access & Outreach blog!

This first blog-post will outline how our relationship with The Access Project (TAP) has developed since the partnership launched in October 2022.

Back in October, Dr Claire Craig and I travelled to Whitehaven, Cumbria, to The Whitehaven Academy, one of our TAP partner schools. We caught the train up to Carlisle and then took a taxi to Whitehaven, which took an hour. We really felt the physical distance from Oxford, and it helped us to understand some of the barriers that students from West Cumbria face when thinking about their university choices. We were greeted at the school by all of the wonderful people that helped to make this partnership a reality; from school teachers, the Senior Leadership Team, and the folks at TAP.

The launch event was a chance for us all to meet some of the students who were, at the time, enrolling onto the project. There was a real sense of pride in the room, with students telling me that they felt proud that their school had been chosen to be a part of this project. They were excited to start, and felt optimistic about their futures. It was a truly heart-warming day.

Since the launch event, we have been receiving regular updates from Sam and Ellie, our two University Access Officers working across the TAP schools. Ellie, who works across Whitehaven and Workington Academies, and Sam, who is working across Darwen Aldridge Community Academy and Darwen Vale High School, have been really impressed with students’ willingness to be part of the programme. Students take part in one-to-one mentoring with Ellie and Sam, discussing things like university options and revision techniques. They also have group sessions, where they learn valuable information about student finance and the UCAS process. Students also get to receive free weekly tutoring from wonderful volunteer tutors across the country. We are so proud to say that we have over 30 volunteer tutors from The Queen’s College community alone – a mixture of students, staff, and Old Members.

TAP celebrated Volunteering Week in February, and used one of our volunteer tutors, Jim, as a case study. To read his reasons for tutoring and how he’s finding the process, take a look on the TAP website.

We are really happy to hear that all four of the schools have TAP embedded into the culture of the schools now. Students across the two regions are also beginning to think about Oxford as an option, through TAP’s Oxbridge Society. We can’t wait to continue to support this initiative in the coming years of our partnership.

Looking ahead, we now have a date in the diary to visit our TAP schools in Darwen. We look forward to meeting the students in these schools too, and find out how the first year has gone for them.

For updates on how our partnership with TAP is progressing, check out this blog where we will post regularly among our other Access & Outreach initiatives. You can also find updates on Instagram, by following @queensoxaccess.