In September 200 sixth form students and 22 teachers from Kensington Aldridge Academy (KAA) came to Oxford for a residential week at Queen’s and Hertford Colleges. The school had found themselves in a unique situation following the Grenfell fire: with their grounds backing onto the Grenfell site, the school building was inaccessible due to ongoing investigatory work, and their temporary site was not scheduled to open until 18 September.
KAA Principal David Benson contacted an old university friend, Julia Thaxton, who is Director of Development at Hertford, to see if she could help. With some rejigging of summer conferences and renovation schedules, the College was able to arrange accommodation across the city, with lessons taking place at Hertford, Queen’s, Trinity and the Geography Department.
Staff attached to the School of Geography arranged lectures for the students every evening, and student helpers from Queen’s and Hertford arranged evening entertainment for the pupils, including a film night and a scavenger hunt around the sights of Oxford. KAA’s teachers accompanied the group, aiming to maintain continuity with their A Level curriculum, and taught lessons in seminar rooms and libraries. The visit ended with a lecture from Sir John Vickers on the banking crisis in the awe-inspiring surroundings of the Sheldonian Theatre.
David Benson, Principal of KAA, said: ‘This has been a fantastic start to the academic year for our sixth form students and we are incredibly grateful to Hertford College and Queen’s College for accommodating us. The experience has been great for our students and gives them a superb start to the year; I’m positive it will encourage students to apply for Oxford in the future.’
Rob Pavey, Deputy Head of KAA, agreed: ‘We have been overwhelmed with the generosity we have been shown. Our most sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone at Queen’s, especially to the porters, and to the kitchen and cleaning staff; nothing was too much trouble for them, and they have made the week not just possible, but wonderful. For many of our students, this was their first time away from home, and they have had an unforgettable week. It's a real tribute to the University and to how serious Oxford is about widening participation.’
Queen’s was delighted to host KAA's students, who were a credit to their school and teachers. We wish them every success in future – and maybe some will be back!