Five Colleges Announce Twinning with Local Primary Schools

Image Description: Somerville College, one of the five colleges joining the new partnership

Five colleges have announced a new partnership with local primary schools to provide more access to the University and academic support for schoolchildren in a pilot initiative led by the student charity Oxford Hub, which aims to reduce educational inequality in the city.

Under the new arrangement, St. John’s, New, Somerville, Trinity and Exeter colleges will be ‘twinned’ with Rose Hill, Woodfarm, St Frideswide, St Christopher’s and John Henry Newman Primary Schools respectively. The twinning will allow primary school pupils, their teachers and families to visit the colleges. Schoolchildren will have the opportunity to use college facilities and attend university activities such as attending workshops with academic tutors, have lunch at dining halls and sing in college chapels. They can also enjoy one-to-one academic support through Oxford Hub’s Schools Plus programme which matches local children with university students serving as volunteer tutors for academic tutoring. Specifically, St. John has announced that its undergraduate students will travel to Rose Hill in south Oxford to provide catch-up tutoring and extra-curricular activities.

Oxford Hub said that the vision of the programme is to “build long-term relationships between Oxford University and local schools, tackling educational inequality, raising local children’s aspirations and supporting them to achieve their potential”. The University added that “the new initiative is targeted specifically at primary school pupils in a set of schools in particularly disadvantaged areas of Oxford.”

Speaking about the twinning, Jan Royall, Principal of Somerville College and Chair of Oxford University’s Conference of Colleges, commented that the pilot will “[bring] the University and local community closer together and [reduce] educational inequality in our city.”

Professor Maggie Snowling, President of St John’s College, also stressed that “early school years set the stage for later educational outcomes” and said that she is “[looking] forward to opening the doors of St John’s to children from Rose Hill and learning from their experiences.”

Representatives from the primary schools have also welcomed the partnership. David Lewin, the Headteacher of Wood Farm Primary School, said he was “delighted to be a part of the new twinning project”, adding that this helps pupils have a ‘strong sense of connection’ to the city of Oxford. Sue Vermes, headteacher of Rose Hill Primary School and a St John’s alumna, said “I was privileged to study at St John’s as one of the first women admitted, and it would be wonderful to think that this link might open up for some of our children the possibility that they could also take that route in the future.”