January saw the launch of an exciting new programme of outreach events developed for local school pupils aged 9-12 in Local Authority care.
The programme is called Pathways to University and was developed by Magdalen College in partnership with the Oxfordshire Virtual School for Looked After Children and Care Leavers, 0-25. The aim is to help pupils learn about university life at a young age to give them the tools and the confidence they need for the future.
Dr Aoife O’Higgins, Postdoctoral Research Associate at Magdalen, who instigated the project, said, “Department for Education statistics show that fewer than 10% of care experienced young people go to university by age 19, and they are also more likely to drop out even if they secure a place.
“However, when the right support is in place and they complete their degrees, the majority of care experienced young people perform as well as their peers.
“This is why it is so important for us as a College and a University to reach out to these pupils and introduce them to university life.”
The first event of the programme involved 22 pupils from schools across the county. The day began with a workshop called ‘C.S. Lewis and the Origins of Narnia’ led by Magdalen Fellow in English, Professor Simon Horobin. Pupils then had a chance to view first editions of the Chronicles of Narnia in the Old Library, to meet student ambassadors, and to explore the College.
Prior to their visit, pupils were given copies of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by Professor Horobin and College Librarian Daryl Green.
When the group returned to Magdalen in March, they began work on a project entitled ‘What is University?’ led by Michelle Johnson, Headteacher of the Virtual School.
Michelle said, “The ‘What is University?’ project aims to create a publication co-produced by the 22 programme participants, that will be shared with Oxfordshire Primary Schools.
“The publication will feature questions that our children have researched whilst visiting Magdalen. Part of the research involved holding interviews with students and professors, exploring photographic documentation, and having in-depth discussions with the outreach team.
“We are very grateful to Magdalen for helping towards our strategic vision to raise future outcomes for care experienced children, in line with all other children.”
We look forward to welcoming pupils back to Magdalen once College reopens.