The newly created post will encourage and support bright state school students in their applications to competitive universities like Oxford. Pembroke is also expanding its successful aspiration-raising programme with BSix College in Hackney to the North West.
The creation of the post will see Dr Peter Claus, Senior Research Fellow in History, oversee and teach a year-long academic programme with high-achieving sixth formers from Hackney schools and colleges. He will also oversee a similar programme at a number of schools and colleges in the north west of England with the Etihad stadium, home of Manchester City Football Club, as the venue for seminars.
The new north west collaboration with South Cheshire College acting as a hub college, will be launched on 24 September. South Cheshire College, like BSix in Hackney, will be host to a 'tutorial room,' a book-lined study in the style of an academic office in Oxford, as a venue for sustained academic work to be undertaken as part of the collaboration.
Most Oxford colleges employ dedicated outreach officers who undertake outreach and widening access activities on behalf of the college, complementing the work of Oxford’s central teams. Academics from many colleges and subjects undertake outreach activities as part of their admissions work as well – but this is thought to be the first full-time access post for an academic in Oxford.
The appointment of an Access Fellow is the first phase of a ten-year strategy for Pembroke's targeted widening access activities. Dr Claus will be responsible for implementing a strategy for these activities.
Dr Claus says, 'I am delighted to take up this unique position as Access Fellow, a role which acknowledges the importance of delivering high-quality and sustained academic work with students as part of the widening access process. Pembroke College has made clear its significant investment in and commitment to outreach work by appointing an academic to this full-time post. I look forward to encouraging students who may benefit from the academic interventions that we offer, who would like to take a step beyond school-based learning and who relish the unfamiliar and want to take a trip beyond their comfort zone.
'With these new developments, our aim is for students to feel better prepared to make an application to Pembroke, to Oxford or to other competitive universities. We hope that after working with an Access Fellow over a full academic year, pupils will have experience of undergraduate teaching and some knowledge about the Oxford admissions process and so will be able to look beyond the myths and feel confident about applying to Oxford.'
Pembroke has worked closely in recent years with Brooke House (BSix) Sixth Form College in Hackney in its award-winning Raising Aspirations programme. This association has seen members across the college deliver a sustained course of academic studies for around 30 students in Year 12, including a residential summer School at Pembroke College which has been taught by academics, postgraduates and undergraduates.
As part of this programme, now to be extended to the North West, Dr Claus has been giving one-to-tutorials, seminars, study skills sessions, and guidance on the Oxford interview process, including mock interviews in a mock-up tutorial study in Hackney – and will do the same in the soon-to-be-opened tutorial room at South Cheshire.