students at the Iffley Road running track
Sir Roger Bannister Running Track.

The Oxford University Sport and Community Partnership

Creating opportunities for young people through sport

Background

Sport offers a powerful way to build bridges, create connections and inspire young people.

The University of Oxford and local business leaders are working together to create a new partnership that can deliver opportunities to young people across the County.

The University has a globally recognised reputation for sport, including the Bannister sub-4 minute mile, winning the FA Cup 150 years ago and educating over 50 Olympic gold medallists. We have a range of talented student athletes, keen to use sport as a means to have positive social impact.

Through a new partnership, the University aims will make its sports facilities more widely available for local community activities and deliver inspiring sports programmes to state schools across the County. We aim to create opportunities that focus on children with limited access to sports facilities or who might not otherwise have the opportunity to interact with the University.

We see sport as one way in which we can create a more integrated County, build bridges between the University and the wider community and inspire young people to be interested in higher education.

Current activities

Schools’ programme

In Autumn 2023, the University piloted the Sport Leaders Programme for 30 Year-8s (aged 12-13) from Greyfriars Secondary School, located in East Oxford, to come and spend a day per week at the University. In the mornings, they received elite sports coaching from Blues athletes in areas such as basketball, football, athletics and rowing. They had lunch in a college. Then spent afternoons hearing from inspiring academics about research linked to sport – mathematical modelling for football, law and rules in sport, the anthropology of crowd behaviour, neuroscience and brain injury, for example. The impact evaluation showed extremely positive outcomes. The programme will be expanded to reach children from three secondary schools in East Oxford (Oxford Spires, The Oxford Academy, and Greyfriars) in May and June 2024.

Opening and sharing facilities

We are working to more systematically open-up University and college sports facilities to schools and community organisations. The University has hosted a series of community football tournaments. Several colleges routinely open their sports facilities. We have surveyed colleges on their willingness to participate in an organised matching scheme to open up facilities with undergraduate sports’ mentoring of children and received a positive response from the colleges. We exploring ways to better match demand and supply.

Community events

On May 6 2024, the University hosted  Bannister Miles to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Sir Roger Bannister sub-4 minute mile world record. The event included track miles from schools right up to elite level, as well as a mass participation mile with over 1000 participants, which took place on the High Street and finished at the Iffley Road track. Bannister Miles will be an annual community event, celebrating athletics, encouraging participation in physical activity among young people and signposting ongoing sporting opportunity for them. In April 2024, Oxford also hosted its inaugural Powerhouse Games, bringing together children from local secondary schools, including special needs schools to compete in teams in a range of inclusive sports.

students playing sport in a hallThe inaugural Powerhouse Games at the Iffley Road Sports Centre.

Objectives

We believe sport can play a transformative role within the community, and we have a number of objectives:

Partnership – convening the University, businesses, schools and local organisations to work together for a more inclusive and physically active Oxfordshire.

Continuity – delivering a sport-based community engagement programme that will endure and grow.

Social change – supporting social mobility, personal resilience and young people’s educational and professional aspirations.

Connection – building bridges across people from different age groups and backgrounds.

Opportunities for schools – including both most advantaged and disadvantaged schools in Oxford, and making it easier for schools to create more opportunities for community-building physical activities.

What we hope to achieve

By working collaboratively with local partners, including businesses, schools and sports clubs, we hope to gradually build upon our existing sport and community programme, and have even greater impact.

The programme will aim to grow and scale up its activities from 2025, and will have several Key Performance Indicators:

  • Deliver schools programmes at the University, enabling children to spend a day/week at the University for a 4-week period to 100 secondary school children per year.
  • Offer sports-related after-school clubs in the community across 8-week periods, to at least 1000 primary and secondary school children per year across at least 12 different schools.
  • Make University and College sports facilities available to local community sports clubs and schools for at least 200 hours per year.
  • Undertake an impact evaluation of the programme as part of a longitudinal study which can link outcomes to positive social impact, and inform public policy.