Successful first year of Christ Church Horizons access programme

An Astrophysics workshopLast February we launched Christ Church Horizons, our first access and outreach sustained contact programme, and we’re thrilled to be seeing the successful results of the initiative’s first year.

Through the Horizons programme, we aim to broaden pupils’ academic experience, to enable them to explore beyond the school curriculum, and to support them in developing the skills they will be needing both to make strong university applications, and later, at university. We want to encourage pupils to have the confidence to aim high, and hope to dispel myths about higher education and Oxford.

Last year 35 Year 12 pupils from target state schools and colleges in Barnet took part in Horizons, consisting of six sessions made up of academic workshops plus study skills and information sessions in Barnet, followed by a ‘graduation day’ at Christ Church. The programme is run by our Schools Liaison Officer, Dr Ana Hastoy.

We are delighted to have had both a record number of Oxford applications and a record number of offers for pupils from our Barnet link schools in this UCAS cycle. Of the Horizons pupils, 25 made applications to Oxford or Cambridge, and we’re very pleased that this resulted in 10 receiving offers. We are particularly pleased that, provided they met and accept their offers, we will have three first-year students from our Barnet link schools at Christ Church in 2019.

An Oriental Studies workshopAs well as aiming to encourage applications to top universities, the Horizons programme is also intended to help to improve pupils’ perceptions both of university, and of their own abilities. Before taking part in the programme 42% of the pupils felt that they would fit in at Oxford, but this rose to over 80% by the end of Horizons. Similarly, at the start only 38% of the pupils thought that they could make a competitive application to Oxford, but this rose to 81% after taking part in the programme.

By the end of the programme all of the pupils felt that they knew how to develop their understanding of subjects outside of school, and 100% of the pupils also felt that they would fit in at university, showing significant development both in the pupils’ confidence in their own abilities and their ability to succeed at university, and in their views of Oxford being a university that they feel is for them.

One of the pupils on the programme said, ‘I believe these sessions are a really good idea as it gives a chance to those who have limited knowledge about universities to really understand the process’. Another commented, ‘before I came on the programme I thought that Oxford was way out of my reach, but the programme made me rethink. Now I am seriously considering to apply to Oxford University’.

Dr Hastoy said, ‘Christ Church Horizons has been an extremely rewarding experience. We have loved getting to know the pupils and seeing them grow in confidence as they learn about university and explore new academic topics. We are delighted that ten of our Horizons 2018 participants have received offers to study at Oxford and Cambridge and we look forward to the expansion of the programme!’

A Neuroscience taster lectureThere are exciting plans for future development of the Horizons programme, as Dr Hastoy explains: ‘With the important increase in the number of Oxford applications from Barnet state schools, we need our Christ Church Horizons programme to expand to support more pupils and help convert more applications into offers. We plan to double our Year 12 programme in 2020, to include two separate strands: one for humanities and one for sciences. We also hope to expand Christ Church Horizons to more schools and other year groups: to Year 10 pupils in 2019 with the aim of raising aspirations earlier on, and to Year 13s in the next academic year, when we will be offering more specific guidance about the application process’.

Read the Horizons programme report in full here