Why not aspire to the Dreaming Spires?

'Descendants' Local Youth Group Visits Oxford University

Related Links

Descendants enjoying their trip to Oxford

Taking in the sites

Professor Gus John returns to Acton to help raise achievement

On Friday 25th June 2004, Descendants’ youth group set out from Priory Community Centre at 9.30 a.m to spend a day at Oxford University.

The group consisted of 17 young people age 12-17, 4 boys and 13 girls. They all live in the Borough of Ealing, the majority attend schools across the borough, two are educated at home and one attends college, three attend schools outside the Borough. The young people were of differing ability. None had ever visited Oxford University.

Prior to the visit, Evan, one of our volunteers, organised for David Gustave a young black man to give a talk to the young people of Descendants, about his experience of education, his journey from primary school to going on to Oxford University; gaining a first class honours degree in history, and now training to become a barrister. This talk was very inspiring, it provoked a lively discussion, and all the young people and adults who attended gave very positive feed back, indeed, one of the young people told her parents that ‘the talk was the best thing she had ever experienced at Descendants’. The visit was supported by Excellence in cities post 16 advisor, Jan Parnell.

We arrived at Oxford University, Wadham College and we were met by one of the scheme co-ordinator David Johnston, the day was structured, and began with introductions. David began the first session by asking how many of the young people wanted to go to university, about six of them put their hands up, and this was followed by a question and answer session.

The questions provoked a great deal of thought from the young people they were enthusiastic, giving plenty of answers to the questions. By the end of this session, the young people were asked again how many of them wanted to go to university, on this occasions almost all of the young people put up their hands.

In the afternoon, the young people were split into two groups, to simulate a court case, one team was the defence and one was the prosecution. This was very entertaining as the young people showed off their thinking skills, and displayed some very good acting, which had the whole group laughing. And at the same time they entertained the judges, which consisted of Margaret, Evan and another Oxford Graduate.

Following the court scene the young people remained in their two groups and went on a scavenger hunt, current Oxford graduates accompanied each group. The young people were given list of things and object that they needed to photograph, they went all around Oxford, taking pictures at the same time seeing the University, and learning about the University. The visit to the access unit concluded with a farewell talk, each young person was given a brochure about Oxford University.

Finally, Evan arranged for the group to visit ‘Queens’, the college he studied at. We met his tutor who was also an admission officer, he gave a talk to the young people about the requirements of the university, and what they can expect if they decided to apply. The visit finally came to an end, and the young people had to fill out a questionnaire about the visit, the feedback was extremely positive.

As we travelled back on the coach, there was a lively discussion between Evan, Gustave and the young people about the visit, there were still plenty of questions, the young people were so inspired that they decided that they wanted to go back to Descendants and tell the younger members about the visit. (Friday is our normal meeting day). The young people gave their talk to the young members, there were plenty of questions and the end result was that many of the younger members asked if they could go when we arrange the next visit.

Two weeks after that visit, David Johnston, the Oxford Access Scheme Co-ordinator contacted Descendants and offered two places for year 13 students to attend a weeklong Personal development summer school. Monique and Alex were selected, being the only year 13 students. The course runs from Sunday 1st August - Friday 6th August 2004.

This caps an amazing month for Descendants as four of the group met the Prime minister Rt. Hon.Tony Blair. On Wednesday 7th July four members of descendants were invited to meet the prime minister Rt. Hon. Tony Blair when he launched his new vision for education. The young people went with Ealing councillor Karen Hunte. The young people were shown on Channel 4 news shaking his hands.

Margaret Noel

July 21, 2004