More local school children join sport and education sessions at Oxford as expanded community programme returns

Pupils from three local schools have enjoyed a morning of basketball with the Oxford Blues team on day one of the second Oxford Sport Leaders Programme, which has been expanded to welcome more young students from the community into the University.

Following the session of basketball on Thursday 9 May, the pupils then had lunch at Trinity College and spent an afternoon in an education workshop titled The Power of Music in Sport with Dr Corey Crossman.  

The Programme returns after a successful pilot in 2023, and the University is now working with additional schools in the Oxford City area.

Image: Andy Bailey

School pupils enjoyed an afternoon workshop titled The Power of Music in Sport. 

Set up to explore ways in which sport, education and career development can combine to create opportunities for young people in the city, the first programme saw 30 Year-8 pupils from Greyfriars School spend one day a week over six weeks at the University, taking part in a range of interactive sport and educational workshops.

This next iteration is welcoming students in Year-8 from Greyfriars School, Oxford Spires and The Oxford Academy; 12 from each school coming together for a similar format over four weeks with more than 30 University students involved throughout the Programme as well.

The Programme will run every Thursday until June 6 with further sports sessions including rowing with the Oxford Blues squad, athletics with the Oxford University Athletics Club and Flag Football with the Oxford American Football Team the Lancers.

Falcon Boat Club, Magdalen College, and Christ Church College will also host the students for lunch, followed by more workshops including The Science behind Teamwork with Dr Arran Davis, Football on the Brain with the Integrative Neuroimaging Unit at the John Radcliffe, and Maths vs Sport with Dr Rod Eastaway.

Bannister Mile attempt

The final morning is set to be a special athletics session, with a joint relay attempt at the Bannister Mile where the three schools will be in teams together with University students.

When asked on day one what they were most excited about, Liam from The Oxford Academy replied: ‘everything, especially rowing and basketball skills’ while Tom said: ‘athletics’. Both young students listed ‘maths and psychology’ as education workshops they were looking forward to.

We are delighted to be working with three terrific local schools, and hope that participating pupils will enjoy trying new sports, discovering some of the exciting things happening at the University, and developing future career aspirations

Professor Alexander Betts

Ashley from Greyfriars School added: ‘I’m really excited about going to see the colleges in Oxford.’

Students from Oxford Spires said learning all about sports, as well as ‘visiting the University and seeing what it’s like’ and ‘American football and learning all about brains’ were among their highlights in the Programme.

Oxford Sport Leaders Programme is being coordinated at Oxford by Oliver Cook, who is a former Olympian, Oxford student and is currently a programme manager with the Oxford SDG Impact Lab. Oliver said: ‘It is such a privilege to be able to bring this programme to life.

‘The first one we ran before Christmas was so much fun. Bringing the University community together and witnessing everyone contribute to delivering a world class programme for school students living in Oxford was hugely inspiring. We’re now testing the programme with three schools simultaneously and hopefully not even making it bigger but more engaging and exciting too.’

The Programme is part of the University’s commitment to make its sports facilities more widely available for local community activities and deliver inspiring sports programmes to state schools across the county.

Professor Alexander Betts, the University’s Local and Global Engagement Officer, and Chair of the University’s Sport Strategy Committee, said: ‘Sport offers a powerful way to build bridges, create connections, and inspire young people. We are delighted to be working with three terrific local schools, and hope that participating pupils will enjoy trying new sports, discovering some of the exciting things happening at the University, and developing future career aspirations.’

The Programme is being delivered through the Oxford SDG Impact Lab. Objectives include educational inspiration, learning new skills, physical activity, and the development of future career interests to hopefully provide a transformational experience for the school pupils.

The Oxford SDG Impact Lab was set up in 2021 and is based in the Oxford Department of International Development. It works across the University and aims to support students to collaborate with external partners to deliver the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), locally, nationally, and globally.

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