Before term started, I took part in a program called Experience East Ham, newly set up by our Chaplain Julia and Revd Sue Lucas, the Rector of St. Bartholomew’s Church in East Ham, London (http://easthamparish.org.uk/archive/churches/barts.html). The parish is one of our College Livings, which meant in centuries past that Brasenose would supply one of its theology graduates or fellows to fulfil the position of priest at the parish church. Experience East Ham was set up to reimagine and continue the historic link, enabling a Brasenose student to stay there for a few days and experience life in an inner-city parish, getting involved with the community. I thought I could go and talk to some of the local secondary school students about applying to Oxford, and spent some time in Newham Collegiate Sixth Form Centre, a newly formed academic college that draws the brightest students from across the borough. In the morning I sat in on some of their lessons to get the feel of the school and meet some of the students and talk to them about their ambitions for university. Some of the teachers were recent Oxbridge graduates themselves and it was so inspiring to see them working with the students to support them in the beginnings of their academic experiences.
Towards the end of the day, I spoke with their head of Oxbridge applications, Kateryna Law, and learnt that- despite the inspired conversations I had overheard amongst students during the morning- Oxbridge application rates could be much higher given the calibre of many of the students (although a good group of applicants do get in every year, and Wadham College run a special outreach programme in the area called Wad-HAM!). Knowing that apprehension upon applying is something many students feel, I learnt in addition that NCS students face a whole host of additional challenges. East Ham is a very diverse area, with students from a variety of religious and cultural backgrounds. What many share, however, is a close-knit, supportive, often extended family network in the local area. This can be a difficult family unit to leave behind, and students facing the new challenges involved in applying to university might well feel additionally alienated due to the contrast between their home lives and some aspects of living in Oxford, making the transition to college life much more difficult.
Hopefully Oxford can continue to work to disassociate old Oxford stereotypes from the modern university experience, to help ensure that students such as those in East Ham aren’t put off by those stereotypes and support those who might feel intimidated by the unique environment of the university.
A note about Experience East Ham
“Experience East Ham” is open to all current students at Brasenose and might entail but not exclusively include the opportunity for:
- Conduct of a mini research project into local health, education, housing, population, religious (including interfaith or ecumenical relationships) or social care provision.
- Work experience/internship of primary or secondary school setting
- Work experience/ internship of ordained or lay ministry within the Church of England, working alongside its partners from other faiths and community organisations
- Opportunity to explore the impact of music in the community
It is envisaged that “Experience East Ham” will take place in September of each year unless by mutual agreement with the incumbent this is scheduled for another time of year. If you would like to apply for Autumn 2019 please email the Chaplain by 1st May 2019: [email protected]
by Katherine Furness-Reed (Second Year Classics student)