24 May 2018

Inspired by the Spires of Oxford

21st May saw 43 pupils and 4 staff set off bright and early (ok, maybe not so bright!) for a visit to Pembroke college which was designed to inspire students to aim high and dream of one day studying amongst the Oxford spires themselves.  Many of the party had been part of the ROAR group, whilst others had heard of the trip and wanted to find out what life at an Oxford college would be like. 

Upon arrival the group were greeted by Kirsty, whom they had already met when she came to school to deliver her excellent ‘Oxford Explained’ presentation which gave pupils a glimpse of what they might expect to see at a university college in Oxford.  Kirsty’s programme for the day was perfect, beginning with a college tour by students who had kindly given up some time in the week of their finals. Liam said he found the architecture fascinating and commented on the peacefulness of the surroundings.  Vick (one of our student guides) explained how there was enough accommodation at Pembroke for college students to ‘live in’ for their three years at college and that there were various types of rooms available – something for everyone’s budget.  The system at Oxford is not like the one often seen on American films whereby students share rooms.  At Pembroke every student has their own bedroom, but other facilities may be shared depending on the type of room chosen.  Vicky dispelled one common myth: contrary to what is commonly believed, students studying at Oxford often pay less for accommodation than their peers at other universities because they only have to pay for term time accommodation (6 months of the year).  At other universities, often a whole year’s rent is needed.  The group explored the different quads of the college before heading off for their first ever lecture in the Pichette Auditorium. 

Mr Jones had hoped for a lecture on biology, but it was not to be.  Instead, the treat in store for the group was a lecture on English Literature and even better, Dr Desgupta was an expert on Charles Dickens.  A – maz-ing!  Dr Desgupta wanted her students to join in which many students did, all sounding wise beyond their years.  Matthew felt that the lecture was an excellent lesson in how we judge people by first appearances.

After discussing the depiction of character in various Victorian novels and essays, it was time for a delicious lunch before the second tour with Dr Hastoy from Christ Church College.  Visiting two colleges, meant that it was easy to see how each Oxford college has a very different look and feel.  The look at Christ Church was somewhat familiar and the Harry Potter fans in the party were quick to recognise a staircase and the main dining room, both of which had featured in the Harry Potter films.  Chloe was extremely excited to climb the staircase and has a photo to prove that she has been there.  Despite having just stepped off a bustling Oxford high street, Christ Church College had a feeling of space and calm.  The group was guided through gardens, enjoyed a view of the meadows beyond and some of them got to see Lewis Carroll’s alleged inspiration for the jabberwocky tree which was in a private garden behind locked gates.  (Mrs Payne apologises for being too security conscious and locking the gate behind her as she left, thereby preventing the other groups from the sight of this phenomenal tree – see picture attached to the article.)

The final destination of the day was the Pitt Rivers Museum – three floors of ethnographic and archaeological objects were on display including a magnificent Tahitian mourner's costume, collected during Captain Cook's Second Voyage in 1773-74 and jewellery and sculpture from all over the world in wood, pottery, metal and stone. ‘The weapons were cool,’ said Keira showing a hitherto unseen violent streak.  All too soon, it was time to go home, where hopefully those of the group dreaming of Oxford will start the work needed to make those dreams of Oxford spires come true.