Hilary Term 2015 Training Update (and other things!)

We are delighted to announce that next term’s training session will be held on Wednesday 18 February, from 4.30-6.30pm, kindly hosted once again by my fabulous co-coordinator Foteini Dimirouli at Somerville College. Save the date! Booking will open in the New Year.

The programme will include an introduction to the UK education sector and Oxford undergraduate admissions (for our beginners) and for our improvers,  a research-informed look at what motivates students to make their Higher Education decisions.

As I introduced our Office for Fair Access agreement at this term’s training session, we discussed the impact of fee waivers or bursaries vs. outreach activity and we look forward to exploring next term the most effective ways to break down barriers for underrepresented groups to enter Higher Education. We will be joined by an expert in the field, the Head of Widening Participation at KCL, Anne-Marie Canning, who will lead us through this important set of issues and some recent published research on these questions.

We will also hear from the Brilliant Club on their programme of working with researchers and schools.

In terms of other things going on in 8th week, I will be at the TORCH Humanities Postdoc Lunch from 1-2pm on Tuesday 2 December (at the Humanities Division Building on Woodstock Road) chatting about the network, so do come along and share your experiences and help to spread the word about the value of public engagement and schools outreach 🙂

Finally, good luck to all network members involved in undergraduate admissions interviewing in the next few weeks. For anyone balancing academic, administrative and admissions commitments (myself included!), it has certainly been a hectic time. My personal highlight was getting to train some of our thoughtful and wonderfully engaged new admissions interviewers with the Oxford Learning Institute last week.

Keep in touch as always; I need guest bloggers to post about their outreach experience, so if you have an event coming up that you would like to blog about, please contact me:


Eleanor (Network Co-Coordinator)


“Investigating Options”; or, a demonstration of the relevance of all disciplines

Guest Blogger: Network Member Danielle Yardy (Keble College)

On 4 November, Year 11 pupils from around the country came to Oxford as part of the Pathways Programme. The day involved talks, tours, and take-home pamphlets. At Keble, 95 students and their teachers gathered to take taster sessions in the humanities, and the physical, life, and social sciences. D.Phil.s in English, Statistics, Ecology, and International Relations took to the floor to show what their subjects had to offer.

In honour of Halloween—and to put forward the case for both English and History—my talk investigated Elizabeth Sawyer, historical ‘witch’ and protagonist of the 1621 tragicomedy The Witch of Edmonton. I asked students to reflect on the nuance that literary analysis can bring to historical study, and how it opens up the subtleties of a past we might want to homogenize.

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Statistician and schools liaison officer Mareli Augustyn discussed chance and randomness. She warning against the lottery, and showed how it really is quite likely that an iPod set to shuffle will play songs by the same artist back-to-back. Harriet Downey then wooed pupils to Ecology with her research into tropical rainforests before James Shires discussed issues of ‘security’. International politics is performative, he argued, and school lunches could easily be ‘a security issue’, if only someone instated the sandwich police to prevent the rioting of hungry pupils.

As a presenter, it was the Q&A that proved most rewarding by offering a great insight into what the next generation is looking for in a degree. One topic dominated discussion, posed by both pupils and their teachers: relevance. What exactly are you going to do with that degree? What comes next? [The theatre scholar in me wishes to note: it started to rain.]

Sitting in the humanities corner, I was a little nervous—but, as it turned out, without cause. We discussed the broad career options for the different degrees as well as the relationships between disciplines. Presenters had come from different undergraduate courses and institutions, with time out of education and a variety of career experiences, demonstrating that all degrees open doors. Uniformly, the panel presented a successful degree as one undertaken with genuine interest.

Verdict: if you’re having a crisis of relevance, try telling Y11s why your subject is great (rather than your parents).

Book now for our training event on 13 November

Hello and welcome to our brand new blog!

The Oxford Early Career Academic Outreach Network aims to connect early career academics (D.Phil. students, postdocs or fixed-term lecturers) at the University of Oxford with opportunities to do outreach in Oxford and further afield, as well as to provide them with appropriate training opportunities and recognition for their work at an institutional level. The network is intended to complement current training provision elsewhere within the collegiate University.

We’re delighted to announce that the first training session of the academic year will take place on Thursday 13th November.

Kindly hosted by Somerville College, the event, which will take place from 16.30 – 18.30, will cover

  • An Introduction to Oxford outreach with schools (for beginners or those relatively new to outreach)
  • Age-appropriate academic taster sessions: best practice sharing (for those with some experience of outreach)
  • UNIQ Summer Schools: How to get involved with the University’s flagship residential summer school access programme, including sample taster content used by early career academics in the project
  • Out on the road for Oxford outreach: getting involved with the Student and Teachers’ Conferences

Following the success of previous sessions, we have once again arranged for post-training networking drinks from 18.30 at the Royal Oak.

Sign up to the training event now at http://bit.ly/1FVHNZr and if you haven’t already done so, feel free to add yourself to our database, which provides advance notice of future training events and outreach opportunities: http://bit.ly/ZCGU6x

We hope to see you at an event before too long! Do get in touch if you have any questions.

Dr Eleanor David and Dr Foteini Dimirouli