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Access Work

Access Work

Since our foundation OxFizz has been committed to improving access to top universities for students from non-traditional university backgrounds by providing our high quality educational services free of charge and sharing our experience with our partner charities and organisations.

OxFizz's Access Work

We have always been committed to improving access to top universities for students from non-traditional university backgrounds but in 2011, inspired by a desire to increase the impact and effectiveness of our bursary work, we reviewed and redesigned our bursary programme. The outcome of this review was for OxFizz to work more closely with educational networks and charities because in our experience, our support is most beneficial to students who have access to the educational support and guidance which these organisations provide..

We are now committed to supporting educational organisations, including The Access Project, Villiers Park, The Sutton Trust, ARK Schools and Teach First.

We provide specialist advice and support to all these organisation to help to ensure their university support, particularly for students applying to top universities, is as beneficial as possible. We have worked with our partners to design bespoke programmes which are designed with their student cohorts in mind.

Through these programmes our volunteers deliver high quality educational support, which ranges from workshops and talks to seminars and practice interviews. Our programmes provide specialist guidance to students who would not otherwise has access to this type of support and preparation.

Below you can read about all our access partnerships and work in more detail:

OxFizz's partnership with The Access Project

Since 2012 OxFizz has worked in partnership with The Access Project to help support their students. OxFizz supports The Access Project in two main ways:

1. The Odysseus Project at King Solomon Academy

Since 2012 OxFizz has run The Odysseus Project in King Solomon Academy (KSA), Edgware Road. Over 40% of students attending KSA are eligible for free school meals and the school has no tradition of sending students to top universities. OxFizz enables this project through an annual donation of £30,000.

The Odysseus Project supports KSA students to reach their potential, both in terms of academic performance and university attendance, through a combination of weekly one-to-one tutorials, funding an in-school programme coordinator and sharing our expertise on the university application process with the school.

Last academic year The Odysseus Project enabled 422 hours of one-to-one tuition for 49 KSA students; 92% of these students felt they learnt a lot during their tutorials and 7.4 out of 10 was the average score given by students when asked about the impact that their tutorials had on their achieved grade.

2. Support for all of The Access Project's Oxbridge and Medicine applicants

In addition to our work in King Solomon Academy, we also run a year-long programme of events for students from across The Access Project's schools who are applying to Oxford, Cambridge or to read Medicine.

Through a combination of talks, subject carousels, subject specific weekly newsletters, workshops and practice interviews we support students through the different stages of the applications process.

Our highly skilled volunteers provide our high quality services to students from across The Access Project, drawing on their training and work with other students over the years to ensure their advice and feedback is pertinent and constructive.

The feedback we received from Access Project students in 2015 was incredibly positive, with 100% of students saying they found the feedback they received useful and 100% of students being happy to recommend our support to a friend.

In addition to the support described above, we were also incredibly excited to welcome two students from King Solomon Academy to the Oxford & Cambridge Summer School free of charge in 2015. Shakeel and Jack joined us for two weeks last August and participated in an action-packed schedule of lessons, seminars, workshops, trips and activities alongside students from across the globe. At the end of the programme Shakeel and Jack made the following comments:

"The last two weeks have created some of the most memorable moments of my life which I will keep with me for the rest of my life and these memories will especially come to mind when applying for university. My arrival was a pleasant one and the staff were amazing, always being there when I needed them and organising fun, enjoyable activities for us to do in Oxford. Above all, it was the tutorials which really got me interested in my chosen subject: physics. Challenging, fascinating, and simply fabulous, they pushed me in ways to achieve beyond what I otherwise have in school. Our tutor, Fran, was an excellent teacher who made us think in ways which we never knew we could and gave us heaps of knowledge about physics." Shakeel, Physics Course

""I found that the Summer School was a perfect balance between learning and free time. The tutorials were engaging, yet challenging and I feel I learned a lot about what life at university is like and what calibre of work is expected of me. The trips were fun and informative, allowing me to spend time with my new friends whilst at the same time learning about new places and history. The people were an eclectic mix, and I learned a lot about different cultures and I was able to socialise with people with similar interests to mine. Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Oxford, and I would recommend the experience to everyone." Jack, History Course

OxFizz's partnership with Teach First

OxFizz also supports students from across the national network of Teach First Schools by providing Oxbridge preparation advice to those on their 'Futures Programme'.

We share our expertise and knowledge with students through in-person events, including talks and full-length practice interviews, as well as through a series of weekly newsletters which provide guidance and suggestions; each week students receive subject specific advice about things to read and look over, as well as being given more general pointers about how to prepare for aspects of the application process like writing a very academic personal statement and answering challenging questions.

When designing this newsletter series we drew upon our own experience and looked at the specific needs of Teach First students, many of whom are the only Oxbridge applicant in their school.

OxFizz's Work with The Sutton Trust Fullbright Comission

Every year OxFizz also supports a group of very high-performing students who have participated in The Sutton Trust Fullbright Commission. These students have attended the US-based summer programme run by The Sutton Trust Fullbright Comission but have decided to focus on obtaining a place at one of Britain's top universities, usually the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge. OxFizz supports these students by providing advice and guidance through interactive talks, as well as through a number of practice interviews.

One student, Isabella, who is now studying History at the University of Cambridge, made the following remarks about the support which she received from OxFizz:

"Thank you so much for both your kind words and for all of the support you've offered me! I honestly don't think I would have been able to find myself in such an esteemed position had it not been for the interview preparation you arranged for me. The mock interviews not only allowed me to familiarise myself with the process (which was pretty alien to me at the time), but also played a big role in boosting my confidence and the conviction I had in my answers. Moreover, everyone that I encountered from OxFizz was so kind and welcoming and it has truly been a pleasure to work with your organisation - I feel as though that might be something that isn't said enough! All in all, my offer represents a life-changing opportunity to me, and I cannot thank you and the rest of the team at OxFizz enough for helping me gain it! I hope to one day be able to volunteer for OxFizz and help others in the same way that you have helped me."

OxFizz's Work with ARK Schools

OxFizz provides specialised support to students from across the ARK School network. We invite students who are aspiring to study at top universities to attend several workshops and full-length practice interviews. During Year 12 we focus on developing students' general problem solving and lateral thinking skills, before focusing on more specific aspects of the application process, such as personal statement writing and interviews. In Year 13 students join us for full-length practice interviews with subject-specialist interviewers. One student who attended last year made the following comments about their practice interviews:

"Very insightful, learnt a lot of things to do and what not to do."

Having started work with ARK Schools last year, we are excited to be supporting a greater number of their students this coming year.

OxFizz's Work with Villiers Park

Since 2009 OxFizz have supported students from across Villiers Park who are aspiring to study at top universities. Each summer our team of Oxbridge graduates run a series of workshops for students from across a wide range of schools who are aspiring to study at super-selective universities. Students come together from a range of schools from across the South East of England. After the summer, those students who may be called to a university interview attend subject-specific practice interviews with OxFizz volunteers.

"Villiers Park Educational Trust is delighted to introduce OxFizz as an important partner within our Scholars Programme.We are working with 14-19 year old disadvantaged Gifted and Talented students in two pilot areas, Hastings & Bexhill and Swindon. Our aim is to enable Scholars to gain a place at a leading university or centre of excellence.Many of the Scholars come from a background with no experience of higher education and their schools tend not to have the specialised support needed to provide interview practice.OxFizz fulfil that role and our first cohort of potential Oxbridge Year 13 Scholars have greatly valued the subject-specific and general interviews followed by the all-important feedback sessions. The enthusiasm, commitment and skill of the OxFizz team is highly appreciated, many thanks."Richard Gould - Chief Executive, Villiers Park Educational Trust

OxFizz's Work with Individual Students and Schools

In addition to the access partnerships described above, we also provide our high-quality educational services free of charge to individual students who approach us and who meet our bursary criteria. Similarly, we provide occasional support to schools who do not have a tradition of sending students to top universities.

Last year 100% of students who were supported by us found the feedback they received helpful and they would also strongly recommend our support to a friend.

One student who we supported gave us the following feedback after he received an offer from Cambridge University to read Engineering:

"I found the structure of the OxFizz interview was quite similar to that of the questions which I received in the actual interview. I received constructive criticism which gave me a clear idea of what the interviewers expect, thus helping me enter the interview with a lot more confidence because of the preparation."

Another student provided us with the following feedback:

"The interviewer was brilliant, encouraging me to think different about how I talk about History. I thoroughly enjoyed the process and would recommend it to anyone. Thank you!"

In summary,our impact on access last year can be summed up in the following way:

* This amount does not include our £30,000 annual donation to The Access Project or the donations which we made on behalf of some of our volunteers to charities which work to improve access to top universities.