Creating an Inspire Club Class for the Inspire Scholars Programme

What is the Inspire Programme?

The St John’s Inspire Programme is an outreach and widening participation programme run by St John’s College, University of Oxford. We want to encourage pupils from non-selective state schools with exceptional promise to aim high, to stretch themselves academically and eventually to feel confident making well-founded applications to a top university. There are four current major strands of the Inspire Programme: Inspire 12 & 13, the Inspire Scholars Programme for Years 9, 10 & 11, Inspire Critical Thinking, and Inspire Primary.

The Inspire Scholars Programme for Years 9, 10 & 11 is run in 32 non-selective state schools from the St John’s College link regions (East Sussex, West Sussex, Southampton, Brighton & Hove, Ealing, and Harrow). Each school selects around 14 students in Year 9 (aged 13-14) to join the programme. These students are high-achieving and at least one third of them are Pupil Premium, in receipt of Free School Meals, or Looked After, or have a home postcode in the bottom 4 IDACI deciles (a measure of geographical disadvantage). The students remain on the programme for 3 years, until they sit their GCSEs.

Paid opportunities – Inspire Club Classes

Inspire Scholars attend a fortnightly Inspire Club Class at their school. The Inspire Club Classes are super-curricular academic sessions which introduce pupils to new concepts and subjects that they may not otherwise engage with at school. Each Inspire Club Class is formed of two workshops of around 60 minutes in length. These do not have to directly relate to one another, but we have found that our most successfully developed classes build on knowledge or skills between the two workshops. Inspire Club Classes are usually delivered by a school’s Inspire Teacher Lead (the representative from the school that runs the programme), who may not be a specialist in the Inspire Club Class subject.

We aim to deliver an approximately equal balance of both STEMM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine) and Arts & Humanities Inspire Club Classes.

Based on our experiences and feedback from Inspire Teacher Leads, we have developed a list of criteria for new Inspire Club Classes. These criteria ensure that an Inspire Club Class is engaging for pupils, suitable for delivery by a teacher coordinator without specialist subject knowledge, and is appropriate to include as a resource in the Inspire Scholars Programme.


Paid opportunities – Inspire Critical Thinking

The Inspire team will be developing a new edition of the college’s popular Inspire Critical Thinking Programme for Years 9, 10 & 11, which will be run in 2024-25 via Inspire Digital, for students from non-selective state schools across the UK. The virtual programme centres on a particular question each year and consists of 4 workshops. Each workshop explores the question from a wide range of different subjects, each addressing the overarching topic in some way, alongside a variety of articles, competitions, and further resources. They also focus on a particular critical thinking skill catered to Year 9, Year 10 and Year 11 students. Competitions are also a popular feature and we enjoy receiving students’ entries and showcasing these in subsequent workshops.

  • A 600-800 word article (though the length is not set in stone) for an audience of 13-16 year olds. The article should be non-specialist enough to be accessible to students of this age group.
  • Relevant further reading and resources, related videos and/or other online content which may be more advanced so that interested students can pursue the topic further.
  • A prompt, question or task based on the content of the article, which students should be able to complete in under 1-2 hours. This may take the form of a writing prompt, video essay, maths question, creative task, or experiment that students will be able to complete with household materials

For examples of previous articles, visit our Inspire Critical Thinking page.

If you’re interested in discussing either of these opportunities informally, please email Katie at