Mr Benjamin Addo, Brentside High School
It gives me great pride to be a part of the Inspire Programme especially because of the main ethos of the programme, to support students of a diverse background in achieving and making excellent academic progress onto a Russell Group University like Oxford or Cambridge. I am a Civil Engineer turned Physics and Science teacher and it is very fulfilling working in a state comprehensive school like Brentside and even more so supporting the 14 students selected for the three-year Inspire Programme.
Inspire students have developed a wide range of skills and knowledge through the programme, ranging from analytical skills, social skills, exposure to a variety of excellent learning workshops and sessions, and the development of their mindset and aspiration to work towards a programme in a top university. Some of the students have gone on to participate and win competitions associated with the Inspire programme sessions and workshops and we are very proud of their achievements.
Mrs Meera Agarwal, Avanti House Secondary School
The reason I wanted to be a part of the Inspire Programme was the same reason I chose to teach at Avanti House Secondary School. Avanti exists to help each person become a well-rounded human being through intellectual, personal and spiritual growth, and so make the world a better place. In the same way, the Inspire Programme is a super-curricular activity which offers students an incredible opportunity to widen their horizons and expand the way they think.
The students have enjoyed exploring topics which they would otherwise have never studied – from looking at the Maths in football to the evolution of language, they’ve seen inter-disciplinary links, augmenting their study of these subjects. The opportunity to visit and stay at Oxford University as part of this programme has continued to be a factor which excites students. The group have bonded well together, and the club has allowed them a space in which to express their intellectual curiosity beyond the curriculum.
Ms Rebecca Farrow, Cardinal Wiseman
My name is Rebecca Farrow, and I am the lead teacher for Inspire at Cardinal Wiseman Catholic High School. I have been involved in the programme for the last two years and am pleased to say it has become a great success within school and especially with the students involved. The students really enjoy the fortnightly sessions and were especially keen to get back following lockdown, many asking me when they would start again. Although some got to experience a day out at the Science Museum before the first lockdown hit, something they really enjoyed, many of the students are looking forward to these experiences when things change.
Highlights of the workshops have been the planet session where we lost ‘Neptune’ behind a board trying to space out the Solar System accurately. Also finding out if we had an amino acid to taste and like bitter foods and then making anyone who passed the classroom, test it too! Making the tea stand out of car, lolly sticks and string upon resuming sessions, was also a great success.
The students have gained so much from Inspire sessions; I look forward to seeing how far they will go.
Ms Phoebe Symonds, Dormers Wells High School
My name is Phoebe Symonds and I am a teacher at Dormers Wells High School in Southall. I have been part of the Inspire programme for the last two years and wanted to get involved to help broaden the horizons of the students in my school, taking their understanding beyond the traditional curriculum. The students have really enjoyed being part of the Inspire Programme. The Aspiration days in Year 9 were a huge success and all the students involved came back into school with stories about what they had seen and done, as well as the different students from other schools that they had met.
The in-school and online sessions have also given them a much broader understanding about the world around them and opened their eyes to potential paths they could go down at sixth form and university. The enthusiasm and engagement the students have shown has highlighted to me just how important programmes like this are for the students and I am sure they will continue to inspire as the students move into Year 11 and their final year.
Mr Jacob Chapman, Greenford High School
My name is Jacob Chapman, and I am the pre-GCSE Inspire Co-ordinator at an inner London school, Greenford High School in Ealing. When our new headteacher started in September 2019 she brought the idea of the Programme with her, and I have been involved ever since. I loved the idea of working with our young people in lots of different areas outside of the curriculum and have loved the challenge that it brings to the students. For many of our highest achieving students there are blinkers that limit their understanding of academic subjects to their school classes; most of our cohort will be the first in their family to go to university and it has been amazing watching them grapple with topics from volcanoes to rhythm and the origins of music as they start to understand the true breadth of knowledge that they might have access to in their futures.
Over the last two years they have developed as a group and built each other up, really loving the problem-solving that many of the after-school or lockdown sessions brought. We have had many successes but, aside from our student winning two of the competitions, my favourite moments were the engagement in the little things: interpreting a paragraph in Esperanto as a class or designing a cake stand holder using only lollipop sticks, paper, and scissors.
Due to the lockdown we were not able to engage with the summer school in person but we have managed to work within the school with the new post-16 destinations lead. The students have recently written personal statements in tandem with our Year 12 cohort and my Year 10s gave the older students a run for their money! I think and hope that the Programme has had a really positive impact on the young people and their possible future applications to Oxford.
Ms Davinder Kaur, Northolt High School
My name is Davinder Kaur and I am the Teacher Coordinator for the Inspire Programme at Northolt High School. I initially applied for this role because I was passionate about increasing opportunities in higher education for disadvantaged students who are intellectually bright. Coming from a disadvantaged background myself, I am too familiar of the struggles students from disadvantaged backgrounds face when accessing higher education.
Our school has been involved in the Inspire Programme for the past two years. Students have covered themes such as Philosophy, Music, DNA and Languages. Initially the programme was run in school via after-school workshops, however due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the workshops were delivered online. More recently, we have been able to resume the in-school workshops which has been exciting.
The students have thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Inspire Programme and have highlighted that it has had a direct impact on their learning in school. This is reflected by the multiple Inspire competition winners Northolt High School has had over the course of the two years. The students received prizes from St John’s College in the form of Amazon vouchers, which were a great motivator for them to do well.