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.