Schools working with Universities

A number of primary schools in Tower Hamlets have developed good partnership links with Oxbridge. The current partnership work is strongest with Clare College, Cambridge and Wadham College, Oxford. The main aim of the partnership work is

  • for students from Oxbridge to interact with pupils in a contextualised learning situation and effectively work as teachers’ aides to support an aspect of the planned curriculum work, and;
  • to introduce young pupils, of primary age, to a better and realistic understanding of the university so that one day they themselves would attend one.

A Year 6 pupil receiving an award from Dr Toby Wilkinson and Dr Jocelyn Wyburd of Cambridge UniversityAccess Officers (outreach) from Clare College and Wadham College are primarily responsible for operating the partnership programme with schools in Tower Hamlets. The Access Officers work in cooperation with the college Chaplain (known in Clare as the Dean) who offer support, encouragement and guidance.

The headteachers and relevant members of the school leadership team, as well as the classteachers are responsible for the partnership at the school level. Below are examples of how the partnership is planned in two of the schools involved in the partnership. These are just prototypes and not exemplars!

Hermitage Primary School

Hermitage Primary School in Wapping is linked with Wadham College, Oxford. Initially the project involved fortnightly visits by undergraduates to Hermitage to support pupils learning. Pupils from Hermitage visited Wadham and learnt about university life from the students. Pupils get a better understanding of university life and the undergraduates have the opportunity to working in a real multi-cultural setting.

The Dean of Clare College talking to pupils from Bigland GreenBigland Green Primary School

Bigland Green Primary School in Shadwell is linked with Clare College, Cambridge. Year 5 pupils visit the College in the summer term, meet the students and learn about university life. During the course of the next academic year (when pupils are in Year 6), undergraduates from Clare visit Bigland every half term. During the visit the pupils prepare a presentation, based around the topic being studied for the visitors. The students also do a presentation that supports the project work.  Bigland Green organises a yearly staff and governors inset that takes place at Clare.

The Partnership

Both projects were brokered and initiated by Professor John Hirsh from Georgetown University, USA. Professor Hirsh has been a Visiting Fellow at both Oxford and Cambride and assisted in the establishment of these programmes. He visits both schools at least twice each year and chairs the ‘Schools and Universities Working Group’ which comprises Access Officers, staff members from participating schools and officers from the Local Authority. A copy of the Schools and Working University report (PDF, 83KB) is available to download.

You can also download a copy of the minutes from the last working group meeting (PDF, 16kb).

A key issue for the partnership is the involvement of students in Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9). There are examples of effective partnership with Oxbridge from Year 11 onwards. Primary and secondary schools are looking at how to address this issue. A number of pilot initiatives have been put in place during the academic year 2012-13.

Contact Us

Schools in Tower Hamlets who are interested in developing links with Oxbridge can contact one of the Access Officers below. Schools can also visit the Clare College website for more information.

Ms Ellen Maunder
Outreach Officer
Wadham College, Oxford

Ms Ruth Dewhurst
Access Officer
Clare College, Cambridge
Email: or