Students and teachers from Colfe’s School and the Leathersellers’ Federation of Schools made an exciting journey to St Catherine’s College Oxford for the inaugural Leathersellers’ Day. St Catherine’s College and the Company have a long and rich history: for many years there have been four Leathersellers’ postgraduate scholars and one fellow at the College who benefit from Leathersellers support. The aim of this day was to inspire pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds who have outstanding academic potential to apply to highly selective universities like Oxford.
Ten Leathersellers’ Scholars (year 12) from Colfe’s School and 36 pupils from the Leathersellers’ Federation Schools (year 10 and 12) were in attendance on the day, in addition to teachers from all the schools. In the morning everyone had an opportunity to tour St Catherine’s College with current undergraduate students. They also heard about how to choose a course to study at University and what life is like at St Catherine’s and Oxford, from current and former Oxford undergraduates. A dynamic Q&A session followed and our own Andy Rothery (St Catherine’s alumnus) gave an inspirational account of his somewhat unusual path to Oxford. After lunch in the dining hall, the students were divided up into small groups for thought-provoking ‘academic taster sessions’, designed based upon the students’ stated academic preferences. Sessions included topics in clinical neuroscience, immunology, materials science, physics and politics and ranged from interactive discussions about authoritarian governments, to understanding the physics behind touch screens, to lively battles between pathogens and the immune system.
It was a highly enjoyable and successful event and we look forward to similar events in the future. In the words of David Sheppard, Executive Headteacher, Federation Schools: “It was clear to me that the young people, who came with a mixture of excitement and unknowing, become more and more confident and left with a strong sense of how exciting it is to be part of a community of excellence such as St Catz. The day dispelled myths. More importantly it showed the young people that if they were committed to excellence and endeavour they would find a welcome in a like-minded community such as St Catz.”