Astrea Pupils Set Their Sights High On Visit To Hertford College, Oxford University

Children from The Hill Primary and Netherwood Academy take part in an Inspiration For Innovation event by Gaia Innovation

As part of a programme organised by Gaia Innovation and designed to ‘inspire beyond measure’, 22 pupils from Year 6 at The Hill Primary Academy and seven students from Year 7 at Netherwood Academy visited Hertford College, University of Oxford, on 23rd February 2018.  Both academies are part of the Astrea Academy Trust, a family of schools based predominantly in South Yorkshire.

Following a tour of the College by Dr Catherine Redford, the children attended a session with the College Librarian, Alice Roques, who talked to them about the wonder of books and the knowledge they contain. The group was treated to a close-up look at five books dating from the 1600s.

At the Career Speed Networking event, small groups talked with Oxford undergraduates about life at Oxford. Among the undergraduates was Jack Nunn, a former Netherwood Academy pupil.

The day was topped off with a debate in the College Chapel, with pupils participating alongside undergraduates. The topic was: ‘This house believes that the Internet has a negative effect on the lives of young people.’

At the end of the visit, Will Hutton, Principal of Hertford College, spoke to the children about doing their best and taking advantage of all the opportunities that came their way, to inspire and to make use of their imagination and creativity. He added: “The whole point of life is to live a life that you have a reason to value.”

Julia Muir, CEO Gaia Innovation concluded by hoping the students had enjoyed their day at Hertford College, and it would be a memory that stayed with them forever. She added: “The reason I arranged to bring you here is because when I was at school, a teacher told me I should apply to study at Oxford. I rejected the idea, because I thought that people like me, from South Yorkshire, wouldn’t fit in and wouldn’t be wanted. I had never been to Oxford, and had no idea of what it was like. It seemed to be a different world where I would not belong.
Later in life, having met lots of Oxford graduates, I realised I had been very wrong.
So, I hope you have learned today that you are welcome at Hertford College, the people are lovely, and that you would fit in.
You will have heard that young people like you are the ‘next generation’, the Future. Actually, the things you do now are influencing the world today – the way you are using technology is shaping how we live our lives. You are more influential than you think.
We need you to use your intelligence, creativity, imagination and caring skills to steer the way technology changes the world.
We need you, the children of Barnsley, to find your voice and use it to express your opinions.
So it’s not just about having a happy and successful life in the future, and having lots of choices of what to do after school, it’s about what you do today – you must work hard and play hard at school every day, and do things that make you happy and healthy.
Please try to be the very best that you can be in everything you do. I believe in you, and I believe that every one of you could achieve the grades to get to university (there are many to choose from) and then go on to be able to choose exciting jobs.
You must now believe in yourself. You are perhaps able to do much better than you realise.”


Libby Nicholas, Chief Executive of Astrea Academy Trust said:

“We are absolutely delighted that our Year 6s from The Hill and Year 7s from Netherwood took part in this trip to visit an Oxford College. At Astrea, everything we do is guided by our central mission of an education that ‘inspires beyond measure’, and this opportunity to visit Hertford College organised by Gaia Innovation is a fantastic example of just that. We want all our children to aspire to greatness and fly.”


Julia Muir, Chief Executive of Gaia Innovation said:
“The trip to Hertford College was all about showing the pupils that undergraduates at Oxford are just like them. We want the trip to open their eyes to a possible future for them and plant a seed in their mind that one day they, too, could attend Oxford University.”


Jo Wilson, teacher at Netherwood Academy said:
“The visit was planned to inspire all students and to give them the confidence to realise that Oxford University is a place where they could study in the future. We were greeted by Dr Catherine Redford, who gave us a brilliant tour and explanation about the college and the day-to-day life of an undergraduate. She went on to explain funding and told our students that 70% of undergraduates came from state schools, and they were aiming for 75% next year. We saw Dr Redford’s tutor room; the students were amazed and thought it looked like a bedroom. We discovered books that were over 400 years old and looked at their history. Lunch was served in the amazing dining room, which reminded the students very much of the Harry Potter films. The visit provoked so many great questions and positive conversations resulting in our students changing their initial vision of ‘could we’ to ‘we could’.  It was a fabulously inspiring day for all.”