'Your Role in Access: The Access Society' launch

10th December 2018

This piece was produced by Graham Mogridge (Philosophy, Politics and Economics, 2016).

On the 22nd of November 2018, members of the Pembroke community, including students, staff and alumni, met to launch ‘Your role in access: The Pembroke Access Society.’ The evening was organised by the society's Co-Presidents, myself and Holly Roach (Biochemistry, 2016).

The evening comprised of activities, discussions, and talks from two notable access advocates, Dr Peter Claus, Pembroke Access Fellow and Mr Sammy Wright, the Vice-Principal of Southmoor Academy in Sunderland, recently named one of twelve new Government Social Mobility Commissioners.

The Access Society aims to further engage and develop Pembroke’s access and outreach initiatives, and provide a space within college where members are able to learn more about access, as well as contribute ideas, arrange activities and promote access to a wider audience outside of College.

Dr Claus gave a talk on Pembroke’s access programme and its rapid growth since its launch over ten years ago. Beginning as a summer school in Humanities for East End students, OxNet has grown to include pupils interested in pursuing a variety of subjects, from over 60 schools in three different regions of the UK, many of which have had little prior engagement with Oxford University.

He highlighted how former participants of the programme, who attended Pembroke, have achieved notable academic excellence, with recent graduates achieving first-class degrees and Gibbs Prizes, which was celebrated as a part of Pembroke’s ‘Success Series’ across College news and social media earlier this year.

Mr Sammy Wright followed up by highlighting a number of important considerations for future access work. He stressed the plurality of disadvantage and the importance of thinking critically when considering potentially reductive measures. Introducing cognitive dissonance theory, Sammy drew on the importance of long-term, intensive, action-led work that emphasises the value of the academic, from a young age.

The event ended with a buzz in the air, with group-based discussions that saw individuals connected with Pembroke in a variety of different ways, discussing and contributing their own views on what can be done to improve and expand Pembroke’s current Access and Outreach initiatives.

Reflecting on the event, Holly commented:

‘I was overwhelmed by the response the event got. We received numerous emails from tutors and alumni saying they wanted to get involved. It was great to see such a wide variety of people at the event, it really showed that all levels of Pembroke would like to help improve access to Oxford.’

The atmosphere at the event was very positive, we are really looking forward to putting together a strategy incorporating all of our attendees’ ideas, and welcoming further involvement in the society from all members of the Pembroke community.

To learn more on Pembroke’s Access and Outreach initiatives via our Access crowdfunding video, or to give your support, please click here.