Trinity College is taking a leading role in a new collaboration to diversify the sport of rowing and encourage state school students to broaden their educational aspirations.
The College’s schools and outreach team is joining up with the charity Fulham Reach Boat Club and Burlington Danes Academy in West London to build on an existing initiative to widen access to rowing – traditionally considered a private-school sport – and incorporating widening participation activities to support and encourage state school students to set their academic ambitions high in terms of higher education.
The project pairs Trinity College with pupils from Burlington Danes Academy and among a range of other activities throughout the year, will include a focused rowing experience during a residential programme that will encompass the Oxford Open Day in September. This unique partnership will aim to support academically able pupils in their university applications by introducing pupils to university-level study and demystifying life at selective universities like Oxford.
Hannah Rolley, Head of Access at Trinity College, said: ‘We are impressed by Fulham Reach Boat Club’s inspirational commitment to increasing access to rowing amongst under-represented groups of young people, who may hold the misconception that it is not a sport for them. The club’s results speak for themselves: in 2017 they supported over 1,000 state school pupils from areas of significant socio-economic disadvantage to get rowing; 49% of these pupils were from a BME background and 57% were female.
‘This is a unique partnership between Trinity College and Fulham Reach in which we have a shared vision to increase access to both our organisations amongst the most under-represented and disadvantaged young people in our communities. This is a fantastic opportunity for us to build upon common aims, by sharing our resources and fully supporting these young people to fulfill their potential.’
September will see the collaboration’s first Rowing Open Day Residential, when Trinity College Rowing Club will run training opportunities for Burlington Danes Pupils on the river. Trinity’s Access Team will also work to support the pupils to learn about and consider a wide variety of higher education opportunities, including those available to them at the University of Oxford. The project also aims to support pupils and teachers in key stages 3 and 4, during a series of visits to their school throughout the upcoming year.
Fulham Reach CEO Steve O’Connor said: ‘The most important factor of this new scheme is that it is telling the state school children that studying at Oxbridge is an option if you work hard enough to get the grades.It makes it more realistic for them. It’s giving them that piece of knowledge that, although getting place at Oxbridge is competitive, this is only based on your academic performance.
‘It’s not elitist in the sense that your background will determine whether you get in or not. What will determine it is your work ethic and your results. I think that’s something sport and rowing can help teach them.’