A Week at an Oxford Scholastica Summer School

14 May, 2024 | Blog Articles, Get the Edge

Oxford Scholastica is an education company specialising in running Oxford-based summer schools, both in-person and online, for talented and passionate 12-18 year olds. We focus on promoting academic excellence, providing students with an immersive cultural experience, helping them gain clarity for their futures and get the edge in their university applications.

This article outlines a week at Oxford Scholastica’s flagship residential programme from the perspective of Toby, an Activities Coordinator (AC).

Meet the Team!

ACs are the worker bees of Oxford Scholastica; they show students around the city, make them feel at home, and help organise cultural and recreational activities. Each AC is assigned to one of our houses, so students get to know their house’s ACs very well over the course of the two weeks.

ACs work alongside the Heads of House, who live in our accommodation buildings with the students. Heads of House also get involved with the social activities, as well as being a point of contact for students throughout the programme. Our matrons, who look after students if they fall ill, also live in the houses.

Our house teams are supported by our year round team, who ensure all of our online and in-person programmes run smoothly, and that students have the best time possible. This includes everything from carefully planning our course curricula to answering student and parent questions before, during and after the summer.

The Activities in Week One

Every weekday on an Oxford Scholastica summer school starts with us ACs putting out a lovely breakfast for you from 7.30am until 9am, typically including toast, cereal, fruit, scotch pancakes, juice and hot drinks. If there is something in particular you’d like to have, you can tell us and we’ll have it ready for you in a day or two!

Sunday

In week one, you’ll arrive on Sunday afternoon and we’ll show you to your room to get settled in. In the evening, we meet as a house for the first time and head to the beautiful Saïd Business School for a barbecue, where we’ll play some games and get to know each other in our houses.

Houses include a mix of people studying different subjects, from all around the world, so you’re sure to have fascinating conversations with your new friends!

Monday

After breakfast on Monday, we’ll show you the route to your classes at the BSG, where we’ll leave you to meet your tutors and start your fantastic academic journey with the Oxford Scholastica Academy.

Your tutors will have created exciting and invigorating lesson plans to broaden your horizons and provide a first stepping-stone in preparing for university. If you choose Experience Creative Writing, for example, you’ll have the opportunity to create your own Holden Caulfield or Nick Carraway in the unreliable narrators class.

Classes take place every weekday for two hours – apart from on ‘Windsor Thursday’ (more on that below!) – and are paired with two hours of independent study time when you do your homework in your house.

After your first class, we’ll show you the best spots for lunch in town. A lot of ACs are Oxford locals, whether they study here or grew up here, so they’ll be happy to share their favourite hidden culinary gems!

We’ll put more of this expert knowledge to good use later in the afternoon on the first Monday, when we take you on tours around Oxford. 

In the evening we’ll eat together as a house at a local restaurant before relaxing at home with ice cream from an iconic local shop.

Summer school students enjoying ice cream at the end of the day.

Tuesday

After classes on the first Tuesday, you’ll enjoy your lunch break in town with your new friends before meeting back at the houses for a quintessential Oxford activity – punting!

What is punting?” you may well be thinking – it’s a traditional form of boating on the River Cherwell, and the River Cam in Cambridge (although punting styles differ between the two!). It’s often one of students’ real highlights in the programme, and usually involves a fair amount of time spent trying to dodge the bushes on the banks! 

Once you’ve punted to your heart’s content, all of the houses head to the University Parks to eat pizza and play sports.

Wednesday

The next day will see you attend two highly insightful Masterclasses on university applications and careers choices, offering vital insights for your future success, both academic and professional.

After eating out with us at a restaurant, you’ll then enjoy watching a live production of a play by one of the most famous playwrights in the English language, William Shakespeare. The staging of the play in the grounds of Oxford castle will no doubt remind you of the historical and cultural significance of his work.

Thursday

On “Windsor Thursday, you won’t head to classes in the morning – instead, we head on a very exciting trip to the primary residence of the British Royal family (and the place where Prince Harry and Meghan got married) – Windsor Castle!

After touring the State Apartments and immersing yourself in an important aspect of Britain’s rich history, you will have free time to explore the town of Windsor. From shopping to walking in the Great Park, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained until we take the coach back to Oxford.

In the evening, we’ll have a house night, where we run fun activities for you such as football and other sports in the park, or board game competitions, craft activities and more in the cosy common rooms.

Crafting and board games during the summer school.

Friday

On Friday, you’ll return to your studies, with classes in the morning to prepare you for your Challenge sessions in the afternoon.

The challenges are often what students find the most intellectually stimulating (and useful with regards to preparing for university) in the programme.

If you’re on the Discover and Experience Medicine courses, for example, you’ll head to the John Radcliffe Hospital to meet patients and observe doctors going about their work. Afterwards, having taken you to another great restaurant, it’s time for movie night (Barbenheimer anyone?).

Saturday

Saturday morning will see you attend another incredible Masterclass, this time on leadership and communication. The ACs will get involved in this one as well, helping you learn how to form connections across socioeconomic and generational divides.

After free time and another trip to a restaurant, we’ll get to enjoy our much-loved quiz night in our houses. With rounds covering UK culture, subject-specific highlights, and even staff baby pictures, this will also be a chance for you to learn more about us, the ACs!

Sunday

After a much-deserved lie-in on Sunday morning, you’ll get to have brunch.

Later on Sunday afternoon, you can join one of our optional activities, whether you opt for a trip to the world-famous Ashmolean Museum, or a game of football at the Iffley Road sports ground.

We finish off the week with a hearty portion of fish and chips, and dance the night away at our International Boat Ball. This is an opportunity to see Oxford from a different angle, floating along the River Thames as the sun sets.

Summer school students at the international boat ball.

How to Make the Most of an Oxford Scholastica Summer

So, now you know what the first week at an Oxford Scholastica summer school entails, and you’ve learned a little more about the role ACs will play in your time with us, you’re ready to prepare!

Here are some tips on how to enjoy an Oxford Scholastica summer school, and make it worthwhile in preparing for university: 

  • Come prepared! Make sure you have everything you need to make your summer a smooth one, from knowing how to get to Oxford to what you need to pack.
  • Choose a subject you’re genuinely interested in! The programmes are academically challenging, so it’s important you choose what’s right for you.
  • Please be open and respectful – you’ll make lots of new friends from all over the world as long as you’re sensitive to cultural differences.  
  • And lastly, make sure you’re well-rested before the summer school starts! It’s intense (in all the good ways) so you want to be on best form for it.

As you can see, we provide you with the very best academic, social and cultural experiences at the Oxford Scholastica Academy – and this post only covers the first half! Many students every year say that it was the best summer of their lives, and that it was a positive turning point in their preparations for university.

If you come with an open mind to study something you’re passionate about, ready to make friends with people all over the world, we ACs promise to make that a reality for you!

toby

By Toby Gay

Toby is an Activities Coordinator at Oxford Scholastica. He studied Linguistics and Spanish at the University of Edinburgh, and will be starting an MSc in Environment, Politics and Development at King’s College London. He has just finished working for a year in Berlin at different NGOs, including a bike repair workshop for refugees, and an organisation working towards making Berlin carbon neutral. Toby loves learning about languages, and is also keen on music, sports, reading and films – “Aftersun” has recently become his new favourite film.

Looking to take part in an Oxford summer course?

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