BWS Academic Society Blog

Bridgewater School Academic Society visit Oxford 

February 2023

On 7th and 8th February 2023, a group of students and staff from Bridgewater School’s Academic Society set off to visit to Oxford, which began with a spot of lunch in Gloucester Green Town Square before embarking on what was to be a fascinating trip for all concerned.

The group began their tour with a visit to the Ashmolean, the University of Oxford’s museum of art and archaeology, where they were collectively in awe of the spectacular pieces on display. From Kandinsky to Picasso, Francis Bacon to Stradivarius, the collections were simply magnificent when viewed in person. The Guy Fawkes lantern and Ballyshannon Gold Foil Disc were also viewed and there is no doubt that these provided the Bridgewater students with significant inspiration for the content of their first independent research task.

Next, a walking tour of many famous sites, including several of the colleges, the Randolph Hotel and Martyrs’ Memorial commemorating the 16th century Oxford Martyrs. Upon arrival at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History for a learning session, Education Officer Chris Jarvis delivered an animated and informative exploration of the discoveries and theories of Charles Darwin. Students handled important artefacts and relics and questioned how and why certain species had evolved in such a way. Mr Jarvis also helped many of the Bridgewater students overcome their fear of spiders by allowing a tame Chilean Tarantula to walk across their hands and introduced a collection of Giant Hissing Cockroaches. The session culminated in the viewing of actual specimens from Darwin’s Voyage of the Beagle in 1835 and the evolutionary biologist’s handwritten notes were truly an honour to see.

After shopping time in the Westgate Shopping Centre, the group ventured forward to take on the Escape Hunt escape rooms and work together to beat the timer and solve the mystery. How lovely it was to see the Year 11 and Sixth Form students working so well together and a particular mention must go to the team who escaped Wonderland (a feat that only 25% of groups have ever accomplished). Next it was time for an evening meal and the students spent some time together in restaurants of their choice before meeting again to head back to the accommodation for the night. The Central Backpackers facility offered a real ‘university’ experience for the students, with private use of a kitchen, lounge and relaxation area in which the evening was spent enjoying board games, playing the guitar and relaxing together after a very busy day.

The following morning served up breakfast at the famous Covered Market and the renowned Brown’s Cafe. The group then enjoyed a guided tour of Corpus Christi College where they heard all about life as a student at Oxford University and being part of the college system. Students were able to view lecture theatres, the dining hall and library, and see where the on-campus accommodation was located. There was also the opportunity to find out about the admissions process, life at the University and to gain further subject-specific information.

Finally, an additional opportunity to take in the sights with a visit to the Bodleian Library, Bridge of Sighs and the amazing treasure trove that is Blackwell’s Bookshop, before finishing the trip with lunch, souvenirs and the coach-ride home. The trip was most certainly a unique and thoroughly enjoyable learning experience, both academically and socially and gave the students a real flavour of life as an undergraduate at one of the world’s leading universities.

Please enjoy viewing the photographs of beautiful Oxford in the Winter sunshine and look out for more updates from the Academic Society as they complete their first research task and presentations.

Pupils' experiences are enriched by an extensive range of visits and extra-curricular activities.

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