Students on a Step Up tour

New College's Step Up programme is designed to inspire and support state school students throughout Year 11, 12 and 13. It attempts to ensure that these students, of high academic potential, recognise Oxford as a realistic and achievable option for them in the future, and are fully equipped and effectively supported to make a competitive application. 

Crucially, it is a sustained contact scheme. Students have regular, consistent contact with the College's Outreach team over 3 years (2 years for students attending a sixth form college). This not only allows us to support students across the many stages of a university application process but also helps to normalise the University of Oxford, making it seem less intimidating and more achievable. 

Over 7 steps, either at their school or at New College, we familiarise them with what being an Oxford student is really like and support them to build a competitive application to top universities, whether that ends up being to the University of Oxford or not. 

Step Up  launched in the academic year 2017/18 and is fully funded, minimising costs for schools involved. 

The Steps

The Steps of Step Up (all information included is listed below)

Step 1 takes place at schools and is an introductory session about universities and challenges students' existing perceptions of the University of Oxford. 

Step 2 is hosted at New College. Students have the chance to see three different colleges, meet current students and academics, and have a session on their current and future options. 

Step 3 gets students talking and writing about their favourite subject - a good introduction to the interviews and personal statements which will come in the future. It also builds analytical reading and critical thinking skills. 

Step 4 is an alternative Open Day, hosted and run by current New College students, including academic sessions, social activities and a sample freshers' fair. 

Step 5 helps students make a start on their personal statements, analysing existing statements to see what works well, what doesn't, and the kind of activities they could be doing to further their own subject interests. 

Step 6 is based around the University of Oxford Open Day. Students will have the opportunity to stay at the College for the first time, before learning more about their chosen subjects and a variety of different colleges by visiting them! 

Step 7 introduces students to Oxford interviews, informing them about the process and helping them prepare. 

Our Partner Schools

Due to the programme's positive reception and New College's continuing commitment to outreach, Step Up has expanded significantly in each year since its inception. 

Step Up specifically aims to work with students from groups that are currently under-represented at the University of Oxford. 

We are delighted that in 2019/20, we will now be working with 30 partner schools from across England and Wales: 

Joined in 2017/18:

  • Cheney School - Oxford
  • Denmark Road High School - Gloucester
  • Lord Williams' School - Thame
  • Newham Collegiate Sixth Form - London
  • Queen Mary's Grammar School - Walsall
  • St Angela's School - London
  • Thomas Hardye School - Dorchester
  • Westwood College - Leek
  • Wren Academy - London

Joined 2018/19

  • Aldridge School - Walsall
  • Bilborough College - Nottingham
  • Calderstones School - Liverpool
  • Cardinal Newman Catholic School - Hove
  • Clapton Girls' Academy - London
  • Haberdashers' Askes' Hatcham College - London
  • Nelson & Colne College - Burnley
  • Oaklands School - London
  • Oxford Spires Academy - Oxford
  • Treorchy Comprehensive School - Rhondda, Wales

Joined 2019/20

  • Cardiff High School, Cardiff
  • City of Norwich School, Norwich
  • Gower College (and local partner schools), Swansea
  • Honiton Community College, Honiton, Devon
  • Larkmead School, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
  • Newcastle Sixth Form College, Newcastle
  • Notre Dame High School, Norwich
  • The Bishop of Winchester Academy, Bournemouth
  • The King's School, Ottery St Mary, Devon
  • The Priory Ruskin Academy, Grantham, Lincolnshire
  • Ullswater Community College, Penrith, Cumbria

*map sourced from Google MapsMap showing the locations of all Step Up schools

Get In Touch

If you would like to hear more about the programme, please contact a member of our Outreach team: 

Dan Powell, Head of Outreach

Daniel PowellHead of Outreach -


Misha Brazier Tope

Misha Brazier TopeOutreach and Communications Officer -