Dick Tizard

Dick Tizard. College archives, CCPH 1/30.

I am currently hunting through the college archive, looking for documents about Dick Tizard to put on display as part of an event to commemorate and honour Dick Tizard’s fundamental contributions to the College. The event is being held on 24 September as part ofAssociation Weekend.

Our current successes in widening participation and attracting applicants from state schools is just one reason to be proud of being part of Churchill College. I’ve been delighted to find lots of evidence of Dick Tizard’s passionate commitment to the principles of access for the brightest students from all backgrounds and to the importance of offering opportunities for students (or would-be students) to broaden their horizons. Dick Tizard’s ‘Schoolboy Visitors’ scheme is just one example.

Instructions for the "Schoolboy Visitors"

Instructions for the “Schoolboy Visitors”. College archives, CCAC 180/1.

Today, Churchill maintains Tizard’s legacy by employing a dedicated Widening Participation Officer, Jonathan Padley, whose job it is to help attract the best applicants to Cambridge and to Churchill, regardless of the background they come from. Jonathan works across the UK but particularly concentrates his efforts on the 400+ secondary schools and colleges in South Wales, Surrey, Sussex, and the London boroughs of Croydon, Merton, and Sutton. More broadly, the College’s whole Admissions Team works tremendously hard in this regard. We were all delighted when the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission’s last State of the Nation report (December 2015) identified Churchill as the Oxbridge college with the greatest proportion of acceptances by state sector.

The college archive contains bulging files of type-written correspondence about Dick Tizard’s ‘Schoolboy Visitors’ scheme. It was clearly an enormously labour-intensive and meticulously organised process. Tizard initially approached hundreds of grammar schools across the country inviting them to nominate boys (remember at the time Churchill College was still a men’s college) to take part in the scheme. The principle was simple — sixth form boys spent three unstructured days at Churchill during which time they were free to explore the facilities that were available to undergraduates at Churchill and in Cambridge. It was completely up to them to make the most of the opportunity. Many schools did not reply to Tizard at all, but when schools nominated boys for the scheme, Tizard followed up by writing to identify suitable dates.

Although there was no timetable imposed on the visiting school student, Tizard made sure that unobtrusive support was available and also entrusted visitors with their own role in ensuring the scheme’s success. Boys from the same school came at different times and there was a rolling programme of arrivals and departures. An undergraduate was lined up to act as a point of contact for the visitor. The new visitor was also told about other schoolboys who would be on site at the same time as him. By day 2, it was his responsibility to make contact with the next new arrival and help him feel welcome.

The feedback about the scheme was hugely positive. One change was made fairly swiftly: the title ‘Schoolboy Visitors’ was dropped because the visiting school students were so empowered by their experience of visiting the college that the title seemed rather demeaning.

— Natalie Adams, September 2016

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