Univ Dates: 2007-2011
Degree: BA PPE and PGCE (Education)
Degree Level: Undergraduate and Postgraduate
Biography: After studying at Univ, Jim worked as Vice President of OUSU before starting his teaching career. In 2015 he was accepted onto the Future Leaders programme which aims to make participants headteachers within five years. He has since served as Assistant Headteacher at a challenging school in Brent. He is part of a group looking to establish a school in South West London based on community organising principles, having used his Univ travel scholarship to gain experience with community organising in the American Midwest. He has written articles on education and politics for various journals including Renewal, edited by Univ History Fellow Dr Ben Jackson. At Univ James received the Harold Wilson Prize for best Univ third year thesis in 2010.
Why did you choose Univ?
At the time I was interested in global governance and international development and Ngaire Woods was at Univ and I was interested in working under her; we’re both from New Zealand so that seemed kind of cool. Marc Stears really became a big influence on me too so I ended up focusing on political theory and political thought.
Do you remember your firs day in College?
I remember meeting some people from Eton and I had been to a comprehensive, but there were lots of really friendly people. I think it’s quite meritocratic and everyone gets their chance to shine in whatever way they choose at Univ.
Do you have a favourite memory of Univ?
The most terrifying moment was reading the Grace! Maybe not a favourite memory, but it sticks in my mind… Also I remember great friends and great times. Tutorials on political theorists with Marc Stears and those discussions and being pushed to talk about whoever it was that week…
Were you already thinking about career choices at Univ?
Not while at Univ really no; I guess around Christmas of my third year I had to start figuring out what it was I was going to do and teaching was the last thing I thought I would end up doing, but I thought it was important to get a trade. I didn’t think I would do it forever, but it seemed like a good next step and so I applied for the PGCE at Univ.
Do you think that Univ shaped you?
Massively! I met so many people at College that I’m still friends with, but also there were the opportunities that Univ presented. It’s so often who you know and not what you know and the connections I have created at Univ have helped in that way.
I’ve always loved a challenge and whilst I was at Univ I tried to challenge myself and take as many opportunities as possible and that has set me up really well.
What do you think the importance of a project like the Young Univ Gallery is?
The Young Univ Gallery showcases the really exciting things that alumni are doing beyond the typical pathways. There are many of us who are working to try to make the country a better place and improve the lives of others. Univ has a proud tradition of that with people like Clement Attlee, Harold Wilson and William Beveridge being associated with the College. Lots of people come to Oxford and want to push themselves and this project will showcase what can be done when you leave.