OCF has awarded grants totalling £47,000 to tackle educational inequality across the county. We are now convening partners interested in the issue and assessing long-term solutions.

In November 2018, nine grants were made of between £5,000 and £9,000, reaching over 500 beneficiaries throughout Oxfordshire. The focus was on children and young people, but also people who have been long-term unemployed, refugees, people with learning disabilities and people struggling with their mental health.

OCF’s funding mostly covers core costs for proven activity by trusted charity partners – such as backing development and support workers who can give high-quality, one-to-one help to some of Oxfordshire’s most disadvantaged people.

One grant, to the Clear Sky Children’s Foundation, will enable play and creative arts therapy for children suffering early trauma or disadvantage that affects their mental health and education. This includes looked-after children, children who have witnessed domestic violence, and children with autism or behavioural issues. The funding will contribute towards training and therapist costs, helping the charity continue its track record – an 84% success rate in decreasing emotional, social and behavioural difficulties and hyperactivity amongst the children receiving therapy. This in turn leads to benefits for the child’s whole school class, alleviating the needs of those children who are a distraction to others because of their mental health and emotional needs.

Other grants made as part of the round help people into work later on in life, address lack of numeracy, build mechanical skills and discover the therapeutic benefits of gardening. A full list can be found below.

This round of funding was the first time OCF used data from the Local Insight mapping tool to set priorities for grant-making. The tool meant we could publish a report showing types of educational inequality and its consequences, and pinpoint specific areas in the county that needed support.

OCF is now building on the use of data and boosting our knowledge around educational inequality. As part of the new Project Manager role being fulfilled by Suzy Donald, we are gathering more detailed quantitative data from Local Insight, but also collecting qualitative information through extensive interviews and convening meetings with key stakeholders in the local education sector.

This research takes a holistic approach, looking at how deprivation of all kinds affects educational attainment – and through that, general wellbeing – throughout a person’s life. For example, in Blackbird Leys, Oxford, 37% of children live in deprived families, in comparison to areas in North Oxford that have a score of 0% on a scale that measures Income Deprivation Affecting Children (IDACI). People in Blackbird Leys are much less likely to hit milestones throughout their primary and secondary education, and by adulthood, 16% of residents in the area claim welfare benefits, in comparison with 1–2% in North Oxford. Download the full paper

This project will therefore inform not just future grant-making, but other collaborative initiatives or OCF investments in this area.

Discover case studies about the impact of our grants



List of grants made in OCF’s Education and Skills round of Delivering Impact funding
Amount awarded
# beneficiaries
Area of focus
Primary beneficiaries
Project description
Clear Sky Children’s Foundation
East Oxford
Children and Young People
Play and creative arts therapy for children suffering early trauma or disadvantage that affects their mental health and their education.
Oxford Wood Recycling
Long-term unemployed
Employment support for those excluded from work, using wood recycling to give employment or volunteering opportunities in creating rustic furniture.
Bridewell Organic Gardens
People with mental health issues
Therapeutic horticulture and craft sessions to assist with recovery from mental ill-health, within a walled garden and vineyard.
Children Heard and Seen
Children and Young People
Arts and craft groups for children with a parent in prison, reducing stigma and secrecy, and ultimately reducing the intergenerational cycle of offending.
Pennyhooks Farm Trust
Abingdon, Witney, Wantage, Grove, Oxford City, Kidlington
People with multiple disabilities
‘Countryside Skills’ passed on to young adults with complex autism, leading to improved self-esteem and mental health and consequently less reliance on other services.
Barracks Lane Community Garden
Refugees/asylum seekers /immigrants
Regular horticultural sessions for young people who speak little English, helping them progress with their language and excel educationally.
Quest for Learning
Children and Young People
Addressing poor levels of mental maths and financial literacy through 121 mentoring and family support, using the charity’s own ‘Numbskills’ resources.
ARCH (Assisted Reading for Children in Oxfordshire)
Abingdon, Banbury, Berinsfield, Didcot, Kidlington, Oxford, Wantage, Witney
Children and Young People
Recruitment and training for new volunteers who provide twice-weekly sessions sharing books, games and conversation, with a focus on areas of disadvantage.
Windrush Bike Project
West Oxfordshire
Children and Young People
Bike mechanic skills for young people with learning disabilities, helping them build skills that could apply to future engineering vocations.