Jacari: Time to Teach


Gillian Cross

Children's Author

Gillian Cross

When I met a group of Jacari volunteers, I was immensely impressedby their commitment and enthusiasm. They obviously enjoy giving their time and creative energy - to help children for whom English is a second language.

Fluency in English is vital for education in this country. It's also at the heart of literature, culture and social life. So this is a wonderfully practical scheme to enable students to contribute something important to the community in which they are living. And it's good to see how well they are supported by the Jacari organisation.

Nick Gibb MP

Minister of State for Schools

Nick Gibb

For us to thrive, as an economy and a society, every child must have the chance to reach their full potential, regardless of gender, disability, race or background

The highest-performed education systems demonstrate year after year what Jacari already knows: that with the right support and encouragement, there is no limit to what a child can achieve.

The Jacari Home Teaching Scheme provides a valuable opportunity for students in Oxford to give something back to their surrounding community and is an excellent example of the Big Society in Action.  I should like to send me best wishes for the continuing success of the Jacari Home Teaching Scheme and my sincere congratulations to the many volunteers who give up their own time to help local children access learning and achieve success.

I wish Jacari every future success

Councillor KR Mitchell

Leader of Oxford County Council

KR Mitchell

Oxfordshire County Council is pleased to recommend, and to celebrate our partnership with, the Jacari Home Teaching Scheme. For those families who come to Oxfordshire who have need of support for language, for access to services, and to education and lifelong learning, the Jacari Scheme is both significant and reassuring in its work and commitment, particularly for children and young people. The international reputation of Oxford University is further enhanced by the commitment of its undergraduates, and that of the volunteers who plan the Jacari programme, to provide language teaching and welcoming support for children and young people to access and contribute to Oxfordshire life and learning.

Jack Wellby

VP (Charities and Community), Oxford University Student Union

Jack Wellby

Jacari offers an invaluable opportunity for Oxford students to make a difference in the local Oxford community in which we reside. Taking our talents outside of the college walls is important and through taking part in Jacari, you will have a significant impact on the families and children less fortunate than ourselves. By helping with school work you will make a huge difference to the child's academic progress, and through verbal interaction many children are able to practice and fine-tune their grasp of English, which is in many cases not their first language.

As students of Oxford University we have had an extremely privileged education and Jacari allows us to give others the opportunity fulfill their potential through overcoming barriers of communication and confidence. The Student Union supports Jacari in any way it can and hopes that it continues to grow from strength to strength.

Thank you very much to all who will be making and have made a true difference to the lives of others within the wider community and for your support of Jacari. I sincerely hope that the valuable work of Jacari continues for a long time to come.

Peter Umney-Gray

Head of English as an Additional Language, St Gregory the Great Secondary School

Peter Umney-Grey

Often when I see my students, they tell me with a big smile that their Jacari teacher is coming that day. Their appreciation for the work of Jacari teachers often does not need words.

We are extremely fortunate to have this additional home support where students can have their needs addressed out of the limelight of the classroom. The students can then learn in their maximum comfort zone.

This one-to-one teaching is, I believe, invaluable and should be supported and developed in every possibly way to ensure equality of opportunity for our ethnic minority students.

This is the third year that I have been working with Jacari, and in those three years the organisation has grown from strength to strength.Bravo Jacari! Keep up the great work!

Douglas Haines

Teach First

I have found Jacari to be a well managed and progressive society. Having taught in a school where 40% of pupils have English as additional language I know first hand the pressures this can put on the schools and the pupils concerned. By using enthusiastic, intelligent and hard working volunteers to help address this issue, Jacari is a great example of social responsibility in action.

Having run a seminar for the Jacari volunteers I was impressed with their desire to improve and their dedication to their pupils.

As a recruiter at Teach First students often ask me what could they do to enhance their application. Although we don’t look for specific teaching experience I think working on the Jacari scheme would give students an insight into the challenges of a Teach First school, whilst at the same time giving them some impressive experiences to discuss at interview.

I hope that the relationship between Jacari and Teach First continues as I am sure many Jacari volunteers will make fine Teach First participants.

Shirley Simmons

English as an Additional Language Tutor, SS Mary and John Primary School, Oxford

It is so obvious when a child has a Jacari student to help. The mothers particularly are so pleased to have someone to support as they so want their child to do well and it boosts their confidence as well!

Khaleel Ahmed

Jacari Child!

Khaleel Ahmed

What do you and your friends think of Jacari?

Yeah, Jacari is good because you can learn quite a lot and its fun as you get to go places and do activities. So my friends talk about it often - everyday actually. They get quite excited when they hear they are getting a Jacari teacher and talk about it a lot at school. I look forward to each lesson loads!

What do your school teachers think of Jacari?

They think it's really good as they want children to be clever.

Do you enjoy the events put on by Jacari?

Yeah, loads! Actually, can't tell you how much I enjoy them because it's so fun!

Jo Lim


Jo Lim

When I first met Haider, he was tearing around the back quad of Exeter College, diving for cover from the baddies' onslaught and then destroying them all single-handedly.

I have been teaching Haider for a year now and I love it. Haider is 8 and does not have great enthusiasm for school work so I try to make things a bit more interesting and ask him what HE wants to do instead. Projects have included writing storybooks about Jackie Chan: “The lion was hungry. They had a fight. Jackie Chan hit him. The sharks attacked Jackie Chan.” and the family's new pet rabbits: “The rabbits had babies. The rabbits had one hundred babies. The car ran the cat over.” These stories come complete with bloody illustrations.

We have also practised sums such as “If there were 12 sharks and 7 got killed by Jackie Chan, how many would I have left?” and even tackled some basic anatomy.

At times he can be somewhat lacking in motivation, so I confess I have had to resort to bribery and blackmail of various forms, ranging from the unimaginative (sweets) to the more inventive (paper aeroplane competitions) and the downright unexpected (“having a go” with my stethoscope).

Haider is a joy to visit and I come away every week having laughed much and eaten more (I am never allowed to leave without having finished at least one plateful of onion bhajis)!

Carlos Lastra Anadon


Carlos Lastra Anadon

I have been part of the Jacari home teaching programme for over a year now. I have to say it has been an incredibly rewarding experience. I teach an 11-year-old called Abdul who is originally from Bangladesh. He was falling behind at school, finding it really hard to concentrate in lessons and generally not very interested in what was said in them.

I tend not to give him very formal lessons, but try to spend the couple of hours a week we spend together discussing topics that may not be directly related to what he learns at school, but are nonetheless interesting and (most of the time!) educational. These have included various maths puzzles, how rockets and spaceships work, following up a short story from a book and others. I also try and allow some time to talk to him as a bit of an older brother figure. I think this is something he values a lot, since he doesn't really have any adult figure that listens to him much. His parents often work long hours and so he is left at home in charge of his younger sisters and at school he has to share the attention of the teacher with another twenty kids. And believe me, he does want attention. So I try to give it to him.

I think that I've learnt a lot by teaching Abdul: how to deal with a moody 11-year-old, how to explain science in an understandable and occasionally fun manner, loads of things about his culture and, why deny it, how to appreciate WWF wrestling. He also seems to be much more receptive now and is doing a lot better at school. He also thoroughly enjoys all the outings that the Jacari committee organises and is looking forward to the next one.

Sarah Markiewicz


Sarah Markiewicz

I signed up to Jacari because I wanted to commit myself to some form of service to the Oxford community, and knew I had to make that commitment straight away (or else I was going to get bogged down with uni life in general). I found the Jacari stand at the Freshers' Fair and it sounded like a way to help kids at a very formative stage in their lives, whilst also helping me to build new skills.

I was initially assigned a young Pakistani girl who needed help with “confidence building”. I soon also acquired her sister, whose Jacari tutor had finished their term at Oxford. My role is relatively simple as I have no “academic” responsibilities; I feel it is my duty to make sure the girls have fun. We do drawings, make puzzles, read aloud and write stories, and I make sure to tell them that everything they do is “wonderful”.

The progress has been remarkable; you would never believe that these two incessant chatterboxes were initially introverted and shy. One thing I find quite amusing is their insistence on calling me “Miss Sarah”, because according to the eldest, Zara, I am “not just a friend but a home tutor”. Therefore due respect must be paid!

I wouldn't say the challenges have been enormous. Having not had so much exposure to kids of their age, I am never too sure which tasks are too challenging and which are insultingly easy. I also never know when it is appropriate for me to “win” a game, and when I should let them beat me!

I think the girls would agree that the best day out has been the Oxford Story trip in Michaelmas Term. My goodness it was exhausting though. Control over children certainly wasn't the feature of the day, as we had a game of tip going on down Cornmarket!

All in all it's been an immensely rewarding experience, and I look forward to watching my kids' progress over the coming years.

Mr and Mrs Ahmed


How important is Jacari to your two children?

It's important as it means that they interact with Oxford students and with children of their own age in the events Jacari puts on.

What, in particular, does Jacari help your children with?

It helps their confidence - both their general confidence and their academic confidence. They've both done much better at school on areas in maths that they've previously been helped with at home. Also, the friendship they've built up with their Jacari teacher is fantastic.