WHILE children are enjoying their Easter holidays, adults in Blackbird Leys have a chance to go back to ‘school’.

Ruskin College is hosting a week of free courses on the estate to encourage residents to explore their options in further education.

Next week there are eight courses – ranging from human rights to creative writing – which are open to anyone over the age of 19.

Coordinator Sasha East said: “The college has decided to take its learning out into the city with a week-long programme.

“There are different courses available that reflect some of the many different things at the college.

“I’m hoping people of all ages – over the age of 19 – will take part.”

A resident of the estate, Miss East said: “It’s been recognised that university admission achievement is low in Blackbird Leys compared to other parts of the city.

“It could be because people have not had the opportunity to pursue an interest of theirs because of a lack of money, or because of work and family commitments, or because they just didn’t know what was available.

“This is an opportunity for people to find out what they can do. Or maybe they’re new to the area and want to meet new people.”

She added: “People have started to take an interest already and it’s not even started yet.”

Courses at the Blackbird Leys Community Centre’s IT hub have room for only 12 people, but Miss East hopes other courses will attract more.

The college’s vice-principal Paul Di-Felice said: “This is a great opportunity to learn something new in a relaxed and friendly environment.

“There are real benefits to community learning as it builds confidence, develops skills and provides a crucial step towards further study.

“Ruskin College is aiming to provide real progression routes into a range of further and higher education programmes.

“This event will give students the space to think, explore and consider their options.”

Greater Leys resident David Dowling, 48, is planning on attending some of the courses.

He said: “I want to do this because I want to learn about other things. I did a law diploma but I’m not working any more because I had cancer.

“People don’t know what is available to them.”

Based in Dunstan Road, Old Headington, the college has provided “a second chance in education” for people without previous formal education since 1899.

Named after social critic and essayist John Ruskin, the college is not part of Oxford University, but has strong links to the institution.

It allows students special privileges to use university facilities and attend lectures, and its members are eligible for long-term temporary membership of the Oxford Union.

Ruskin has historic links with the Labour and trade union movement. A painting of playwright George Bernard Shaw found at the college’s old Walton Street site in 2012 now hangs at Labour Party headquarters in Westminster.