AN OXFORD school's TV project to pair pupils with pensioners will continue long after The Hairy Bikers have left.

The first episode of Old School, which saw 12 Oxford Academy students spend time with local pensioners – with the help of the quirky cooks – aired this week on BBC2.

Following the success of the project, headteacher Niall McWilliams promised to continue expanding the scheme after the series ends in two weeks' time.

In the project, pupils are matched up with elderly residents in Blackbird Leys who they meet up with on a regular basis.

Mr McWilliams said: "We took part because we could see the genuine potential in the project.

"We hoped it would have a positive impact on the community and on our students and that's now coming to fruition.

"The programme is expanding and I can say as long as I am at this school it will continue."

Old School aired on BBC2 on Tuesday night and featured four of the pairings from the Blackbird Leys area.

The programme shows the unlikely friendships forming as both generations talk through each other's problems.

Two more episodes of Old School are scheduled for the next two weeks and 16-year-old Charisma Liu from Greater Leys is set to be featured with her pensioner partner Hanif in episode three.

She said: "The whole thing was really positive.

"I was quite cautious at the start because I have always been very shy, both at school and at home, but Hanif helped me a lot as he is a lot more confident, and I helped him with things like modern technology and worked on his English."

The year eleven student added: "Our two generations have a lot to offer each other and I would definitely encourage pupils to get involved next year - it's a wonderful experience."

Mr McWilliams said he hoped both the publicity and work done through the scheme would improve the reputation of the school that has been "pilloried" in recent years.

Oxford Academy was rated one of the worst-performing in the UK in January 2013 after the Department for Education found just 26 per cent of pupils had achieved five A* to Cs at GCSE including English and maths.

It was placed in special measures, but managed to upgrade its rating to good in December 14 under the new leadership of Mr McWilliams.

He said: "The reputation and perception of the school in the city is not the right one.

"People think it's a very poor performing school but in actual fact it's a performing very well, the behaviour is impeccable and the students are brilliant.

"I can't say whether the TV programme or the project will change that but I'm certainly hoping it does.

"We want to be at the centre of the community, not closed off from it, and we want the community to believe in us and our pupils."