Education Schools

Hairy Bikers at Oxford Academy

By Sarah Edwards

Students and staff from The Oxford Academy are taking part in a new BBC series to encourage intergenerational friendships.

Featuring The Hairy Bikers, Si King and Dave Myers,  pensioners and teenagers have been paired up to see if 12 unlikely couples spending time together as equals can transform lives.

The pensioners have their frailties and issues, including bereavements, loneliness and scepticism about the ‘youth of today’ to contend with. While the teens are struggling with chequered academic records, bullying and low self-esteem, with the added pressure of life-changing exams ahead. The ambitious hope is that these strange bedfellows can push each other in new ways – and in the process improve their health, wellbeing and cognitive skills.

In the first episode Si and Dave met head teacher Niall McWilliams and pupils from the Oxford Academy. They set out to search for willing senior participants for the intergenerational experiment.

Jacub, 13, is paired with 70 year-old former kitchen-fitter Clive. Jacub has ADHD and is struggling to cope with his dad’s suicide eight years ago. Clive’s youngest son died ten years ago from a drug overdose.

Meanwhile, 13 year-old Tawne – who suffers bullying both in school and online – is partnered with 65 year-old former nurse Judy, who was also a victim of bullying, to help try and boost her self-esteem. Robbie, 16, cares for his mum who has Multiple Sclerosis, which means he often misses school. He is partnered with 62 year-old ex-supermarket manager Rick who has lived alone for ten years.

And, with a shared love of boxing, at first 16 year-old Wez gets on well with his partner 71 year-old Dave – but when Dave casts doubt on boxing as a career option, their partnership looks like it might already be on the ropes.

Old School with the Hairy Bikers is produced in partnership with The Open University. It is part of the BBC’s volunteering season Do Something Great.

Si King said: “What we want to do with Old School is to bring our teens and old folk together to form partnerships and help each other grow, together. Hopefully it could make the world and our local communities a better place.”
Dave Myers said: “We want to use the power of BBC telly to make a difference – to spur people into action. We’ll do our best and give it a go – it’s worth it!”

Watch the next episode of Old School with The Hairy Bikers next Tuesday 9pm on BBC Two.

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