Oxplorers at work during Studio 5

Oxplorers at work during Studio 5

My experience is that parents want to engage with other families, but without a framework it is difficult to know how much time you can afford to spend. A framework that is simple enough to follow pulls people into a community and creates lovely groups. Oxplorer’s focus is to continue developing this framework going forward.
— Mum, network event at the Oxford Hub
Families coming together creates a shared understanding among parents that more children than your own have high energy that can play out in both temper and running around.
— Teacher, Pitt Rivers museum visit
“Usually meet with other parents and kids at centers but we don’t go out on experiences like this.”
— Mother, Pitt Rivers museum visit

Who’s behind Oxplorers

Anna Thorne, Carol Lister, Lisa Fern, Beth Knighton, Fiona Brimson

“A group of people passionate about a healthy and striving Early Years system that is wider than the work related to it. Our role in the Lab has been to design and develop Oxplorers using our joint knowledge and understanding of how to increase social mobility by widening ownership, building stronger relationships and collective well being.”

Mission statement:

“A buddy network for professionals or people engaged with children to learn how to facilitate spaces in Oxford for any families to come together to Oxplore, experience and build memories.”


“An opportunity to create a more accessible Oxford for many!


One of the challenges in social mobility is related to the inequality in access of services and spaces in Oxford. This becomes most evident for hard to reach families that don't feel entitled to engage with services that exist and become vulnerable because of this.


This opportunity sets a foundation to create a more accessible Oxford for families and children under 5 in Oxford. A buddy framework for professionals to support hard to reach families to gain confidence by taking them to places in Oxford and creating memorable experiences that will increase social interaction and ownership of public and shared spaces. Becoming part of this buddy network can widen horizons for socially isolated families to connect and have somewhere to turn for support.

The activities around Oxford will stimulate the child's natural curiosity and joys of discovery and can enhance their wellbeing and responsibility for what's around them. By taking part in the multiple stories and mysteries around town they will also develop their language skills.

Bits and pieces are already happening around this but nothing is steadily positioned. A framework could create more consistency and evolve capacity over a longer period of time. It makes it easy for anyone to tap in, be guided and get access to a network that feels comfortable for them, no matter their background or ethnicity. This is a way to get people who are interested but not able to initiate this alone to take part.