This term we have re-started our work with the Brilliant club or Scholars Program.
This is a half-term programme that involves a visit to a highly selective university (Durham), a series of tutorials (one at the university) and five in school from a PHD student. Students are required to research, plan and write a 2000 word ‘university style’ essay based on their tutor’s area of expertise.
For our students, this was about exploring dystopian fiction and its relevance to real-world technology. Students handed in a draft of their assignment, for individual feedback from their tutor, before Christmas and then had to submit their final assignment in early January (8/1/19) via the Virtual Learning Environment. The programme has always had a significant impact on our young people. One of its real strengths is that it is self-evaluating. Start and end surveys with the students are carried out and progress is tracked in core subjects over this time as well. For the first time, skills and attitudes are also being tracked. To get the most from this programme, we always insist students apply for a place via a letter of application. We feel this is important (places are expensive, at £200 per student) and always guarantees a better level of engagement and enthusiasm for the project.
We also always request that we have a PHD student delivering on his or her own area of interest; we have found that they are usually more enthusiastic than those delivering a pre-planned unit of work. An important part of the program is that at least 50% of students have to be in a certain IDAQI code or pupil premium. We fund these six places from pupil premium and the rest from our More able budget. Based on our experience over the past six years, we feel the most effective year to run this is in Y9. We have also tried 10, 7 and even Y6 with our primary school but the impact is usually greatest with Y9. We are now looking forward to the graduation ceremony (also at Durham) which parents get to attend.
Gatsby Benchmark 3 – Addressing the needs of each pupil
Gatsby Benchmark 4 – Linking curriculum to careers – English Literature
Gatsby Benchmark 7 – Encounters with higher education
12 students in Year 9. We run this every year and offer it on an application basis. This is open to anyone we feel has the potential to attend a highly selective university. It was offered to 35 students out of 108 and 13 applied. We took all 13 this year.