Brilliant Club

New research shows link between The Scholars Programme and GCSE attainment

30 Oct 2023

Data from the Higher Education Access Tracker (HEAT) has shown that Scholars Programme students have higher GCSE scores than Local Authority students with similar Key Stage 2 prior attainment.

The Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme gives students from non-selective state schools and colleges the opportunity to work with a PhD researcher to experience university-style learning. It helps students to develop the university knowledge, academic skills, and attainment to secure a place at a competitive university.

Using data from HEAT, we can compare the percentage of Scholars Programme students achieving a 9-5 in maths and English, with the percentage of Local Authority students achieving the same results. We have also accounted for prior attainment at Key Stage 2 to ensure we are comparing similar groups of students in the analysis.

The comparison shows that Scholars Programme students have higher GCSE scores than Local Authority students who have similar KS2 prior attainment. In the graphic below, you can see that students with average prior attainment were twice as likely to achieve a 9-5 in maths and English at GCSE after taking part in The Scholars Programme in Year 10:

We also know that Scholars Programme students show a significant improvement in attainment-related outcomes. For students who complete the programme, we consistently see improvements in academic self-efficacy (7% increase), critical thinking (27% increase), subject knowledge (23% increase) and written communication (24% increase).

You can read about this research in more detail in our research note.

Dr Anna Anthony, Co-Director, Higher Education Access Tracker, said:

“We are delighted to provide the data underpinning this research which shows a clear positive relationship between participation in The Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme and GCSE attainment. The analysis provides a solid foundation to improve our understanding of the impact of attainment-raising programmes such as the Scholars Programme and we look forward to continuing to work with The Brilliant Club to generate robust causal evidence for future cohorts.

These results would not be possible without the collaboration of the Department for Education who provide attainment outcomes for all HEAT member organisations to evaluate their interventions.”

Dr Lauren Bellaera, The Brilliant Club’s Chief Impact and Strategy Officer, said:

“We have known for many years of the impact that The Scholars Programme has on university progression, particularly to the most competitive universities. It’s an exciting moment for the charity to now see the positive connection that the programme has on attainment, which we also know to be one of the most significant barriers to progressing to higher education. We look forward to exploring these findings further in the coming years, as we expand the data set available and think about what this could mean for other forms of qualifications, such as A-Level. It’s been a pleasure to work with HEAT on this project, as well as with our peer reviewers, Dr Sonia Ilie, Dr Nina Jentl and Dr Konstantina Maragkou.”