Researchers in Schools

The Researchers in Schools (RIS) programme is a route into teaching designed specifically for PhD graduates.

What does the Researchers in Schools programme offer?

RIS is set up to allow our participants to optimise the use of their subject expertise and knowledge of research in non-selective secondary schools to maximise their positive impact on their pupils.

Our participants complete their training year and the early stages of their teaching career with our support.


Since the RIS programme began in 2014 we have had 382 participants working in 214 schools. These participants and the staff at RIS have been consistently working towards achieving the three RIS aims:

  • To increase and disseminate subject expertise
  • To promote education research
  • To champion university access

As with all Brilliant Club programmes, we constantly monitor our impact.

You can find out more about the impact RIS participants are making in their schools via the button below.

      Research Leader in Education Award

      In addition to completing the roles and responsibilities of a trainee or early career teacher, RIS participants also complete the Research Leader in Education award. This comprises a series of projects spread over the course of the programme that combine their teaching and research skills. This is designed to ensure that participants are well equipped to deploy their knowledge and skills for the benefit of pupils and schools.

      Here is an outline of what the participants will be working on in the academic year 2021-22.

      Year One: Uni Pathways (2021 cohort)

      uni pathways logo

        Uni Pathways Uni Pathways is based on The Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme model; data shows pupils completing these courses are significantly more likely to apply to, receive an offer from and progress to a highly-selective university. Participants deliver Uni Pathways: a university-style intervention for high-potential Year 9 students to improve their understanding of university and high-level academic study. Participants design and deliver seven tutorials based on their PhD thesis and pupils write a final assignment which is graded using university grades.

        Year 2: Education Research Project (2020 cohort)

        The participants will create a research-informed intervention or improvement project with a group of pupils tailored to the context of the school. This module is run in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University. Participants complete the ‘Research and Development in Educational Contexts’ module which is worth 30 master’s credits.

        Participants will align their research with departmental and school priorities in one of the following focus areas: improving pedagogy using evidence-informed practice; widening university access; curriculum development or subjectspecific exam intervention.

        Years One and Two: Participant Identified Activity (2020 and 2021 cohorts)

        In Years 1 and 2 of the programme participants deliver an activity specifically designed to combine their expertise and an area of school need. Activities that previous cohorts have led include leading on the delivery of GCSE Astronomy, running a coding club, holding Oxbridge interview preparation and practice sessions and delivering LGBTQ+ awareness assemblies.

        Year Three (2019 cohort)

        In their third year of the programme participants roll-out an evaluated version of their second-year project to a wider number of pupils, deliver CPD and share their research evaluation findings with colleagues. They are supported to do this by our team and through completing the OLEVI Outstanding Leadership in Education Award. This is run in partnership with the teacher training provider OLEVI, and participants develop their leadership skills.

        RIS Alumni

        The majority of our participants stay teaching in non-selective state schools after completing the programme, many with leadership roles in their subject department or across the whole school, including leading extra-curricular activities or improvement initiatives. Our alumni network provides them with access to opportunities to continue achieving the RIS aims.

        • 94% of participants who complete the programme remain in teaching.
        • 45% of RIS alumni have a leadership role in their school.

        Getting into teaching

        The RIS 2021 cohort is our final group of participants and we will sadly not be recruiting for any future trainees.

        If you are a PhD researcher who is interested in getting into teaching and were hoping to train through RIS, here is some information on alternatives and commonly asked questions.

        If you have any further questions, then please do contact us at

        How can I become a qualified teacher?

        There are several routes into teaching, which are laid out here:

        How can I fund my teacher training?

        You may be eligible for a bursary.

        More information on the amounts and details of eligibility can be found here:

        Additionally, some training route options will pay you a salary in line with the national standardised payment scale for unqualified teachers. The amounts vary by location and can be found here:

        What qualifications do I need?

        In addition to your degree, you would be required to have level 4s or Cs in GCSE English, Maths and Science (primary teaching only).

        If you studied outside of England and have equivalent qualifications, these also fulfil the qualification requirements.

        More information on international equivalency can be found here:

        Do I need to have experience of teaching in a school to be able to train?

        School experience is not a requirement for undergoing teacher training. It is a valuable opportunity to get an insight to the profession and is highly recommended. Guidance on how to arrange school experience can be found in the following links:

        General info: