The Scholars Programme provides Key Stage 5 students with an inspiring experience of university-style learning beyond the curriculum, through seven tutorials taught by a PhD tutor and a trip to a competitive university.

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The Scholars Programme gives students from non-selective sixth forms and colleges the opportunity to work with a PhD researcher to develop key academic skills and experience university-style learning, in preparation for successful applications and transitions to higher education.  

On the programme, students in Year 12 undertake a challenging university-style course and develop the research and academic writing skills to excel at university. A placement consists of fourteen students, taught in two groups of seven, allowing students to experience the small class sizes at competitive universities. Students are taught by a PhD tutor, who will share their subject knowledge and expertise, helping students develop the knowledge, skills, and confidence to secure a place at a competitive university.

The programme is structured around seven tutorials where students will develop their subject knowledge and critical thinking skills through independent research tasks and group work. The students work towards completing a challenging final assignment of 2,500 words, which is marked and moderated using university grades. At the end of the programmes, students are invited to a Graduation Event at one of our competitive university partners, where students further develop their knowledge of university and celebrate their achievements on the programme. 

As a university access charity, we work with the students who most benefit from the support of our programmes. We require that at least 55% of the students registered on the programme meet at least one of the following criteria:  

  • Eligible for Pupil Premium in Year 11  
  • No parental history of higher education 
  • Deprivation according to postcode: IDACI 1-4.  

What does The Scholars Programme offer students? 

  • Students will have the opportunity to develop independent learning and academic skills such as critical thinking and referencing to aid the transition to university. 
  • The final assignment provides a great starting point for their Extended Project Qualification and developing students’ academic writing and research skills.  
  • Students will gain experiences of research projects, supra-curricular learning and passion for their subject to support university applications. 
  • Through the Graduation Event at a competitive university, students will learn more about life and learning at university, meet current undergraduate students and tour a university campus. 

What the programme offers Sixth Forms and Colleges

  • Develop your enrichment offering for mid/high-attainers and focus on more competitive universities.  
  • Positively impact university progression – Year 12 students who complete The Scholars Programme are statistically significantly more likely to apply to a competitive university than students from a similar background, and also progress to these universities at a higher rate. 
  • Receive a robust impact report showcasing progress towards national education targets and articulated to meet statutory regulations for Gatsby Benchmarks and Ofsted. 
    Year 12 students who complete The Scholars Programme are statistically significantly more likely to apply to a competitive university than students from similar backgrounds, and as a result they also progress at a higher rate – UCAS Evaluation 2023-24

    What do Key Stage 5 students learn? 

    Our Key Stage 5 courses are designed by our PhD tutors and based on their own unique area of research. Throughout the series of tutorials, tutors share both their research expertise and passion for their subject, inspiring future generations of researchers.  

    Click on each title to find out more about the course

    What happens after the programme?

    After running The Scholars Programme in Year 12, we recommend sixth forms and colleges sign up for our Year 13 transition programme, Join the Dots. Students will take part in a series of university preparation activities, delivered through in-school resources and by The Brilliant Club. 

    On results day, students are matched with a PhD Coach from their university if they are attending one of The Brilliant Club’s partner universities. Each PhD Coach supports up to eight students and works together with each student’s sixth forms or college to support them throughout the six-month transition programme.   

    We are also building a network of Brilliant Club Scholars to represent our alumni in our wider community. Students can sign up to our Friends of the Brilliant Club network or sign up to become ambassadors here.

    Looking for Key Stage 2 or Key Stage 3/4 information?

    We learnt a lot about essay writing and referencing and things I had very little exposure to. That really helped when I started at university because I knew what the format of an essay should be, and how and why we need to reference, and a lot of that groundwork was established when I was doing The Scholars Programme.

    It's a fantastic opportunity for students to experience university style learning, especially for those thinking about their transition when they get to Year 13. The programme is aspirational and motivational for our students whose parents and siblings haven't been to university.

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