Richmond Sixth Form College is celebrating the success of twelve students as they graduate from The Scholars Programme, a prestigious national university access programme run by education charity The Brilliant Club.

The hardworking Year 12 students produced challenging university-style essays exploring “Decolonisation and Decline: The ‘End of the British Empire”. They were encouraged to think and work independently across seven tutorials with a subject expert PhD researcher. During the programme, they learnt about the topic and then completed a challenging final essay which was given a university-level grade.

The Scholars Programme, run by UK-wide university access charity The Brilliant Club, supports students aged 8-18 to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to progress to the country’s most competitive universities and succeed once there.

By bringing together two communities – PhD researchers and students – who might otherwise never interact with each other, young people can study innovative and inspiring topics that very few people have ever covered. The Scholars Programme has enabled the Richmond students to learn beyond the core curriculum and helped them to develop key skills for university and later in life, such as critical thinking.

Katie Wade, Year 12 student, said: “The Brilliant Club opportunity has really helped me to understand more about university-style writing. I also learned a lot about research techniques, what sources you can use for your information and using references for your sources. I’ve always liked History but didn’t take it as an A-level, so it was nice to be able to continue this in some way – it has inspired me to do a History-based EPQ.”

Beyond their graduation, these students have lots more to look forward to because the programme has proven impact on university progression rates. For the fifth year running, independent UCAS evaluation has found that Scholars Programme graduates are almost twice as likely to progress to a competitive university compared with a group of students from similar backgrounds (44% vs. 28%).

Sandra Johnson, Assistant Headteacher who co-ordinates the Brilliant Club programme, added: “Thank you to Uni Connect (Future Hy) for their ongoing support for the Brilliant Club. Due to their generous sponsorship we have been able to offer the Brilliant Club to students for a number of years now and it has had such a positive impact on their self-confidence, and ultimately their destinations after sixth form.”

Susie Whigham, Interim CEO at The Brilliant Club, congratulated the pupils on their achievements, saying: “Congratulations to these outstanding students as they graduate from The Scholars Programme. They join a community of over 90,000 young people who have taken part in The Brilliant Club since 2011.

“Completing their final assignments was no doubt challenging, but it has shown that these students have a passion for learning and the knowledge to produce university-style work already. I hope they use these new skills throughout their education and continue their fantastic work.”