Several VNET schools have recently participated in ‘The Scholars Programme’ provided by our partner, the Brilliant Club. The outcomes have been such that we thought it worthwhile to share them here.

The programme is designed to give pupils from non-selective state schools the unique opportunity to work with a PhD researcher to experience university style learning. It helps pupils develop the skills, knowledge and confidence to secure a place at a highly selective university or indeed to introduce the aspiration to go to University to students who may not otherwise think they have that opportunity.

The Scholars Programme from the view of the PhD Tutor

Anna-Grace Scullion is a PhD student in the department of American Studies at the UEA she led a Scholars Club Programme at Litcham School in Years 9 and 10.

“At Litcham School, I taught pupils from Years 9 and 10. I taught a course based on my research called “The Last of the Mohicans?” which considered the idea of the ‘Vanishing Indian’ in relation to Native American history, culture and literature and settler colonial theory. These topics were mostly new to the students and the course required them to consider complex ideas. They also had to develop and employ skills including literary analysis and academic research skills. The students’ final assignment was an analysis of an extract from the novel The Last of the Mohicans, in which they had to discuss the trope of the ‘Vanishing Indian’ with reference to ideas and contexts studied on the course.

The pupils’ launch trip took place at the University of Cambridge. I believe that the launch trip is an invaluable experience for students on The Scholars Programme, as it may well be the first (possibly only) time they gain an insight into the environment and day-to-day workings of a highly prestigious university. It also gives the pupils a taste of higher education and of the programme itself, and it often inspires and motivates the students not only to complete the course but also to apply to highly selective universities. Following the launch trip, the pupils participate in 6 in-school tutorials.

The course is challenging and places extra demands on pupils’ time, so they are required to hone their independent study skills and time management to be able to keep up with the course. The tutorials were generally stimulating and enjoyable for the pupils, as they were mostly discussion-focused. One of the most rewarding aspects of the course for me was to see students think in depth about new topics and express their ideas to each other, as there is not often time in the typical school day to allow pupils to think so freely or to question cultural narratives or tropes, as they were encouraged to do throughout the course.

I feel that this helped pupils gain confidence and develop further as independent learners. Both giving the pupils feedback on their final assignments and attending their graduation ceremonies were particularly gratifying moments, as it was a pleasure to read the students’ remarkable assignments and to be able to congratulate them on their efforts and success.”

The Scholars Programme from the view of David Glen from Litcham School

“We have been using the Brilliant Club now for three years, and have been very pleased with the responses from our students and their outcomes. We focus currently on KS3 and 4, but have had some groups at KS2.We choose our students carefully as we have found that only the highest ability students can get the most out of the programme… For this selection we combine test data and recommendations from the heads of English, maths and science.

We have always found the tutors have been very good indeed – going well beyond expectations – even once inviting two of our students to a conference in France! We took up this opportunity and the two students selected gained an enormous amount from the experience and the follow-up opportunities that came with it. I think this top-quality tutoring is the main strength of the programme and we haven’t been disappointed yet.

This programme has proved to be an excellent way of harnessing the benefits of mentoring carried out by university students.”

Special Offer to VNET Members

It is worth remembering that VNET has partnerships with a number of organisations that offer great services and programmes that other VNET members have found beneficial before. In this case, if you are interested in knowing more about the Scholars Programme, you find do so via this link.

If you are currently working with The Brilliant Club they will offer VNET members an early bird price for 20/21, for which you can contact them directly.

If you are a VNET member and you have not run the programme this academic year, The Brilliant Club have put together a special offer of £170 per pupil for the first 10 VNET schools to sign up. A cohort needs to be 12 pupils.

If you are interested, please enquire via the online enquiry form and The Brilliant Club will then be in touch to discuss the Programme and provide a unique sign up link (to get the discount then use the code VNET170.)