In the UK today, there is an entrenched link between a young person’s background and their access to higher education: only 1 in 50 of the most advantaged pupils will progress to a highly-selective university, compared to 1 in 4 of the most advantaged. Closing this access gap is key to improving social mobility and creating a fair, representative society.
The Brilliant Club was founded by two former classroom teachers who sought to address this challenge. We run two core programmes:
The Scholars Programme recruits and trains PhD researchers to design and deliver academic, research-based courses to pupils aged 10-18 through a series of university-style in-school tutorials. Pupils also visit two universities and receive tailored information, advice and guidance.
Researchers in Schools (RIS) is a unique teacher training route designed for PhD graduates which seeks to harness their skill set for the benefit of pupils and schools. RIS participants are supported to become excellent classroom teachers, as well as champions of university access, education research and subject expertise. Alongside their classroom teaching, RIS participants deliver Uni Pathways, a two-year university access intervention which is based on The Scholars Programme.
Our work has been evidenced to have a statistically significant impact on progression to highly-selective universities by an independent evaluation by the Universities and Colleges Application Service (UCAS). Analysis of the destinations of pupils who completed The Scholars Programme in 2015 and 2016 found that 55% progressed to a highly-selective university. This includes 54% of pupils eligible for free school meals, compared to a national rate of 12%. We also have a Research and Impact Department staffed by five researchers who work to understand the impact of our programmes and conduct research to further improve the efficacy of our work.
In 2016/17, we worked with 10,081 pupils in partnership with 605 non-selective state schools and 30 universities to improve university access for under-represented pupils.