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Able and Ambitious at JCoSS

This year twenty-four of our Year 9 and 10 students have been taking part in the Brilliant Club, a programme aimed at developing the independent research skills of talented and academically able and ambitious students in the fields of STEM and Arts and Humanities.

The Scholars Programme, which is run by the educational charity called The Brilliant Club, is delivered by trained PhD tutors from a research university or institute, and involves two university trips and four in-school tutorials. The in-school tutorials take place over consecutive weeks and last for one hour each. The tutorials follow a course which has been designed by the PhD student and based on their own, cutting-edge research. These are designed to push the students to develop the academic skills they will need to secure places at highly selective universities. Students finish the course by writing a 2000 word assignment, which is marked using criteria from the Key Stage above their current level and students are then given a university-style grade (1st, 2.1 etc.), along with extensive feedback from their tutor to allow them to reflect on and improve their performance.  JCoSS students performed incredibly well in their assignments, with all twenty-four students achieving highly and completing their assignments and with ten students achieving a 1st for their final assignment!

The two University trips which are a Launch trip and a Graduation Ceremony trip are at the start and end of the Programme and each is to a different Russell Group University.  The Launch Trip this year was to St. Hugh’s College, Oxford and students had the opportunity to spend a day in the College learning about typical College and University life, having a tour of the campus and facilities and meeting with current students who could answer questions related to life at the University.  The day also involved a talk about admissions to the University and what highly selective Universities are looking for, meeting the PhD tutors, a study skills session and the first of the PhD tutorials.  Students have also now attended the Graduation Ceremony Trip at Clare College, Cambridge where they participated in further study skills sessions and reflected on their experiences, as well as having the opportunity to learn about the College system at Cambridge and enjoy a tour of the historic Clare College.  This trip culminated with the Graduation Ceremony where students were taught how a Graduation Ceremony works and they graduated from the Brilliant Club programme and received their certificates.

Josh, Year 9, who participated in the Brilliant Club 2016 said of the experience;

‘I am extremely happy that I was able to take part in the opportunity of the Brilliant Club, and it was an experience that I will never forget. What started with a nerve-racking essay and selection process ended with new knowledge, certificates and a trip to Clare College Cambridge to top it all off. On the launch trip, which was to St. Hugh’s College Oxford, we were assigned topics (either STEM or Arts and Humanities) and met our PhD tutors for the first time. Over the next few weeks our PhD tutors taught us and guided us through our courses, this culminated in a 2000 word assignment based on what we had learnt. A few weeks after this we had a feedback session where we looked at our results, and analysed how we could have improved, the final closing of our experience was a graduation ceremony at Cambridge University. Overall, my friends and I really enjoyed our experiences, our new understanding of what it’s like to be at University and our self-assurance and confidence in our work leading up to our GCSE’s. I would highly recommend this experience to anyone if they get the opportunity, it is really something not to miss out on and will greatly improve your confidence leading up to important exams, further education and University.’


Miss S Goldstein-Opasiak

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