Some have parents that have never been to university, others did not consider it to be a serious option despite their academic prowess.

But by the time they completed the Brilliant Club’s six-week programme, our Year 11 students realised they were all capable and worthy of securing an offer from some of the country’s best universities.

And to complete the experience, the pupils, many of whom secured the equivalent of a 1st, enjoyed a ‘graduation ceremony’ at Reading University.

This is the first year that the initiative has been introduced at Wykham Park Academy and was overseen by science teacher Corinna Randall.

She explained to the Banbury Guardian: ‘’This term 12 of our Year 11s have completed The Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme.

‘’The students spent a term researching and writing a degree-level, 2000 word essay on the subject of bio-technology and how we can use genetic engineering to grow crops to tackle world poverty.

‘’Six out of 12 of these students achieved a 1st and a graduation event was held at Reading University.

‘’I’m so genuinely pleased with how hard all the students worked and the programme has helped to grow their confidence in wanting to go to university.

‘’The level of knowledge that they were exposed to was undergrad level and the PhD tutor from Oxford University specialising in bio-technology who delivered the tutorials over six weeks said she was very impressed by the standard as at GCSE level most students would be aiming for a 2:2 or a 3rd.’’

Brilliant-Club students

The Brilliant Club is an award-winning university access charity that works with schools and universities across the UK.

The Scholars Programme recruits, trains and places doctoral and postdoctoral researchers in schools to deliver programmes of university-style tutorials, which are supplemented by two university trips.

Our students visited St Catherine’s College which is Oxford University’s youngest undergraduate college, and Reading University.

The aim is to increase the number of pupils from underrepresented backgrounds progressing to highly selective universities.

Brilliant-Club students with certificates

Caitlan, 16, from Banbury was one of the students who graduated with a 1st.

She said: ‘’I sit my GCSEs this year. The Brilliant Club was exciting and new and I hadn’t done anything like that before and it was really nice to get an insight into university as I do plan to go.

I’m one of five siblings and I will be the first to go to university.

Doing the Brilliant Club supported my view that going to university is the right thing for me to do.

I found it exciting to have this expert in her field telling us this new information that’s of university standard. I did feel I was being pushed and challenged mentally. I was really, really happy when I was given a first.’’

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