A small group of Year 9 students have been following the Brilliant Club course throughout this year, in partnership with John Innes Centre, UEA and University of Cambridge.

The project, which is delivered by The Scholars Programme, has allowed the students to develop their academic research and essay writing skills. It also encourages students to consider university as an option for the future. It involves tutorials with a PhD research student, writing a challenging final assignment, which is marked using university-style grading, and a visit to a university.

Blake, one of the Year 9s who took part in the programme, explains what the process was like, including the very special graduation day.

Our Study:

‘The Brilliant Club is an extracurricular activity in which students study a topic and write a university style thesis based on their research and several sessions spent with a tutor. This year, we were studying how the structure and morphology of the English landscape has changed since the mediaeval times. Over the course of 7 weeks, we studied social, environmental and economic factors of mediaeval life and the mediaeval landscape. We then compiled this information into an essay which was then marked by Tom, our tutor. I think the most challenging part of the Brilliant Club experience for me was compiling all of my knowledge into a formal essay. It was difficult because every single factor of SPAG, presentation and facts had to be correct to achieve maximum marks. I think it was a great learning experience, not only because it educates you on non-curricular ‘subjects’, but because it is a challenge, and challenges are what push you to try your hardest and perform your best.’

Graduation Day:

‘We arrived at Fitzwilliam College at around 1:30pm and got off the coach after a sweltering 2-hour journey. We were all very excited to be visiting and to celebrate our achievements and efforts. Fitzwilliam College is one of the 31 colleges that make up Cambridge University. When we were all ready and off the coach, we were let in and were around an hour early, so we took a wander through the entrance of Fitzwilliam. The day began at 2:30pm, and we were introduced to the three other schools that would be joining us at the graduation. We were given an overview of the Brilliant Club, Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and the activities the day would contain. Some students of Fitzwilliam then did a Q+A and answered questions about the college, personal life, loans/paying for Cambridge and workload.

We then had a tour of Fitzwilliam and took in the amazing greenery and structures that the college had to offer. Then it was time for the Graduation Ceremony. School by school, we were all called up onto the stage and received our certificates and a big round of applause from everyone. It was an amazing experience and I’m so glad we got to celebrate our hard work!’

Well done to everyone who took part in the programme, completing this alongside their normal school lessons and homework, in particular to Isma-Daisy who gained a 1st and Blake and Dominic who gained a 2.1.