Brilliant Club spurs Sheffield’s gifted students on

Birley Brilliant Club session
Birley Brilliant Club session
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Students from Birley Community College are graduating from a programme designed to help pupils with high academic ability to realise their potential.

The Brilliant Club is an organisation that places doctoral and post-doctoral researchers into schools to work with students in small groups. Students are helped to develop their knowledge and ambition to secure top university places.

Eleven students at Birley worked on the Scholars’ Programme with tutor Tamsyn Fraser over eight weeks, beginning with a visit to Sheffield University then continuing with tutorials at Birley.

Initially, the year nine and 10 students expressed apprehension about the course and its challenges, explained Diarmaid Casey, assistant head teacher, but he added: “Having completed the course students talk of having been ‘empowered’ by the experience. They feel their hard work and efforts can overcome any learning challenges. Many feel more confident in their own academic ability.

“Collectively students are proud of what they accomplished.

“They developed key skills like time management and independent learning.”

Student results are based on final 2,000 word assignments that they completed at home over Easter.

The subject they were given was reconstructing ancient diets using zooarchaeological techniques.

Work done by student Lauren Dart is to be placed in the Brilliant Club’s collective journal of outstanding work, which is a great achievement, said Mr Casey.

The course was designed to A-Level standard and students worked extra time to complete weekly homework. On Sunday, students gave a presentation at Birley Community College to 105 PhD students who may become club tutors.

As the Brilliant Club expands across the north it will use the school as a training centre.

In their presentation students tell how they embraced new experiences including their ‘first real essay crisis’

For most, the university visit was their first, and allowed them to feel the difference in learning atmosphere compared to school.

Difficulties in their learning had been overcome through mutual support of each other, alongside learning independently, they said.

Next week those students who did the course will go to Manchester University for a graduation event, and a new cohort will begin the programme at Birley, this time from years seven and eight.

This new group will work towards high GCSE standard, The older students will help them as mentors.

A thank you lunch was organised by students for Tamsyn Fraser. They were joined by associate headteacher at Birley, Gina Newton, who passed on her thanks to the tutor for her time and work.

Mr Casey added: “Students have said that they have broader horizons after Brilliant Club and will aspire towards top universities like Sheffield, Manchester or Cambridge and Oxford.

“As a school we are really proud of them and mentor Jane Atkin who worked with them.”