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Supporting your students to succeed

There are many barriers standing in the way of disadvantaged students accessing the future they deserve. UK-wide charity The Brilliant Club is working with schools to address them.

There are many barriers standing in the way of disadvantaged students accessing the future they deserve. UK-wide charity The Brilliant Club is working with schools to address them.


These are challenging times for schools. Budgets are tight and school leaders are faced with tough immediate decisions about keeping children warm and making sure they’re fed, whilst also supporting their learning and longer-term opportunities. There is a need to find a balance between short-term solutions and long-term goals, as the futures of disadvantaged young people depend on opportunities they are offered at school.

The Education Policy Institute reported in February 2022 that the GCSE attainment gap between advantaged and less advantaged students has failed to improve over the last decade.Disadvantaged students are almost twice as likely to drop out of their A-Level course compared to non-disadvantaged peers; 11 times more likely to miss out on accessing university; and, according to the Office for Students, twice as likely to drop out of their undergraduate course in the first year. Perhaps most shockingly, Teach First research published in August this year showed that disadvantaged pupils are more likely to end up out of sustained work or education (33%) than they are to go to university (27%).

This inequality around access to life-changing education is fundamentally unfair. Graduates from the most competitive universities are more likely to access professional careers, have higher rates of life satisfaction and on average they will earn £10,000 more per year than their peers.

Supporting less advantaged students

At The Brilliant Club, we mobilise the PhD community to support disadvantaged students to access the most competitive universities and succeed when they get there. We’ve designed programmes to tackle the key barriers that prevent young people progressing to and succeeding in higher education.

Our Scholars Programme gives students the opportunity to learn beyond the curriculum and build confidence in university-style learning, and we raise attainment through our curriculum-aligned Brilliant Tutoring Programme. We support students to make the transition from school to university through our Join the Dots programme and work closely with parents and carers in local communities to tackle barriers to education in their local areas through Parent Power. Between 2021-26, we will work with 100,000 students through our flagship Scholars Programme and support 11,000 undergraduates to transition and succeed at university.

Inspiring young learners beyond the curriculum

The Scholars Programme supports students aged 8-18 to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to progress to the most competitive universities. We train our PhD tutors to deliver The Scholars Programme in our partner schools across the UK and share their subject knowledge and passion for learning with small groups of students. The programme is bookended by Launch and Graduation Events, delivered in collaboration with our university partners across the country.

Over the past few weeks, students have been attending their Launch events at universities across the country to begin their Scholars Programme journey. We’ve heard wonderful stories from students who’ve told us “[The visit] opened up another option for me” and “I learned lots of new things today, as well as having an experience of university life.” One teacher accompanying their students at the event said “Students loved the campus tour. Getting into the thick of it allowed them to feel ‘at home’. A few have said they’re desperate to come here!”

For the sixth year running, an independent evaluation carried out by UCAS has shown that Scholars Programme graduates are statistically significantly more likely to apply to and progress to a competitive university than students from similar backgrounds.

Schools can sign up to The Scholars Programme in the Summer term by enquiring through our website or emailing us.

Boosting confidence, raising attainment

We support students’ learning through our Brilliant Tutoring Programme. Our programme offers Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 courses in core subjects. The programme has been designed in collaboration with curriculum experts, and boosts confidence, attainment, knowledge and skills.

To deliver the programme, we utilise the subject expertise and passion of PhD researchers and Master’s students. Our Brilliant Tutoring Programme supports tutors to develop their pedagogy and teaching practices so that students benefit from and are inspired by their tutorials. 

This year, schools have access to the National Tutoring Programme grant which they can use to support the cost of tutoring. This amount will vary per school and we advise schools to check government guidance and speak to their finance team to understand the amount of funding available.

Spaces on the programme are still available for the Spring and Summer terms. To make an enquiry, email us.

Supporting successful transitions

Join the Dots is a national transition programme which supports students from the end of their time at school or college and through their first term at university. 

Join the Dots is targeted at students who are most likely to face barriers in making a successful transition to university, and who are at risk of missing out on the lifechanging opportunities that come from successfully earning a degree from a competitive university. A coach supports students in their first term at university through coaching (1-1 and peer group) and provides a link for students between their school or college and their university’s support systems.

The pilot year of Join the Dots is currently underway. To register your interest in year two of the programme which will be free of charge for schools and colleges, get in touch today.

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