Richmond School pupils graduate from Brilliant Club

The Brilliant Club students during the Brilliant Club launch visit to St Chad’s, Durham University where they met with Alumna Ben Rainbow (pictured right). Students taking part were Ashleigh Fraser, Thomas Burgess-Mackay, Hannah Hodgson, Liam McCarthy, Roan Cappleman, Nick Chapman, Usha Rai and Cristina Vaidos (not pictured).

A group of students at Richmond Sixth Form College have graduated from the Brilliant Club, a charity which aims to widen the access for students from non-selective state schools to the UK’s top universities.

Eight year 12 students have completed a four-month study programme which culminated in them submitting a final assignment for assessment. 

The students enjoyed a launch trip to St Chad’s College, Durham University, which included a tour of the college with a current undergraduate, a visit to the cathedral, a study skills session and the students’ first tutorial with their PhD tutor, Hannah Martin from Northumbria University.

While at St Chad’s College, the students met with ex-student Ben Rainbow who is in his third year there studying computer science, who completed a similar Brilliant Club project when he was at Richmond School and Sixth Form College.

For the following six weeks, the students worked with Hannah on a project titled Riot, rebellion and the racialisation of disorder: rethinking traditional historical narratives.

Hannah visited the students four more times in college to deliver further university-style tutorials.

Hannah is a historian of race and migration in the North-East and is completing her doctorate at Northumbria University.

She specialises in the everyday experience of black, Asian and minority ethnic seafarers living and working in the port towns across the region

Hannah said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my placement at Richmond Sixth Form College.

“The students engaged with some very complex ideas and theoretical concepts and produced excellent final assignments which were of a standard I would expect from university undergraduate students.

“The students arrived at every tutorial with a genuine interest and engaged exceptionally with the material being taught.

“I am impressed by their drive and motivation to have been able to produce their final assignments amongst all of the current challenges we are facing.

“The students have demonstrated great academic potential throughout the Scholars Program and I wish them all the best for their futures”

Liam McCarthy, Brilliant Club graduate, said: “The Brilliant Club is an amazing opportunity. It is structured so anybody can follow along. All you have to do is put in some effort and you can achieve something brilliant.

“The subject was about Britain’s 1919 seaport riots. This is a very interesting topic with lots of contextual links to things I had never covered or considered to be connected, such as racial tensions and the First World War.

“I feel like this opportunity has really helped me prepare for university as the subjects I currently do, do not involve essay style writing.

“This is incredibly useful as I will be able to show evidence of performing these skills when applying for university.”

Sandra Johnson, assistant headteacher and co-ordinator of The Brilliant Club project, said: “This is another fantastic year for our students who have really applied themselves to the additional work required to successfully complete the Brilliant Club programme.

“I am especially proud of them as they were forced to complete the final elements of the project remotely, following the lockdown.

They all rose to the challenge and I really admire them for their determination and resilience in ensuring their work was completed and submitted on time, and to such a high standard.”