A ‘Brilliant’ initiative is giving Hartlepool youngsters the chance to get a taste of university life.
Year 9 and 10 students at Dyke House Sports & Technology College will work closely with Durham University as part of the national Brilliant Club programme.
They will have to submit 1,500-word assignments to be marked at GCSE level and will receive feedback in university-style format to help them get a feel for life in higher education.
A number of Year 7 and Year 8 students have already graduated from The Brilliant Club before half term when they were handed certificates in front of parents and carers at Durham University.
Caitlyn Collins and Sam Brown, from Year 8, and Jessica Young and Charlotte Marshall, from Year 7, achieved distinctions for effort and outstanding attainment.
Dyke House’s aspirations co-ordinator, Sally Holt, said: “It was wonderful to celebrate all the scholars’ work and we were immensely proud of all they achieved last term.
“We look forward to continuing to see their excellence in both the classroom and all they apply themselves to.
“This term we commence the Brilliant Club programme with our Year 9 and 10 students and look forward to supporting them as they work towards completing their programme.”
Brilliant Club students have weekly tutorial sessions to gain an insight into higher education with help from PhD tutors.
Miss Holt said: “The Brilliant Club has allowed our scholars the opportunity to explore new topics and subjects outside of the curriculum, developing a new-found understanding and skillset.
“The chance to take part in high level, academic discussion is a cornerstone of The Brilliant Club Programme, ensuring scholars not only achieve top grades in exams, but develop a genuine love of learning. We are immensely proud that our students have gained such an insight into a topic currently researched by their PhD tutor.”
Set up in 2011, The Brilliant Club aimed to widen access to highly-selective universities for under-represented groups by mobilising researchers to bring their academic expertise into state schools.
It currently works with more than 7,000 pupils and 300 schools per year.
Leanne Adamson, the North East and North West director for the programme, said: “It was great to see the pupils from Dyke House College collect their certificates at the end of the programme.
“We hope that the academic programme and the opportunity to visit a highly selective university encourages the pupils to think about whether higher education might be for them one day.”