I have currently completed a summer placement with the Brilliant Club which I found to be an exceptionally rewarding role. As part of the Brilliant Club I was making a difference to pupil’s lives in demonstrating that University was within their reach, despite their socio-economic status. I find the statistics (that only 2% of children eligible for free school meals go to University, in comparison to 96% of privately educated children) to be extremely alarming, and therefore I appreciated the opportunity to work with the Brilliant Club with an overall aim to change the socio-economic inequality within Higher Education participation.
I was delighted when I was informed that I had successfully been appointed as a Brilliant Club Tutor and was very excited to attend the weekend of training to prepare myself for my role. The training provides you with everything you need in order to create and teach a module to a set of secondary school pupils, with it allowing me to develop my teaching knowledge and my teaching methods. I was appointed with a set of Year 9 pupils at Barr Beacon Secondary School and designed a module based upon my PhD (investigating why some Cystic Fibrosis patients engage in risky health behaviours). Therefore I found the opportunity to work with the Brilliant Club to be a fantastic way to disseminate my research to an audience I would not necessarily have had access to. This was very beneficial towards my research with pupils providing their own opinions on why adolescents engage in such behaviours, and potential interventions that could be used in an attempt to prevent the initiation and aid the cessation of these behaviours within the adolescent population.
The module I designed involved students engaging in “University style learning” which encouraged pupils to develop an innovative approach to the material, whilst drawing independent conclusions and providing evidence of being critical. Prior to me starting my role as a Brilliant Club Tutor I delivered a presentation at Barr Beacon School about the module I would be teaching. Pupils then had to apply to be part of the Brilliant Club. This proved to be very effective with all my pupils showing enthusiasm towards the module as they wanted to be involved. All the teaching took place at Barr Beacon School, except for the first week which took place at the University of Warwick, providing pupils with the opportunity to see what a University is really like. Pupils also got to see the University of Manchester when they attended their graduation trip.
The experience of being a Brilliant Club Tutor was very enjoyable; I received a large amount of support from both the Brilliant Club and the lead teacher at Barr Beacon Secondary School to ensure that my placement was a success. I was very pleased with my pupils grades for their final assignments which involved students completing a group presentation and then an individual essay (both designed and marked by myself), with four pupils receiving a 1st, seven pupils receiving a 2:1 and one pupil receiving a 2:2. I was extremely proud when one of my pupil’s final assignment was chosen to be published within the Brilliant Club’s journal – “The Scholar”. This was a fantastic achievement for the pupil, but also for myself to say that at such an early stage in my career I have supervised a pupil and managed to get their work published within an open access journal.
Overall I have found my role as a Brilliant Club Tutor to be extremely beneficial to my career in disseminating my research and developing my teaching ability, but also I believe I have made a real difference to pupils lives and hopefully inspired them to follow their ambitions. The Brilliant Club demonstrated to my pupils that University is not something that is isolated to the “elite”, it is a place for all pupils who are high performers. I would definitely recommend the Brilliant Club to any PhD student, I am sure you would find it to also be an exceptionally enjoyable and rewarding role!
Rebecca Keyte is a PhD researcher at Birmingham City University researching in the field of Health Psychology.
The PGR Studio have been working closely with The Brilliant Club to recruit and train BCU PhD students and postdoctoral researchers as Brilliant Club tutors. We currently run two recruitment events a year. More information on The Brilliant Club can be found here.