What is The Brilliant Club?

Helen Parker, a Ph.D student with Proteus, is involved with The Brilliant Club. Here, she describes her work with them.


“The Brilliant Club is an award-winning charity that exists to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. We do this by mobilising the PhD community to share its academic expertise with state schools.”

– Front page statement from The Brilliant Club website

The Brilliant Club logo


“My involvement with The Brilliant Club began with an email from Kirsty Ross, the Outreach Officer for OPTIMA CDT, at the beginning of November last year. At the time, The Brilliant Club were operating exclusively in England and Wales. She was invited to a meeting between the Widening Access team at Strathclyde, Glasgow City Council and The Brilliant Club about running a pilot in Scotland, specifically Glasgow. As a result, Kirsty was asked to identify strong PhD candidates for the programme so she emailed to all OPTIMA students with a link to The Brilliant Club’s website and asked for any interested students to apply. Following an intense interview, myself and Adeel Shafi were fortunate enough to be chosen to tutor the first cohorts of Scottish pupils.


Helen and Adeel
Helen and Adeel on site for their training


The Brilliant Club expects a lot from the PhD researchers who work with them. We are required to design a 5 week course and produce a supporting handbook based on our own research. This course is taught to two groups of 6 S2 pupils (13/14yo). A mandatory training weekend in Sheffield gathered all of the PhD researchers in the North of England and Scotland and equipped us with the tools required to successfully disseminate our research to willing 13 year olds!

The training weekend was run in the style of a school with lessons in classrooms and electives to take. Some of the themes covered were:

  • Pedagogy – How to ask questions
  • Why do children from lower income households and state funded schools have a significantly lower incidence of attending highly selective Universities then their privately educated counterparts?
  • Pedagogy – How to successfully enable useful discussion between peers
  • How to design a course
  • How to encourage pupils to participate

After the training weekend, we were given a couple of weeks to produce and submit our course handbooks to them for printing and binding. Tutorials started a few weeks after that.”


Read Helen’s blog, describing her experiences as she carries out each tutorial: The Brilliant Blog

Visit the official website: www.thebrilliantclub.org

Follow The Brilliant Club on Twitter: @BrilliantClub