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Year 8 pupils graduate from unique university access programme

Mary Hare School is celebrating the success of 26 students as they graduate from The Scholars Programme, a national university access programme. The graduation event took place at Keble College, University of Oxford, on 1st March 2023.

Our Year 8 students were encouraged to think and work independently across seven tutorials with a subject expert PhD researcher. During the programme, they learnt about Philosophy and Politics and then completed a challenging final essay which was given a university-level grade.

The Scholars Programme, run by UK-wide university access charity The Brilliant Club, supports students aged 8 to 18 to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence needed to progress to the country’s most competitive universities and succeed once there. The opportunity has brought together PhD researchers and students and  encourage young people to study innovative and inspiring topics. It has also been a great opportunity for the students to learn beyond the core curriculum and develop key skills for university and later in life, such as critical thinking.

Beyond their graduation, our pupils have lots more to look forward to because the programme has proven impact on university progression rates. For the fifth year running, independent UCAS evaluation has found that Scholars Programme graduates are almost twice as likely to progress to a competitive university compared with a group of students from similar backgrounds (44% vs. 28%).

Year 8 pupil, Maya, shares her experience
‘In early December, my school began their course of the Scholars Programme. We had the interesting topic of Post-War Prime Ministers, taught by our PhD tutor Dr Pinder. The topic was poignant because at the time Liz Truss and her mini-budget was all the nation could talk about!’

Head of Media Studies & Photography, Dr Kevin Robinson, says
‘The scholars programme has provided an academic framework that has inspired our students to believe that they could access higher education in one of the top universities in the UK. All of the students engaged enthusiastically in a demanding series of seminars and rose to the challenge of producing an extended assignment. They should all be very proud of their achievement.’

Susie Whigham, Interim CEO at The Brilliant Club, congratulated the pupils on their achievements.
'Congratulations to these outstanding students as they graduate from The Scholars Programme. They join a community of over 90,000 young people who have taken part in The Brilliant Club since 2011. Completing their final assignments was no doubt challenging, but it has shown that these students have a passion for learning and the knowledge to produce university-style work already. I hope they use these new skills throughout their education and continue their fantastic work.'

For more information about The Brilliant Club and The Scholars Programme, visit