Year 12 pupils excel on the Scholars Programme

Year 12 pupils visit the University of Oxford and graduate the Scholars Programme with 2:1s or Firsts.

We are very proud of our recent cohort of sixth form pupils who achieved top marks on the Scholars Programme. They celebrated the end of the programme with a visit to the University of Oxford. 

Amy reflects on the trip and programme: 


I took part in a prestigious programme called ‘The Scholars Programme’ which is organised by the Brilliant Club, an amazing charity with a headstrong purpose of providing all students with equal opportunities. Without the school, I never would have thought that I would be able to partake in such a programme.  

The programme aims to prepare students for university, whether that be through elevating their writing skills, or getting used to the somewhat formidable prospect of being talked at in lectures. Our tutor, Claudia Favero, was so incredibly supportive, and ensured that we all felt capable and ready to tackle our final assignment. We received weekly lessons from our PhD tutor on the Italian Renaissance, exploring a multitude of characters from that period of time. From Leonardo da Vinci to Isabella d’Este, we truly received a meaningful insight to the intricacies of the Renaissance.

At the end of the programme, we had to complete a final assignment. Our final assignment was a 2500 word essay, focusing on one or two people to fully explore and analyse the depth of the Renaissance and its various aspects, including its development in science, art, and religion. We first completed a rough draft in which we received comprehensive feedback from our PhD tutor. After that, we could use the feedback to further improve our assignments, and our PhD tutor was always more than happy to help.

To my surprise, I ended up receiving a 1st on my essay, which is the highest mark you can get. I never would have been able to receive this mark without the support of Claudia, and I have quite clearly seen the improvement in my writing, whether that be through the use of elevated vocabulary or the depth of analysis I can now display through my words.

Claudia did not only teach us about the Renaissance, she also taught us how to write at an excellent undergraduate level by teaching us how to Harvard reference, and how to analyse the credibility of sources. This programme most definitely helped university seem less intimidating, and also bridged the gap between the two institutions of sixth form and university.  

At the end of it all, we received the opportunity to visit the University of Oxford for our graduation event. The university was beautiful, from its architecture to its community, the university was simply spectacular. On the day, we received a tour of one of the colleges, and were able to visit the common room, the library, and even able to have lunch in the dining hall. This experience was lovely, as it gave us the opportunity to imagine ourselves there in the future, and what it would be like to study at the university.  

Nadia reflects on the trip and programme: 


The Brilliant Clubs Scholar’s programme was the very first insight I had with the structure and marking of a university level essay. It provided me with a taster into the requirements of further education and whether I was suited for long comprehensive essays. 

This highly competitive programme was offered to around 14 pupils as a useful way to gain work experience and develop our cv and make their university application stand out. The opportunities provided to me through the programme led to me cultivating and mastering essential skills required in education but also the world of work including referencing 

Important question, what do Machiavelli, Leonardo Da Vinci and Christopher Columbus have in common? Let me answer that for you since I had to research this in great detail. They were key individuals in revolutionising and defining the renaissance as a period of human history known for political, cultural and economic rebirth. At Ark St Albans Academy we studied the Italian renaissance and to what extent was it characterised by beauty, genius and revolution. With the guidance and support of our PHD tutor Claudia pupils in the group were able to receive 1st and 2:1 which are some of the top grades accessible.

Having graduated from the programme, my fellow peers and I were granted the exciting opportunity in visiting the University of Oxford for the graduation ceremony. We visited Hertford College and were treated very well by students at the college who gave us a tour and more than happy to answer our questions. We received a speech from the lord mayor who was a Muslim woman, a role model for us all. Overall, the experience was insightful teaching me about the history surrounding the renaissance and how it remains significant in the world, whilst also giving me the opportunity to visit the University of Oxford and help me to decide whether I would be suited for that academic setting.