Primary students taking on university education

Young scholars at New Silksworth Academy.
Young scholars at New Silksworth Academy.
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Young academics at a Sunderland primary are stepping up into university education.

A group of bright spark students at New Silksworth Academy, Sunderland, are set to join The Brilliant Club, an education charity which aims to widen access to higher education with a university scholars programme.

I thought it was just a way to get us to do more work

Ryan Willis

The charity, which works with schools across the country, helps to stretch pupils academically by increasing their knowledge, skills and ambitions and encouraging them to think about studying at some of the UK’s top universities after leaving school.

New Silksworth Academy’s acting assistant headteacher, Joanne Beavers, said: “As a new academy this is first time we have taken part in The Brilliant Club programme, which we hope will help raise aspirations among some of our most academically gifted students.

“It is quite an undertaking for pupils to take part in the programme which will stretch their thinking and understanding of science, technology, engineering and mathematics beyond what they learn in the classroom.

“They will need to focus and challenge themselves academically, show their drive to succeed and that they possess a 100% willingness to learn.”

The Year 6 students taking part include Ryan Willis, Kenilee Howarth, Gracie-Jay Weaver, Esme Pearson, Libby Ellwood, Leah Sykes, Katie Corner, Luke Middleton, Rhys Marsh, Callum Campbell and Calum Armstrong.

They will each work with a PhD tutor over six tutorial sessions studying an element of STEM.

Pupils will then be tasked with producing a 1,000-word essay on their studies which will be marked by a university professor.

The students will also be given the opportunity to visit Durham University, take part in a seminar in one of the lecture theatres and learn about campus life and what it means to be a university student.

Student Ryan Willis, 11, said: “When I first heard about The Brilliant Club I thought it was just a way to get us to do extra work, but then I realised what a great opportunity it would be.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Durham University and experiencing what it would be like to be a real student there.”

After completing the seven week programme, all students will be invited to attend a graduation ceremony at Durham University where they will be presented with certificates in front of family and friends.