Post by Stanislaw Piasecki (2018 cohort)
The Brilliant Club is an award-winning charity that collaborates with universities and schools in the UK. Its mission is to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly selective universities. The Brilliant Club does this by searching for PhD students and asking them to share their academic expertise with state schools. Statistics from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service prove that pupils who participate in Brilliant Club’s Scholars Programme are significantly more likely to apply to, receive an offer from and study at a highly-selective university.
My journey at the Brilliant Club started with a workshop organised at the University of Nottingham by members of this charity. Initially, I thought that this workshop would simply give me with information about teaching methods. However, their engagement and passion for what they did convinced me to apply for the position of a tutor. I wanted to gain teaching experience and I thought that this would be a great way of achieving this objective while doing something positive for society.
After a successful interview, I participated in a two days training weekend organised for all tutors at the Brilliant Club. This was an opportunity to meet more experienced tutors and ask them questions about their experiences. I also developed my teaching skills by participating in a wide variety of training sessions. For example, we were given information on various teaching techniques and how to engage our audience. We were also given specific advice concerning working with children.
Following the training weekend, the Brilliant Club organised an event at the University of Manchester where we met our pupils and their teachers for the first time. During this day, I delivered my first tutorial. My pupils were divided into 2 groups of six children each. I was teaching pupils at the Key Stage 2 level.
The topic of my tutorials was “What are Rights?”. I delivered the tutorial with the help of a handbook prepared by the University of Oxford. The topics of the tutorials were decided based on the tutors’ educational and professional background. I remember that when I was in school, no one really taught us about law and I thought that this could be an interesting and important topic for children, if presented in an engaging way.
After the initial tutorial, I delivered six other tutorials at the pupils’ state school. This was a challenging and rewarding experience. My objective was to increase their skills and make them believe in themselves. We had a lot of interesting discussions on topics such as human or criminal rights. What I enjoyed the most was hearing children’s opinions on those issues and exchanging ideas with them. At the end, they had to write an essay which I marked according to University criteria. They all worked hard and received great marks!
Overall, preparing for the tutorials was a lot of work but it was worth it. Of course, my pupils were very young and they do not have to apply to study at a university in the future. There are a lot of other choices they could make. However, I wanted to explain to them what studying at a university means, to teach them about a new topic and show them that they have the capacity to succeed.