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Claremont High School Academy

A new window to the universe 

Claremont students expand their horizons as part of a university initiative 

Dead stars, gravitational waves and a thousand-year-old university… It sounds like something from Philip Pullman’s fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, but it is, in fact, all part of an exciting new initiative led by The Brilliant Club, an award-winning charity working across the UK to support school students in accessing the most competitive universities.   

The Scholars Programme at Claremont High School, led by Ms Dixon, consists of fourteen Year 10 students who have taken part in weekly tutorials with a PhD student from Imperial College London. Together, they have worked towards a 2,000-word assignment on ‘The Echoes of Dead Stars: Gravitational Waves as a New Window to the Universe’.   

The PhD student shared not only his considerable knowledge of the subject, but also his passion for learning and provided a real insight into what it’s like to study at university. The Year 10 students, in turn, were stretched and challenged as they developed their academic skills.  

‘I built my confidence in terms of using sources and research,’ says Kanha Solanki. Pedram Abasi agrees: ‘We learnt how to summarise and condense information into accessible chunks.’ Adelina Grosu and Sylvia Delargy Crawley also found the tutorials beneficial: ‘We improved our research and debating skills and learnt how to do Harvard-style referencing and how to identify reliable sources.’  

Their studies and effort were clearly worthwhile… Sylvia and Kanha both achieved a first-class grade for their assignment, and their work will be published by The Brilliant Club as an example of best practice.   

A highlight of The Scholars Programme was attending a graduation ceremony in Oxford to celebrate the participants’ achievements. The event took place on 13th March 2024 in the impressive town hall, which certainly made an impact on Veera Mehta: ‘I have never felt so proud and rewarded for my accomplishments. It was truly a memorable experience and I would definitely do it again.’  

The day-trip to Oxford also included a tour of the historic and prestigious university, plus lunch in one of the ‘Great Halls’. It made a lasting impression on everyone. ‘From the library to the lecture hall to the Great Hall, Oxford was, in one word, unforgettable,’ says Kanha. ‘This educational excursion has been of unimaginable value – in the present and for the foreseeable future.’ Veera agrees: ‘The trip to Oxford was incredible. I got a taste of what my future could be like at university, and it got me thinking about my career choices and what I’d like to study. It ignited my desire to go to Oxford in the future.’  

Ms Dixon was delighted with the experience and had no doubt about its benefits for all involved: ‘This trip provided a wonderful opportunity for our students. They were given a taste of what it’s like to study at a world-renowned university like Oxford, and we hope this will encourage them to set their sights high in terms of post-school choices and their future lives. They developed many new skills during the university-style programme and the graduation ceremony was a fantastic way to celebrate their achievements.’