The Brilliant Club is an award-winning charity the aim of which is to increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly selective universities. It does this by mobilising the PhD community to share its academic expertise with state schools. The Brilliant Club was co-founded in 2011 as an after-school project at London Academy, Edgware. The founders, Jonathan Sobczyk and Simon Coyle, are both teachers who became involved in university access through their work in inner-city schools.
This grassroots project initially drew on the expertise and passion of PhD students to deliver academic enrichment programmes to small groups of pupils. Over the course of that programme, the number of pupils working towards five A*-A grades increased from 3 to 12 out of 19, with 15 going on to achieve at least five A*-As in their GCSE results. Today, many of those pupils are now university graduates, with degrees from LSE, UCL, Queen Mary University and Warwick University among others.
Over the past five years the charity has grown significantly. The Brilliant Club now serves more than 10,000 pupils across England and Wales, making it the largest university access programme for secondary schools in the UK.