Twickenham School spoke to MP Sir Vince Cable about the progress of Year 10 and 11 students who are part of The Scholars Programme.

The programme is a prestigious national scheme which gives school pupils an opportunity to experience university-style learning.

The programme recruits, trains and places PhD researchers in non-selective state schools to deliver university-style tutorials based on their own research to small groups of pupils.

The pupils Vince Cable met with on Monday, September 10 studied a course entitled Understanding Children, Childhood and Society with their tutor Utsa Mukherjee from Royal Holloway, University of London.

As part of the programme, the pupils visited two highly-selective universities, where they have received information, advice and guidance about university life and making a successful university application.

The programme is run by The Brilliant Club, an award-winning charity whose aim is increase the number of pupils from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities.

An independent evaluation by UCAS showed that nearly 60 percent of pupils who complete the programme go on to attend a highly-selective university.

For pupils on the programme who were eligible for free school meals, 54 per cent progressed to a highly-selective university, compared to a national rate of 12 per cent

Vince Cable said: “I was extremely impressed by the young people I met at Twickenham School today. They are very bright and had some great insights.

“The biggest barrier for people in local state schools going to the top universities is belief. They have the talent and the intelligence, and they are clearly well taught.

“For some of them, like me, they will be the first people in their family to go to university, and so programmes like this are fantastic at breaking down barriers.”

Lead Teacher, Kate Thackeray, said: “I was delighted to meet with Vince Cable and show him the work pupils are doing in The Scholars Programme. I’m proud of the achievements of our pupils who are participating and am excited to see how their participation inspires their study and university choices.”

Dr Chris Wilson, CEO of The Brilliant Club said: “In Britain today, there’s an entrenched link between a young person’s background and their chance of education success. The Scholars Programme helps pupils develop the knowledge and skills necessary to fulfil their academic potential and secure places at highly-selective universities.

“We’re really grateful to Vince Cable for taking time to come and see the great work that our PhD tutors and partner schools are doing, and the amazing things pupils are achieving.”