'I was gripped' - School students produce PhD-level research papers

Students at Northgate High School celebrate their success

Brilliant Club students at Northgate High School 'graduate' after completing their 2000-word research papers - Credit: Northgate High School

Students at a Norfolk high school are celebrating their success after producing PhD level research papers on genetic engineering and the future of food production. 

Dereham's Northgate High School said it was “very proud” to hold a graduation event for their Brilliant Club on Wednesday May 5.

The club - comprising a small group of Year 9 students at the school - have been following the Brilliant Club course in partnership with the John Innes Centre at UEA and the University of Cambridge.

The course was established to increase the number of pupils from underrepresented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities. Through the course’s Scholars Programme, PhD researchers join students at non-selective state schools across the UK to help them develop their skills, knowledge and confidence for applying for university. 

During the pandemic, the students have worked throughout lockdown on a project entitled 'Feeding a Hungry Planet: How Plant Science Can Help Provide for a Growing Global Population' and each produced their own 2000-word paper, entitled 'Could, and should, genetic engineering of plants be used to help provide sustainable resources to society?', based on their tutor's work.


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The project, which was delivered remotely by The Scholars Programme, has allowed the students to develop their academic research and essay writing skills, as well as adapting and developing their communication skills to enable them to engage with the programme in an online setting.

Students at Northgate High School

Brilliant Club students at Northgate High School 'graduate' after completing their 2000-word research papers - Credit: Northgate High School

At a graduation event, the students were awarded with certificates by the Heads of School to commemorate their hard work.

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Two of the students involved, Milo and Joschka achieved firsts for their work.

Mrs Beasley, who coordinated the programme, said: “The students displayed resilience, commitment and determination to complete their studies during very challenging circumstances and we are very proud of every one of them”.

This is the third year Northgate has had students involved in the initiative. 

Milo, who achieved a first, said: “At the beginning, I thought it would be difficult to write a 2000 word research essay, along with all my school work in lockdown, but I decided to go to the first tutorial and I was gripped."

He added: “The programme has given me the opportunity to learn from someone with high level knowledge and learn more about what is expected from university level writing. It has also helped me realise my love for Biology!” 

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