A GROUP of talented students from a Flintshire high school gained an award and an insight into university learning after participating in an online tutoring programme with a PhD student.

Nine Ysgol Treffynnon more able and talented (MAT) students from Year 9, who are amongst those with the top expected grades in their year group, each achieved a Seren Foundation Award for taking part in the initiative which is run in conjunction with The Brilliant Club, an organisation that aims to support less advantaged students to develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to progress to the most competitive universities.

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The students attended three one-hour online lecture style tutorials delivered by Hamza Ali, a PhD student from Nottingham University, examining the subject of photochemistry for a sustainable future. Each tutorial concluded by questions and answers, discussions, and work for students to complete in between sessions.

On completion of the tutorials, students were asked to write a university-style essay answering the question: "Photochemistry: to what extent can light-driven chemical reactions allow us to achieve a sustainable future?"

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Students were given two weeks to complete their essays, and Hamza was available to contact via The Brilliant Club's platform to answer any queries prior to submission.

Hamza marked the essays, providing valuable feedback, and awarded three students with a 1st and the remaining students with a 2:1.

As well as gaining knowledge about photochemistry and its impact on sustainability, the opportunity gave students a deeper understanding about what it is like to study at university, as well as key study skills such as researching, writing assignments, and referencing.

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Hollie Chadderton was one of the students to take part. She said: "To study this with our PhD tutor was something entirely new. As a group, this was a new subject to us and we all learnt a lot of new things. I now have the understanding of what a photochemical process is and how this can help our future be a whole lot better by trying to prevent the risks that are destroying our planet in many ways."

Hamza said: "I really enjoyed working with the students and appreciated their effort and hard work over the course of the award. The quality of the submissions was very impressive and reflected good engagement with the tutorial material, as well as wider reading to better understand the research area. I hope the students can use what they've learnt across their other subjects to enhance their learning experience."

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The students were supported throughout the project by teachers, Matt Hobbs, leader of DT and Engineering, and Steve Holmes, head of science.

Mr Hobbs said: "Opportunities like those offered by The Brilliant Club are a fantastic way of broadening our students' horizons. Our students gained a fantastic insight into the academic side of university, and coped really well with what was a challenging scientific question. To achieve so highly on their essays is testament to their determination, willingness to learn and their engagement with the sessions."

The project formed part of the school's Seren programme, aimed at developing MAT students.

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Seren is a collaborative initiative between the Welsh Government, schools, colleges, leading universities, Seren Graduates, local authorities and third sector organisations to provide extensive national and regional study and enrichment activities for Year 8 to 13 learners from state schools and further education colleges across Wales. The aim is to support students to broaden their horizons, develop a passion for their chosen field of study, and achieve their goals.

The Seren Award is an online tutoring programme delivered to the most able learners across Wales. It is designed to help the transition into Key Stage 5 study and enable students to develop both university and subject specific knowledge, as well as academic skills, to support their university applications and prepare them for future university level study.