Sarah Brown celebrates Urban Scholars

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19 September 2008: Addressing Brunel University’s Urban Scholars Conference, keynote speaker and SHINE Patron Sarah Brown praised its success in identifying gifted young people and giving them the help and support they need to raise their horizons and fulfil their academic potential.

patron_sarah_brown resizedSHINE is a leading sponsor of Brunel’s Urban Scholars programme and also funds these conferences, which enable Brunel to share the secrets of its success and explain how this superb programme might be copied by other institutions.

In her speech, Sarah explained how SHINE relied upon meaningful collaboration – both nationally and internationally – to achieve real and lasting educational improvements for thousands of disadvantaged children. She said: “SHINE has set out deliberately to encourage the sharing of best practice, leading to replication of the most successful models”, pointing to our SHINE on Saturday programmes as a prime example.

Describing Brunel Urban Scholars as “an exemplar of what can be achieved with commitment, funding and unity of purpose”, Sarah commended it for sharing its own best practice. She then called upon charities and educational organisations to work more closely together. She said: “It is easy to say the words ‘joined up’ but the reality can be very difficult to achieve – and yet when it is achieved the results can be very powerful indeed.”

Promoting aspiration

Sarah praised Urban Scholars for promoting aspiration and actively seeking out young people who could benefit. She also commended it for designing an “engaging and challenging curriculum in which the students want to participate”, while not forgetting the need to provide unglamorous but essential practical support.

Referring to the recent success of Britain’s Olympic and Paralympic teams, Sarah argued that, like top athletes, gifted teenagers have an obligation to their talent. Moreover, she said, society has a responsibility to help them fulfil their potential, regardless of their background. She concluded: “With all of us working together, our gifted children and young people will be able to aim higher; move faster; grow stronger – and go further.”

Brunel Urban Scholars

Brunel’s programme seeks out gifted secondary school students from state schools across inner London. The students attend its campus nine times a year for four years to be taught by university staff and visiting speakers. The programme expands and enhances the work they are doing at school and develops their critical thinking and problem solving skills.