Emdad Rahman: A Newham pupil has taken part and succeeded in a groundbreaking initiative to help students from inner city schools and disadvantaged backgrounds to study at top universities.
Hamza-Yunus Islam, an 11 year old year 6 pupil from Essex Primary School, was selected to take part in researching, writing and presenting an essay on a key and relevant topic.
Hamza-Yunus and his fellow students took part in the 'Newham Honours Programme' where Gifted and Talented pupils were targeted to participate. It is a government initiative programme which encourages Oxford and Cambridge to encourage bright children from working class families to apply to top universities. The researchers will follow the likes of Hamza in secondary school and then sixth the form.
Hamza-Yunus completed an assignment at school, facilitated and supported by PHD students. The process involved 4-6 weeks of research. Hamza-Yunus achieved a 2:1 and his graduation took place at Oxford University.
Hamza-Yunus's essay was titled “what is Fairness?” and within it he attempted to explain the concept of fairness, citing examples and presenting evidence.
The youngster, who plays Chess and supports Manchester United highlighted the views of American Author Rick Riordan who has written; “Fairness does not mean everyone gets the same. Fairness means everyone gets what they need.”
Joss Whedon’s views received a mention too; “Equality is not a concept. It's not something we should be striving for. It's a necessity. Equality is like gravity. We need it to stand on this earth as men and women. Fairness is equality.”
Hamza-Yunus, who wants to study towards a distinguished medical career, believes education is very important for people to make positive progress in life. He is very pleased with his achievement and hopes that his success will inspire more young people like him to apply and attend top universities in the future. He thanked his parents, sisters and extended family for their support; “Many of us are fortunate enough to have both parents who who are well and alive. In a recent TV programme called ‘Children In Need’, it showed that some children as young as seven or eight years old had to look after their own ill parents because they have certain illnesses or disease such as cancer. Because the parents cannot do anything for themselves, the children have to look after them and , in some cases, run the household. They are forced to grow up more quicker than other customary children because they do not have time to play and do things, other children do. For example, going to school or playing with friends. I am lucky that I have a lot of support.”
Many of the scenes in the Harry Potter feature films are shot in various locations of Christchurch College and this was one reason why Hamza-Yunus couldn't wait to visit the esteemed seat of learning: “I loved visiting Oxford University, especially as the Harry Potter films were shot there. I’m a huge fan,” he said.
His proud Mother Afia added: “Hamza has been dedicated to this essay right from the start. We are extremely proud of his achievement and it is indeed a reflection of the superb support that he receives from his teachers. We hope that Hamza-Yunus can continue his progress and achieve his academic aspirations in the future.”
The scheme was facilitated and supported by The Brilliant Club, an award winning non-profit organisation that exists to widen access to top universities for outstanding pupils from low-participation backgrounds. The primary activity is to recruit, train and place PhD students in non-selective state schools and sixth form colleges serving low participation communities to deliver programmes of university-style tutorials to small groups of outstanding students, which develop the skills, confidence and ambition that help those students to secure places at top universities.
Working together with schools, colleges and universities, The Brilliant Club are building a national movement that mobilises PhD students to engage with challenging schools and to address educational disadvantage more broadly.