STUDENTS from University Academy Keighley have graduated with flying colours after a pioneering programme.

Twelve year-ten pupils from the Green Head Road school took part in the Scholars Programme.

The initiative is run by award-winning charity the Brilliant Club, which aims to create more opportunities for state-school pupils to access places at top universities.

A launch event was held at the University of Manchester in May, when the students were assigned a PhD tutor in philosophy, George Stamets.

There was a tour of the campus, study skills workshops and a chance for the young people to meet other participants from across the north of England.

Over a six-week period, the students met in small groups with their tutor to learn about philosophy and prepare for their final assignment.

As part of the assignment – Are my actions ever up to me? An Introduction to Free Will – they had to write a 2,000-word essay, which was then marked using degree-level criteria.

Among the UAK students who took part was Maryam Hayat, who said she was delighted to be selected.

She added: "We were chosen by our teachers for being brilliant in a particular subject like maths, English or RE.

"We had to write a 250-word statement explaining why we wanted to take part in the programme and why we thought it would benefit us."

Fellow student Natalie McQuillan achieved a first at the culmination of the programme.

She said: "The final assessment was designed to challenge pupils and show the skills and knowledge we had acquired whilst studying on the course."

The students were joined by family members and staff at a graduation ceremony at the University of Leeds Michael Sandler Building.

Natalie's mum said her daughter was now considering a university course as a result of graduating from the programme.

She added: "Nat wasn't sure about university whereas her sister Sarah, who is studying for A-levels at South Craven School, always knew she wanted to go.

"Nat is now considering a future at university. At the graduation ceremony we got some really useful information about student finance too."

The UAK participants have given a presentation about their experience to year-nine pupils, who will be embarking on the programme themselves.

And they gave a presentation to 250 parents and family members at a year five and six open evening.

UAK assistant principal, Stuart Smith, said: "Our students have really done themselves, their families and the academy proud.

"This experience has introduced our most able students to a world of academic possibilities.

"The students are great ambassadors for UAK and we look forward to celebrating their continued success in whatever paths they choose."