It’s a ‘like’: The IGGY networking site for smart pupils is a hit

‘Clever Facebook’ project which hopes to entice foreign students here gets a thumbs-up

A social networking site, described as a “thinking teenager’s Facebook”, that aims to prepare bright pupils for top universities, has attracted more than 2,500 members.

The site, called IGGY (the International Gateway for Gifted Youth), has been devised by academics at Warwick University.

It challenges the nation’s brightest 13- to 18-year-olds with a series of questions and puzzles aimed at stretching their intelligence, as well as offering them the chance to network with each other. Membership is open to any pupil recommended by their teacher on the grounds of impressing them with their proven ability or potential.

Dr Adam Boddison, academic director of the project, said: “The real test is whether the pupil has the potential to perform in the top five per cent of their peers. You have to be recommended by a teacher or an academic expert who says you can make it.

“It includes those who are already highly performing and a second group who don’t always perform in school, and who may not be challenged sufficiently in school.”

Once accepted, they can take part in a number of games and quizzes, such as following an expedition by Arctic explorer Mark Wood and predicting how his body will be affected by his travels. In another quiz, students are asked to discuss the connection between cats and maths, including the scientific theory behind how a cat flap works.

The site has also just launched its own young writers’ prize and is asking its members to contribute a short story of no more than 2,500 words for a cash prize of £2,000 and the chance to see themselves in print in Litro magazine.

Additionally, the site poses debate questions, such as: “Is it a problem that the average age of members of the House of Lords is 69?”

Membership is open to pupils in the UK and abroad, although 75 per cent of those who have already signed up are from the British Isles. It costs £90 to join but there are subsidies available for disadvantaged pupils. So far the site has been used by students in South Africa, Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia, as well as the UK.

“One of the delights is that students can go on to it without their teacher knowing what they are doing,” said Dr Boddison. “They can learn by themselves and for themselves.”

The site is a tacit acceptance of the new ways pupils want to learn. Earlier this month, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales predicted the boring university lecture will be the first casualty in a major move toward online learning in higher education.

The aim of IGGY is to bolster teenagers’ confidence and encourage them to apply to top-ranking universities in the UK.

“It’s a bit like building the Olympiads of education,” Dr Boddison said. “It’s acceptable to strive for excellence in sports but it doesn’t seem acceptable in education. Watch this space. We want to change that,” he added.

Case study

Imogen Downing has been a regular visitor to the IGGY site since she was introduced to it by her teacher toward the end of last year.

The 15-year-old pupil at Rugby High School for Girls, in Warwickshire, was one of a number at the school selected to become a member.

Since then, she has visited the site almost every other day: “I really like the debates they have and the challenges they give you,” she says.

One she recalls vividly is writing an essay debating the use of nuclear power and alternative energies; the topic mirrored that of an essay she was asked to produce in school soon afterward.

She also remembers how much she enjoyed designing a video of water condensation together with Severn Trent Water.

“I really like it”, she says of the site. “It’s sort of different from schoolwork and very constructive and enjoyable.”

Since joining IGGY, she has chatted online with other members, including one pupil from India. They had never met before but became the digital equivalent of pen-pals.

Imogen, whose favourite subjects at school are physics, maths and history, will be taking four GCSEs this summer before starting a new challenge: she will be moving to Scotland and transferring to their education system, sitting her standard exams next year.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test