/ Bad news on top University pay and participation
Which state schools hit the jackpot. Bet it includes Altrincham Grammar.
I would be impressed if it included Winstanley Sixth Form. ( that is one hell of a state school , even Will Hutton was impressed)
The source report.
Not a satisfactory state of affairs but quotas would not seem to be the answer when, as the article goes on to reveal,
"State sixth form Brighton, Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College (BHASVIC) said offers from Oxbridge "began to snowball" in recent years. Mr Baldwin put the success down to dedicating college resources to admissions and employing a full-time co-ordinator of Oxbridge applications. Last year 57 students were offered Oxbridge places and 27 of those were from less affluent backgrounds.
"Mr Baldwin put the success down to dedicating college resources to admissions and employing a full-time co-ordinator of Oxbridge applications."
Those are impressive numbers. My daughter is the product of a large northern state sixth form college (2,000 students across 2 years), which also supported her and her peers extremely well during the application process, happily with a successful result.
Outreach initiatives (in particular from Oxford) have only recently improved but it is not the universities' responsibility to bring pupils to the required educational standard, nor work on their interview skills. Oxbridge tutors are skilled at assessing young minds and it is my experience that most are very conscious of the pressures exerted by the statistics without the need for quotas, which risk turning the sense of achievement experienced by a state school pupil on accession to Oxbridge into a nagging doubt that they are making up the numbers.
The answer would therefore seem to lie in developing state sixth form policy to better embrace the mechanics of the application process and encourage ambition. Easier to achieve in a large sixth form college than in a small school sixth form, I grant you.
My view on quotas is they should only apply to public schools (organisations that in my view should have lost charity status decades ago) but even then I don't believe it should impact their scholarship students from poorer backgrounds. These successful state schools are not as helpful to social mobility as they could be, as once their reputation is established they tend to be dominated by middle classes trying their best to game entry. However, currently we so desperately need to improve social mobility in the higher echelons of higher education that we can't ignore anything that works.
I agree with your view on the success of tutors but that cements in an admissions process that suits Oxbridge, the Public Schools and the upper middle classes. Longer term I'd rather see reliance on grades adapted to account for student background, than to continue to mould an admissions ideal that gives an advantage for the privileged. My Comprehensive peers probably struggled more with the culture and snobbery of Oxbridge than the intellectual challenge, so given Oxbridge's justified reputation for helping avoid academic failure, I think having only three A grades wouldn't be a problem for entry for a bright kid from a disadvantaged school and poor background. Even in my day very few of the rapidly increased number of Comprehensive kids came from inner city sink schools, I'd hoped this would change as state schools improved and yet the stats all look pretty much the same now as when I entered in the early 80s.
An worthwhile viewpoint from Owen Jones who (unsurprisingly) feels the same way on this.
> An worthwhile viewpoint from Owen Jones who (unsurprisingly) feels the same way on this.
I agree with a lot of what OJ says. And that doesn’t happen very often! But Oxford and Cambridge don’t just aspire to the highest academic standards. Oxbridge, for better or worse, is also a proving ground for the more broadly able. Those who combine drive, ambition and effective goal setting in equal measure to their intellectual prowess. That’s why Oxford in particular stuffs successive cabinets with its alumni and the most successful industrialists often have Cambridge on their CV. And, to be fair to those from top public schools, they can hardly be criticised for having those qualities nurtured. The selection system is unfair, yes, but the fault lies, at least in part, with a state system that fails to deliver.
I disagree. I think privilege builds privilege. The cabinet PPS members in the last few decades hardly inspire a sense of superior ability to go along with the smug superiority often on display. I'm not denying state school culpability but they have real resource issues to juggle alongside this; especially right now. I'm optimistic that forcing wider fairer recruitment of the best available for the best will benefit society in what comes out. In my day lots of public school kids with great family connections seemed pretty average to me but Oxbridge was a safe 'finishing school' on the way to guarenteed wealth. All the comp kids were super bright in qualification and ability terms, but too many underacheived, as they struggled to fit in. Oxbridge needs to change it's support culture for disadvantaged kids, as well as its entry systems.
> I disagree.
Yes, but on what? As far as I can see we’re both in agreement that the state could do more to motivate and prepare pupils while the colleges could work harder to seek out the best minds.
Your solution is statist (quotas) and mine is capitalist (incentives).
As for the cabinet, you’re confusing the considerable skill required in reaching high office with the very different talents required to run a department, company or country.
I do tend to agree that Oxbridge was a bastion of the posh when I (state scholarship to independent school) was there. The place was full of confident youngsters who seemed more sure of their futures. My daughter (state sixth form college) paints a similar picture today, although she tells me support is improving. Her college has a “class act officer” based on the Cambridge Class Act campaign to help students from less advantaged backgrounds.
Does privilege beget privilege? Or do sharp minds produce bright offspring as well as family wealth? A bit of both I dare say.
Oxbridge admit they are not doing enough so the evidence supports my position. Irrespective of the nature versus nurture debates for intellectual capacity, any likely ability distributions are still indicating unfair representation of disadvantaged kids. Upper middle class folk sell themselves this tale that 'it's just good genes' and ignore all the other benefits that their children receive and that they might not be the most independant view on how bright their kids are.
As a liberal I'm all for incentives but the current ones clearly don't work fairly. Quotas for non-scholarship public school kids in the top Universities with problematic distributions, given their continued failures to improve social mobility stats, are only mildly statist in a social liberal sense, less statist than plenty of other UK government interventions and not inconsistent with what OfS say should happen. I can't imagine any possible school and University entry system likely in a UK democracy that the upper middle classes won't be able to game to some extent, so genuine bright kids from such families can't lose out by much.
> As a liberal I'm all for incentives but the current ones clearly don't work fairly.
They are in the wrong place today. The current system incentivises universities to respond positively to well-schooled independent sector students. They acclimatise better to life in top universities on every level.
However, data shows that those schools that have adopted independent school-style encouragement and motivation are achieving independent school-level results. Incentivise all schools to deliver the same and you won't just solve the problem of inequality of access to university. You'll have a brighter, better generation.
I'm not ignoring the challenges in achieving the above but it strikes me as a more constructive and noble ambition than enforcing quotas.
I read about the Brighton school. Let’s be real here Brighton is an outreach of London . I would guess that there are a considerable number of well driven and focused parents getting their children into that school. It’s probably on a par with Altrincham.
Your optimism needs to be based on some evidence.. what you describe is mainly better results in some of the best state schools and mainly for middle class kids. The overall data shows very little positive change for disadvantaged kids and the top Universities have had a long time to sort this out on their own.
Trouble is fees are looking increasing unaffordable for the UK and pressures on government are growing to do something about this from a finance basis.
> Your optimism needs to be based on some evidence.. what you describe is mainly better results in some of the best state schools and mainly for middle class kids. The overall data shows very little positive change for disadvantaged kids and the top Universities have had a long time to sort this out on their own.
So your quotas aren’t state vs independent school. We’re banning middle class kids now?
> I read about the Brighton school. Let’s be real here Brighton is an outreach of London.
And Greenhead sixth form college in Huddersfield, rated number one overall in the UK a year or two ago, with outstanding Oxbridge entrance success, is practically in Cheshire?
> So your quotas aren’t state vs independent school. We’re banning middle class kids now?
My Spanish teacher once said something very astute, which is that the better state schools are semi private in their way, because of how the homes within their catchment areas are more expensive to buy or to rent to live in.
I think inequality of opportunity based on the wealth of their parents when it comes to who manages to get on educationally should trouble any decent person.
I'm not asking to ban anyone: just seeking to increase representation of bright poor kids in the top Universities. Doing it your way is too slow and will likely take a generation or two. As I said I wouldnt include scholarship kids from private schools nor good state schools in any quotas (as otherwise we risk 'throwing out babies with the bathwater').
Forming a school related house price feedback loop. Good schools attract the middle class house buyers and the prices increase such that poorer families tend to get pushed out. West Bridgford house prices can be double some good Nottingham city areas for the same type and quality of property. The evidence is that schools (as long as they are not dreadful) make very little difference compared to active family support for learning: the Freakanomics team did some good work on this... try and convince those parents though.
Having slowly increasing quotas in the top Universities, on say kids who qualified for free school meals, would change the situation very quickly. Bursaries and support (before and after entry) would suddenly be much better as they would need to be.
> I think inequality of opportunity based on the wealth of their parents when it comes to who manages to get on educationally should trouble any decent person.
Probably why we’re discussing it. Differences lie in the proposed solutions, not the analysis.
> Probably why we’re discussing it. Differences lie in the proposed solutions, not the analysis.
I almost sense a 'niggling tone'?
The reason I put it like I did was because you raised banning middle class children (not seriously I'm sure).
The wider picture for the young looks pretty bleak to them.
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