Independents, unsurprisingly, dominate


Professor Les Ebdon, despite the objections of many Tory MPs, looks likely to be the new head of OFFA. Tories believe that he will push universities too hard to admit under qualified state school pupils or, to put it another way, indulge in social engineering. Ebdon believes that we should deal with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be, shorthand for- the disadvantaged get poor qualifications so universities should reduce entry qualifications  for them  and instead spot their potential.  Not a good idea runs the counter argument , spotting potential is not easy   and in any case we have to compete with the best in the world, so dumbing down probably  isn’t such  a good idea .  Better to raise the quality of pupils coming out of state schools, even if this takes time. Rob Wilson MP , giving his views representing  the Fair Access to University Group, says that  intervention to improve standards at the pre-university secondary school stage is the best way to improve fairness, recognise talent and ensure that students, regardless of background, are able to access top institutions. It seems likely that OFFA will now find itself under political attack.

43 % of graduates from Ebdon’s  own university (Bedfordshire) have no job six months after graduating, so indications are that he has no  access to a silver bullet  to improve social mobility  or to ease  access to good jobs (or any job ,come to think of it!).     And doubtless more pressure will now be put on Oxbridge to admit more pupils from state schools and to invest more in their already substantial outreach programmes. On top of which they will need to offer remedial programmes for undergraduates in the first year to get them  up to the standard required to cope with  their courses(  and, in the process ,increase the costs of their courses, so reducing the number of places available-how much sense does that make?).

So, which schools generally have the best record in getting pupils into Oxbridge? Here is the top ten based on the latest available figures:

North London Collegiate School                       (40) (42%)

St Paul’s Girls’ School                                       (40) (42%)

Westminster School                                         (50) (39%)

Magdalen College School                                 (25) (32%)

Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls              (30) (29%)

The Stephen Perse Foundation                        (20) (29%)

St Paul’s School                                             (45) (27%)

Guildford High School                                     (25) (26%

City of London School for Girls                       (20) (26%)

Wycombe Abbey School                                  (20) (25%)

There isn’t a single non-selective state school in the top hundred .42% of the end of KS4 pupils in both North London Collegiate and St Pauls Girls gained entry to Oxbridge, which is extraordinary. Eton, for the record, sent 60 boys to Oxbridge representing 22% of their cohort. Interestingly, though, increasing numbers of pupils from the top independents are choosing Ivy League Universities ahead of Oxbridge.  So, will Oxbridge be in a position to compete at all with the Ivy League in the future, given the access  agenda?   A question that Ebdon   may need to answer when he takes up his new job.

(Source Deposited Papers-Parliament 2012)- 2006 GCSE cohort progressing to Oxbridge 2010 


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