To think - yes, universities should take state school applicants with lower grades

(438 Posts)
Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 14:41:29

.. than applicants from private and grammar schools, on the basis that this new research suggests that as a group, state school pupils appear to be more able than private school applicants with identical A level and GCSE grades. More likely to get a good degree, less likely to drop out.

here

What do you think?

Andrewofgg Sat 07-Jun-14 14:44:50

YABU. Admission to university should be on results for the following year - everyone taking a gap year - and the identity and type of the school should be hidden behind a code-number.

No prejudice, no social engineering.

After all, A-levels are marked blind!

Some already do, don't they? In fact I think some do it a lot more subtly than 'state vs private'. Whether it's something that should be mandated, I'm less sure.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 07-Jun-14 14:46:42

Yabu

Children from states schools are capable of getting top grades and always have done.

It is patronising and fuels the concept that the poorer (or indeed just state educated) are somewhere "other".

JustALittleBitLost Sat 07-Jun-14 14:46:51

YANBU - I teach at a RG university, on an oversubscribed course, and this research comes to no surprise to me or my colleagues.

JustALittleBitLost Sat 07-Jun-14 14:47:46

Do agree that it's a bit more complicated than state vs private though.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 14:49:33

YABU and I say this as someone who went to state school.

Even if it was changed, there would be two major flaws;

1.) People would tutor the hell out of their state school children.

2.) If you positively discriminate against state school applications, there is a chance that they may not cope with the demands of the course.

zazzie Sat 07-Jun-14 14:49:53

I grades I needed to get were lower than the standard ones and that was 25 years ago. Some universities have always done it.

soverylucky Sat 07-Jun-14 14:51:42

YABU - Many state school pupils get excellent results. However there are at a massive disadvantage when it comes to experience outside the classroom. For example they are less likely to get the sort of work experience placement than those at private school. They will also probably spend their weekends stacking shelves in Tesco rather that going on a D of E trek. That is the sort of thing that disadvantages them imo.

zazzie Sat 07-Jun-14 14:51:55

Although I did go to a state school where very few went to university. It probably didn't apply to all state schools.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sat 07-Jun-14 14:51:56

Our university also knows this, it confirms our internal data that once with us, our state school pupils do marginally better.

I would be in favour of a small modest grade decrease for those from the lower achieving state schools, say AAB rather than three AAA or whatever. Nothing drastic, but a bit of flexibility.

I don't think it is 'othering' to suggest state school comp. pupils traditionally don't get quite as many high grades as those who are in grammar or private schools, that's why people pay for them to go elsewhere or why 10 pupils apply for every place.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sat 07-Jun-14 14:52:35

Well... just to be awkward - logically, if state school pupils are being found to do better, surely they should be asked for higher A level grades?

But going with the original argument, I wonder if it would make teaching difficult if people are all starting a course with very different grades (aka knowledge/understanding) to their neighbour.

eddielizzard Sat 07-Jun-14 14:54:36

yabu.

there should be no distinction. if you get good enough grades, you get in.

simple as that.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 14:54:42

So it's reasonable that more less able privately educated children get places on university courses?

Because this is what the research seems to suggest is happening - that a level grades are not an accurate reflection of a person's ability and potential.

There is social engineering going on already by the way. Take two children of similar ability, spend twice as much on one child's education as on the others, and then reward the child who does best (usually the one who has had more teaching hours - the expensively educated one) with a university place.

SanityClause Sat 07-Jun-14 14:55:08

Isn't this done already on a case by case basis?

TrueGent Sat 07-Jun-14 14:55:14

What incentives would this create? Schools getting the top grades for their pupils would be penalised (through fewer places at university) and those doing less well would be encouraged to maintain that same level of mediocrity.

Ask yourselves - is this how China, South Korea, Singapore etc educate their children?

Typical flabby, self-loathing, liberal, mushy rubbish whereby all must have prizes and sports days and other competitions are 'unfair' on children.

brokenhearted55a Sat 07-Jun-14 14:56:01

How do you differentiate between the state school pupils who got lower grades because they lacked opportunity from and the state pupils who got lower grades because they did fuck all work?

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 14:56:25

Eddie - so sought after university places shouldn't go first to the most able and those with the most potential, they should go to those who've had the most expensive primary and secondary education?

mrsruffallo Sat 07-Jun-14 14:57:47

YANBU. State schools teach children to use their initiative.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 14:57:59

Broken - they don't have to differentiate. According to this research A state school pupil with a grade C is probably just as able and hard working as a private school student with a grade B.

SoonToBeSix Sat 07-Jun-14 14:58:14

Sovery I know you didn't mean it to sound patronising but many state school children do D of E my own dd included.

mrsruffallo Sat 07-Jun-14 14:59:29

YANBU I think in this age of fairly poor social mobility in England, it would be the right thing to do

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 07-Jun-14 15:00:20

It's based on grades, which the privately educated children often have. Going to an RG university isn't the be all and end all.

Plenty of state school pupils are tutored like you wouldn't believe, some are pretty much only state schools in name. My brother and I attended schools like that. Though my former school is not of the standing it once was.

Plenty of state school teachers put in extra hours doing revision classes for their pupils.

Yes a child can have a duff morning and cock up their exam thereby getting a B not an A, but that could happen to any child.

How is it fair to demand AAA off some and accept others with CCD?

brokenhearted55a Sat 07-Jun-14 15:01:03

Broken - they don't have to differentiate. According to this research A state school pupil with a grade C is probably just as able and hard working as a private school student with a grade B.

I had huge gaps in education and when I was at school it was always state. I got B's at a level.

if I can do it there is no need to blame a C on a state school education.

SpottieDottie Sat 07-Jun-14 15:01:15

I'm not convinced it's fair really, I mean if a state school pupil with 3 x C at A level gets a place at a top university then what message is that sending out to the AAA state school pupil who has worked really hard to get those grades?

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:01:17

here

This medical school has been taking students with lower grades from state schools for years and has a fantastic record of turning out good doctors.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:02:31

The message it sends out to private school pupils is - you can't buy your way onto a good degree course above the head of someone smarter and poorer than you! ;-)

mrsruffallo Sat 07-Jun-14 15:02:34

SOverylucky-Lots of state school kids have interesting hobbies and parents who provide a life outside school that is inspiring and enriching.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sat 07-Jun-14 15:02:44

2.) If you positively discriminate against state school applications, there is a chance that they may not cope with the demands of the course.

This is not our experience, our experience (Russell Group) is that it is the private school pupils who have slightly more difficulty coping with the demands of the course. They have already experienced indirect positive discrimination by attending schools where the average grades are much higher and so meet say the AAB standard more easily.

Well... just to be awkward - logically, if state school pupils are being found to do better, surely they should be asked for higher A level grades?

I haven't explained it very well if that's what you conclude- what this suggests is that A-levels are a good but not very good predictor of how students will do at uni. Given that private school pupils are over-represented in proportion to their % in the population, and there are limited places, this suggests that they are somewhat disproportionately getting into top unis when some of them are not the most academically able- thereby stopping someone else from fulfilling their (slightly greater) academic potential.

Your argument would be logical if universities had a ceiling on attainment but we don't, we want the brightest and the best whatever social group or school they may come from. If you asked for higher grades from comp students, there would be even less of them proportionally and standards would be lower as indeed happens every time a member of the Royal family embarrasses themselves by attending Oxbridge

SpottieDottie Sat 07-Jun-14 15:03:31

Sovery why do you think state school pupils don't do the D of E?

Andrewofgg Sat 07-Jun-14 15:04:03

What TrueGent said.

It's all too bloody East German. We should not be asking applicants what their parents do for a living or whether they went to university. Not the universities' business.

If A Level grades are not an adequate predictor improve A Levels and marking.

Igggi Sat 07-Jun-14 15:04:33

Ask yourselves - is this how China, South Korea, Singapore etc educate their children?

Why are these countries models of how we'd want to educate our children?

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:04:34

Broken - if you had studied at a top private school in a tiny class of clever children you would have had more of your teacher's attention, more teaching and contact time, and probably would have got an A rather than a B.

Scousadelic Sat 07-Jun-14 15:05:34

YABU. There are too many variables that affect this. We have friends with children at both types of school and there is a huge range of capability and achievements between schools and pupils in both categories. That's before you start adding in the differences outside school, not all children at independent schools come from privileged backgrounds, where some at state schools are

Igggi Sat 07-Jun-14 15:05:51

Thenapoleonofcrime - great post.

mrsruffallo Sat 07-Jun-14 15:06:57

Absolutely LeMis-It sends out the message that elitism is wrong.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:07:19

Andrew - the job of universities is to identify the most talented students with the most potential.

No amount of reform of A levels will compensate for the fact that private school students have more teaching time than state school pupils. Much more.

brokenhearted55a Sat 07-Jun-14 15:08:11

Broken - if you had studied at a top private school in a tiny class of clever children you would have had more of your teacher's attention, more teaching and contact time, and probably would have got an A rather than a B.

Yes but I still got into university and became a solicitor.

mrsruffallo Sat 07-Jun-14 15:10:38

napoleon-great post

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:10:46

Then - if you admit a state school pupil with 3 As on average they will do better than a privately educated pupil with similar results.

What that tells us is this: that A level grades are more of a reflection of the type of primary and secondary education an applicant has had than they are of innate ability and potential.

Impatientismymiddlename Sat 07-Jun-14 15:11:40

I'm not convinced that this is fair or would work. Whilst I understand the logic behind the research I think it has a flaw:
The highest possible grade is an A* so if a state school pupil and a private school pupil both got the coveted A* we have no way of knowing whether one of those pupils got 10% higher on the raw score (because grades are banded). So whilst the research looks at the grades and compares those to university success it isn't able to differentiate on how much more percentage one of the pupils has achieved.

Secondly: making additional allowances for children from lower achieving schools doesn't address the fact that those schools need to improve and ensure that every child reaches their potential. Instead of looking at how state pupils need to work harder and be more able to achieve the same grades, we should be concentrating on ensuring that every school enables every child to achieve their maximum potential.

If we just keep making allowances we will never address the real issue of some schools failing to help children reach their potential.

FyreFly Sat 07-Jun-14 15:13:27

YABU.

I'm so glad my (very good) grades, which I worked myself into the ground for (including being taken off school for exhaustion), are worth less because I was privately educated.

I earned my place on my undergraduate degree (on which there were 2 of us privately educated, out of an intake of 45), I earned my place on my Masters and I earned my place on my PhD course. My parents money didn't come into it.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 07-Jun-14 15:14:10

This is typical Tory ideology - We're rich and therefore better than you, the fact is a lot of our kids don't need university so it won't hurt to let a few of the poor in.

It is not an anti-elitist move.

ThePonderer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:17:15

Who counts as a 'state school student'? Where I live there are very good primary schools, and an extremely competitive sixth form college. Many children attend private schools from year 7 to 11 and then return to state education for the sixth form. On their university application forms they might look 'state educated' but they are still products of a selective system.

Surely the best you can do is hope that the universities really consider each applicant closely, and then - crucially - show some flexibility if the applicant fails to make the required grades?

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:17:24

Whoops, sorry then didn't read your post properly.

I agree with all the points you've made.

Scousadelic Sat 07-Jun-14 15:17:54

Another problem here is that, if this became policy, fewer people would pay for private school and the state system would buckle under the pressure in some areas. When we moved here the local authority was unable to offer my children a place in any of the local high schools because one was over-subscribed, one was RC, others nearby were in a different authority. How would they cope with more?

How do you compare a child from a supportive, comfortably off family who attends a state school with a child from a less favourable background who goes to a private school on a scholarship? Far too many variables at play to do this imo.

Andrewofgg Sat 07-Jun-14 15:18:00

OP: If more teaching time leads to more potential, so be it; you can't pretend people have had what they have not had. I should add that I am state school educated.

littledrummergirl Sat 07-Jun-14 15:18:21

Ds1 is bright. He goes to a super selective.grammar school and is working hard to get decent grades. We live in a deprived area, the police are called often to neighbours and only 4 households out of 150 have children at a grammar.

These families are not much different to those around them, they have different priorities in life.

Ds2 didnt qualify for a grammar place despite having exactly the same input as ds1. He is at the local comp.
I know that if he chooses to work hard he can go to a good uni.

I dont see why he should need lower grades than his brother for the same course. This would be unfair to both of them.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:19:07

Theponderer, I think the research compared applicants from non-selective state schools (comprehensives) with pupils from private (academically selective and non-academically selective) and grammar schools.

Andrewofgg Sat 07-Jun-14 15:20:05

It's also probably that a supportive education-minded background - such as having teachers as parents - gives you an equally "unfair" advantage over children from homes which are rich but not interested in education and treat boarding as a short of child-care, anything to get the buggers out of the house!

Thenapoleonofcrime Sat 07-Jun-14 15:21:29

Fyrefly your grades are not worth less, but someone who worked just as hard as you and also got exhausted may have had less teaching and larger classes and more disruption and lower aspirations and come out with an A instead of an A*.

How does that detract from your A*?

Toapointlordcopper Sat 07-Jun-14 15:22:58

Firstly, I do not see in the underlying research that a B from indie equals a C from state, so please can you point out this specific? Because if not then you start comparing apples with oranges.

I don't have a doubt that - ceribus paribus - a B from comprehensive trumps a B from Indie. But that doesn't therefore mean that a C from a comprehensive = a B from private, and without that clear statistic, you don't know if the C state student is capable of the same achievement as the B private.

Interestingly, when you look at the underlying research (which compares outcomes from the same input grades) there is a finding that when you look at 2.2 and above, the statistics are reversed and 67% of private achieve this against 62% of state, which would suggest you ought to do the reverse of your suggestion, OP, and let in more indie students in order to shift the bell curve of acceptable degrees higher.

The reality of course is that whilst there are so many variables, universities should try to take into account those variables as much as they can and the research shows that they do - indie pupils are required to achieve slightly higher grades to enter uni than state, according to the actual underlying research (as opposed to the headlines) ABB on average, vs BBC.

What is a real shame is the the research showed far more starkness of differences between the races, which warrants real investigation and action, but no-one clearly gives a shit about that when they can jump on the class bandwagon.

Antiopa12 Sat 07-Jun-14 15:23:23

Imagine trying to study for your A levels in the living room with your 6 brothers and sisters packed into the same room, television blaring, no room in your cold shared bedroom for a desk, constant interruptions. Your parents not understanding anything about what is needed to get to university. When you trek in the evening to the local library reading room you share your table with homeless people trying to keep warm and it shuts before you can finish what you need to do. This is why some able state school pupils do better at university, finally the playing field is level.

ComposHat Sat 07-Jun-14 15:24:11

yanbu I went to a university dominated by ex private school students. The degree of support and coaching they'd had to get them through the a-level and university interview process was unreal. It is absurd to say the A grade they'd achieved was on a par with a an A or even a B achieved at a inner city comp in special measures.

The person who achieved a B in the latter circumstances has shown more capacity for independent learning, resilience and nous than someone who has coasted through the process with every advantage hsnded to thrm and is in all likelihood be better suited to university study.

Takver Sat 07-Jun-14 15:24:11

"I'm not convinced that this is fair or would work."

I think it pretty much used to happen at Cambridge back in the day when I applied. The application form asked questions about your school (IIRC including how many oxbridge entrants in the last 5 yrs) and also about highest level of parental qualification, & I'm pretty sure that the statement from your school mentioned any particular factors.

Looking at people I knew in college, I'd say those from non traditional backgrounds were no brighter than those from private /grammar schools, but we worked harder & final results reflected that. (The mature students with a union background who'd come through Ruskin worked the hardest of all!)

Freckletoes Sat 07-Jun-14 15:25:11

Surely the issue being raised here is one of the major reasons parents send their kids to private school-state schools do not provide the same level of education as private schools do. That surely is the thing that needs addressing. There has to be a way of measuring achievement across the breadth of education types and that is by A level exams and their subsequent results. If it becomes the norm to require different results according to the different schooling methods then it becomes unfair to individuals-what about the privately educated kids who are very bright, organised and focused and would have achieved top grades wherever they were educated-is it then fair to discriminate against them? What if the state school child who achieves BCC and is offered a place on an ABB course had slogged their guts out to the point of exhaustion, had extra coaching from private tutors and just scraped the grades. Would they then cope alongside other kids (state or private) who easily attained the ABB grades? I just don't think it is as clear cut as private school children should have to get higher grades then state school children (or vice versa).

Takver Sat 07-Jun-14 15:27:57

"What if the state school child who achieves BCC and is offered a place on an ABB course had slogged their guts out to the point of exhaustion, had extra coaching from private tutors and just scraped the grades. "

I guess at Cambridge it's not an issue as they always interview, & it would be very obvious. There it was much more about picking people they wanted at interview, but recognising that they might not have the support to get the absolute top grades that a bright private school pupil is pretty much guaranteed to get.

SoonToBeSix Sat 07-Jun-14 15:30:32

Antiopa do you really believe the scenario you describe is the norm for state educated children?

calmet Sat 07-Jun-14 15:31:50

Totally agree. Universities need to choose the most able students. If those from state schools with the same grades as those from private schools are more able, then this needs to be taken into account.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sat 07-Jun-14 15:31:56

(hmmJust to be clear - I wasn't being entirely serious....)

andmyunpopularopionis Sat 07-Jun-14 15:33:26

YABU

Some children are from very wealthy areas with fantastic State schools. They are a lot better off than most grammar and privately educated children. Is that okay? Do they deserve their place more than the poor Kid who worked hard to get a grammar place? OR the child who's local school was a dump so parents worked all hours, forfeiting family life for private school fees so their child would get a decent education? Now you want to punish them? how is that fair?

Perhaps the government should rather concern itself with ensuring equal education for all.Instead of trying to create Social mobility by punishing the ones at the perceived top.

Antiopa12 Sat 07-Jun-14 15:34:10

No, not for all of them but for some of them yes. It was for me. Family size is less these days but there are still bright poor children with difficult home circumstances which are not conducive to studying.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:34:22

"Surely the issue being raised here is one of the major reasons parents send their kids to private school-state schools do not provide the same level of education as private schools do. That surely is the thing that needs addressing."

We know state school teachers are generally just as good as those in the private sector (which gets most of its teachers from the state sector anyway).

State schools should forthwith halve the size of their classes, and distribute all their disruptive pupils as widely as possible, including by sending them to private schools, so that state school teachers are not overburdened by having to spend disproportionate amounts of time dealing with challenging children and those with special needs, diagnosed and undiagnosed.

But it's not going to happen, is it?

calmet Sat 07-Jun-14 15:34:39

It is not about trying to create social mobility, it is about picking the best students.

Olga79 Sat 07-Jun-14 15:35:14

I remember at an open day some other people being most indignant that I had an ABB offer whilst they had AAA offers. I suspect coming from a comprehensive had a lot to do with this (15 years ago now)

Thenapoleonofcrime Sat 07-Jun-14 15:35:16

Toapoint I agree with you this system is already in operation, most unis have/want to increase their intake of students from diverse backgrounds and so do this informally anyway- for example, being more flexible if a pupil from a poorer state school doesn't hit the required grades and a judgement has to be made.

Cambridge certainly operated this policy, or some of the colleges did 20 years ago to encourage more state school pupils to attend.

As for those saying how do the unis know who is a 'state' pupil, they don't need to classify so crudely, they can take a quick look at the GCSE and A level average points of that school over the past couple of years, and some have lists of 'not so great' and 'better' schools in their area but they would never ever disclose these.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 07-Jun-14 15:36:17

Anti that isn't reality for a huge number of state school pupils.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 15:36:37

"Now you want to punish them? how is that fair?"

No. But on a much, much grander scale the people currently being 'punished' by being deprived of a chance to fulfil their potential are bright children in state schools, as children from private schools who are similarly or less able are leap-frogging over their heads to claim most of the prizes.

You can't please everyone.

ExcuseTypos Sat 07-Jun-14 15:38:54

YANBU though I thought they already did this a little. Both DDs were at an average comp, but got into RG unis with slightly lower grades than was asked for. (They both got a B instead of an A for one of their A levels)

Both have said, in their experience that they are surprised they have/are doing better than their friends from private schools. They presumed the private school students would be way ahead of them, but have found the only thing they are ahead in initially, is an air of confidence.

SoonToBeSix Sat 07-Jun-14 15:39:21

Yes Antiopia you are right, however I don't agree in making a policy based on the minority.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 07-Jun-14 15:40:49

I agree with Six

Thenapoleonofcrime Sat 07-Jun-14 15:41:04

In the scenario of the poorer pupil whose parents 'scrape together' private school fees or send them out of a grammar school- why is it then unfair for them to be expected to get slightly better grades. Surely that's exactly why these students were sent there, for the better educational possibilities? If my dd gets into the grammar school I hope for, then I will expect her to get top results along with the whole cohort.

Universities want the brightest, as in academically brightest. If the child has been lucky enough to be both academically bright and have parents who are motivated to help them fulfil their potential earlier, by paying, or sending them to the grammar school in another borough, then they have benefited from this already. Any such 'tweak' in A level grade expectations is likely to be pretty minor, and so their chances are still better of getting in to a top uni, even with a little added competition from those less fortunate in their schooling opportunities (as evidenced by the Oxbridge numbers from most private and grammar schools).

Olga79 Sat 07-Jun-14 15:42:59

My school had a 43% 5 A*-C pass rate at the time btw.

ExcuseTypos Sat 07-Jun-14 15:44:21

olga my DDs have come across the same thing. Dd1 got a summer job, showing prospective student and parents around during open days.

She had some extremely rude comments from some parents who said she only got in with her results because she went to a comp. Well that's is true but she worked blooming hard and came out with a high 2.1, so why shouldn't she have been there?

unrealhousewife Sat 07-Jun-14 15:45:32

YANBU

Impatientismymiddlename Sat 07-Jun-14 15:48:30

Just to (attempt to) explain my previous post a little better. The English literature paper A requires a raw score of 65 out of a possible 80 to achieve an A*. If a private (or excellent state school) pupil gets a raw score of 79 and a pupil from a lesser achieving school gets a raw score of 65 then both pupils get an A* but clearly one has achieved a higher raw score which the overall grade doesn't account for. Can we be sure that the pupil getting 65 would also have achieved 79 if he had been at the other students school?
In order to implement this we would need to f

Impatientismymiddlename Sat 07-Jun-14 15:50:23

We would need to consider raw scores and the level of actual percentage points that should be fairly considered rather than just the grade achieved as the grade boundary is quite wide and there is a vast difference between an average school, a poor school and a very poor school.

LeapingOverTheWall Sat 07-Jun-14 15:53:02

some unis do ask for raw marks, not just grades, certainly in Maths.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sat 07-Jun-14 15:53:48

Impatient I know what you are saying- my own experience is that this kind of grade equivalence isn't so important at the A* level- once they are at that level, the students all tend to do pretty well, it's more around the B/C division. I've found students from private schools with three B's or below often seem to struggle more, especially with independent learning skills. They (and their parents) also struggle with the idea they may not come out with a sparkling 2:1 or better, the system has led them to believe they are better than they are, essentially, although they are usually hard-working and competent enough to do the course.

There has been a lot of criticism of the A* grade not being distinguishing enough, not sure what is going to happen with A levels -return to exams, use IB, whatever, we have to make decisions now on what the system is like now and I think some small (as in one/two grade) measure of flexibility depending on school is acceptable and fair.

PhaedraIsMyName Sat 07-Jun-14 15:55:54

No I don't think it is reasonable.

I went to a traditional university (I.e one that was a university before John Major turned every tech college in to a university) from a state school . I'd have hated to get in on special circumstances. Primary and Secondary state education should be pulled up not Tertiary education dumbed down.

Nomama Sat 07-Jun-14 15:58:19

What is it with the concept of 'fair'?

Whatever it is being discussed is always something that will never be 'fair', will always be one of the very many inequities in life. But people insist on getting very upset that they and theirs are being disadvantaged. Then they suggest a 'fix' that just moves the inequity onto another section of society.

It is what it is, a privilege, something to be worked hard to achieve.

I'd be more inclined to tell your kids useful things like, be careful what email address you use on your UCAS application, DizzyBiatch@hotmail.com is likely to get your application slapped into the No pile. Oddly kids and their parents don't believe me when I say it, but when the UCAS woman says it, they may take it on board.

One of my brightest was horrified when we said that johnnybigballs wasn't a good email address to use!

AlpacaLypse Sat 07-Jun-14 16:00:12

Apologies, I started writing this ages ago but got a call to arms from Real Life. Minor crisis over now so back to something far more entertaining smile - however I may have xposted something chronic!

There are so many factors in the differences between state and private. We are fortunate to live in a town with an Outstanding state secondary (Ofsted said so only last week smile) and also a very well known public school, three HRHs are recent old girls. Grades wise the two groups come out remarkably similar, even though the class sizes are much smaller in the public school. It is the added extras that make the biggest difference, for instance doing DofE is automatic at the public school whereas the state school is unable to provide enough volunteers to run the awards for every child who wants to do it - this year I think about a quarter of the children are doing it, although over half the year applied. Many of the state pupils are doing all sorts of 'extras', paid for and taking place outside of normal school hours, and the fact that their core education is being covered by the state is what frees up the cash for this. There is no way we could afford to privately educate our dds completely, but there is enough money for a couple of sports clubs, weekly music lessons, and private art and language tuition. But on paper my dds would apparently have the same level of deprivation as children who came from illiterate homes and had spent most of their non-school time gaping vacantly at MTV.

CaptainSinker Sat 07-Jun-14 16:01:02

YANBU. Maybe not all state school pupils, but certainly the most deprived. A child from a school where hardly anyone goes to university, who maybe has to work after school, who doesn't get help with homework, never mind tutoring, who doesn't have a quiet place to study, and still gets reasonable grades shows such enormous potential to achieve that they must be given a chance.

My friend who went to a top private school struggled at university at first because she wasn't used to structuring and managing her own work. She was so hothoused that she could barely cope without someone other shoulder walking her through things. It was really hard for her and she feels set up to fail a bit.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sat 07-Jun-14 16:01:49

Phaedra It won't dumb down Tertiary education at all, it will maintain or increase its standards- because more bright students whose potential has not quite been reached by A-levels will attend. There are a finite amount of places at top unis- the question is about composition of this finite amount.

As for 'special circumstances' I would not call getting AAB instead of AAA 'special circumstances', because it sets and maintains a minimum bar- if you don't reach this, you don't get in whatever your background.

shockinglybadteacher Sat 07-Jun-14 16:05:15

YANBU. We need to start thinking about these things.

I went to a average to slightly dodgy state school and came out with Highers at AAAAB and CSYS at AB. (The Bs were both German, which is a bastard of a subject if you ask me). Rocked up at uni to find that I was, and remained, the only state school student on my course. RG university.

The only state school student. This wasn't 1930, it was 1998. I was the only state school student to graduate in my class. I was teased a bit and called "chav". One of the things they found funniest was me talking about dinner and tea, because posh people mean different things by that grin When I look back at that though it was really weird - I was the only person from a normal school? Private schools make up something like 8% of the school population, and my entire class at university was people from Eton and Gordonstoun? (And before anyone asks it wasn't a very brainy subject).

If this is still the case, we need to do something to address it.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sat 07-Jun-14 16:06:48

But on paper my dds would apparently have the same level of deprivation as children who came from illiterate homes and had spent most of their non-school time gaping vacantly at MTV no, they wouldn't because the admissions officers are able to look up the average grades for this school and see they are the same as the private school or indeed other schools around the country. It is not a blunt state/private divide.

hellsbells99 Sat 07-Jun-14 16:06:52

This is an interesting thread but I don't think general measures will be implemented. I do think occasionally allowances are made (and should be IMO) for a child coming from a very disadvantaged background and school.
My DCs go a normal comp and my friends DCs go to a local private selective school (well one has left and gone to uni this year). I can see differences in the education and experience (as you would expect). The main disadvantage at the comp is that the DCs are all at different levels of ability and some subjects (all except 1 initially in year 7) are taught in mixed ability groups. Even at GCSE, a lot of the subjects except maths, English and science are mixed ability. This does make the teaching more difficult/slower and also means there are some DCs that don't want to be there (or are finding it too difficult) and disruption does occur. On the positive side, my DCs have learned to self-study - particularly in the subjects where they haven't managed to finish the syllabus before GCSE and AS exams!
Regarding D of E - both of the schools offer this. The main difference being the cost and the fact that my DCs get to go on expedition to Snowdonia and the private school DCs were offered Alaska and Canada!

wobblyweebles Sat 07-Jun-14 16:07:50

I was one of these state-educated children who got slightly lower grades than most of the other privately-educated on my university course (I was offered BBB and actually got AAB).

I was taught Maths A level by a teacher who had never taken Maths A level, and was learning some of the curriculum with us as we went along. Mostly we just taught ourselves.

Similarly I taught myself most of my Geography curriculum at A level, because the teacher just wasn't capable. She retired the following year.

I was at a school with an intake of 150 students per year. 4 went on to university. The year before that, 1 went to university.

At no point in my school's history did they get a single student into Oxbridge.

wobblyweebles Sat 07-Jun-14 16:09:08

Oh and I recently took a standardised test here in the US, as I was considering doing a university course, and I came in the top 1% among graduates. My A level results don't really reflect that.

hellsbells99 Sat 07-Jun-14 16:12:09

shockinglybadteacher - don't want to 'out you' but would be very interested to know what university that was? My DD is looking at uni this year and I think would want to avoid that one! smile

shockinglybadteacher Sat 07-Jun-14 16:14:53

Hellsbells, I'll PM you smile

tabvase Sat 07-Jun-14 16:18:04

YABU

I was from a deprived background and gained a scholarship to an independent school. If what you're suggesting was in force in the 00s, then I would have been discriminated against DESPITE "overcoming all the odds" (so sick of that phrase) and may not have made it to my chosen university, in favour of a poor student from a state school whose grades were not as good as mine.

I admire the principle behind trying to ensure a level playing field, but don't disadvantage those who have made it into a "better" school and shown they are just as worthy of university studies as someone from a state school. Positive discrimination is not how to go about it.

Olga79 Sat 07-Jun-14 16:20:43

Of all the people I knew at uni (not just on my course) I only knew one other person who'd been to a non-selective state secondary (Nottingham btw).

I found it hard tbh, not because they weren't perfectly nice people but just because I was trying to live on a lot less money. It's easier when others are in the same boat.

calmet Sat 07-Jun-14 16:21:35

It is about choosing the best candidates though. In my school I am not sure anyone would have even known how to apply for a scholarship to an independent school. In reality going to University at all was very rare from my school. So yes, the universities should take that into account when assessing a students ability.

After all universities want the best candidates, so they should choose students on whatever measurements show are the best candidates. And if that is not only grades, then yes they should take other things into account.

wobblyweebles Sat 07-Jun-14 16:24:53

I was from a deprived background and gained a scholarship to an independent school. If what you're suggesting was in force in the 00s, then I would have been discriminated against DESPITE "overcoming all the odds" (so sick of that phrase) and may not have made it to my chosen university, in favour of a poor student from a state school whose grades were not as good as mine.

I think you've totally missed the point TBH. This process would not mean universities chose 'poor students'. It would just mean that they would recognise that not every bright but deprived kid was lucky enough to win a scholarship to an independent school.

Hogwash Sat 07-Jun-14 16:25:13

It's tricky. There are some excellent state schools around, sometimes in expensive catchment areas - wouldn't you then have to grade state schools too? Plus, it's not just about education, it's also about home life, so do you then assess and grade the amount of support and encouragement a child has at home too?

tabvase Sat 07-Jun-14 16:25:40

^ In my school I am not sure anyone would have even known how to apply for a scholarship to an independent school. In reality going to University at all was very rare from my school.^

See, this is what the Govt should be addressing - raising aspirations and expectations in ALL schools for those able to achieve - not just pigeonholing some pupils in some schools as "worse" than others and therefore changing the achievement expectations for them.

As usual, though, the Govt isn't addressing the root causes of the low aspiration culture and is instead throwing money at quick superficial solutions that don't work in real life.

tabvase Sat 07-Jun-14 16:31:06

No, if universities chose poor students, they'd have chosen me automatically no matter what school I went to. It would be means-tested admissions, which is a daft system, but even so it's slightly less daft than these ridiculous proposals - as they don't account for poor students at good schools.

tiggytape Sat 07-Jun-14 16:31:40

This already happens - lower offers can be made if a student's grades are predicted to be lower due to personal circumstances or attending a school where teaching and progress is poor.

My own experience was a lot like shockinglybadteacher's. I was the only state school pupil on my (very sought after) course at a RG university. The offer I received was much lower than the official grades required. I interviewed well as I was (and am) absolutely passionate about my subject. It was a slightly surreal experience though to be the least advantaged / poorest student there and to have had such a different start. It didn't hinder me at all - it was just socially a bit odd.

It is about finding the best people for each course and good universities already recognise that. A Level grades are only part of the picture in assessing suitability.

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 16:32:05

"l. They will also probably spend their weekends stacking shelves in Tesco rather that going on a D of E trek. "

That's why, contrary to popular belief, extra curricular activities make bugger all difference to university applications.

shockinglybadteacher Sat 07-Jun-14 16:37:05

It was the same with me - in my school you just didn't apply to independent schools.

I remember one kid in the year above me got accepted to Oxford to do law, she made the front page of the local paper. The teachers got massively overexcited and tried to make all of us apply to Oxford - from me (AAAAB and still wasn't going to make the standard) to my best mate (BCD and no award, the B was in drama). We laughed at it, didn't apply and continued along our own paths. I think she was the first state school kid from my town to go to Oxford, or something.

Viviennemary Sat 07-Jun-14 16:38:43

No I don't think it is a good idea. Plenty of state school pupils are privately tutored. Also there are state schools and state schools. I am not against applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds being accepted with lower grades. But don't make it all state schools or else you will get the usual pushy middle class types claiming places for their darlings.

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 16:47:19

Special consideration for kids on FSM might be a good idea- although I await the standard Mumsnet flaming for the suggestion.

ComposHat Sat 07-Jun-14 16:54:07

I don't think anyone is suggesting that sll state school students be given lower offers or that people eith 3 N grades are allowed to fo Medicine at Oxford.

What is being suggested (and I wholeheartedly agree) is that a raw A level grade divorced from the context in which that a-level was achieved is a poor measure of academic ability. Therefore it is sensible to make relatively minor adjustments to allow very bright students from schools who have low average a-level grades and no traditional of sendimg students to university to compete on a more evrn footing.

OwlCapone Sat 07-Jun-14 16:56:33

There is a world of difference between a state grammar school and a state comprehensive, and less difference between a state grammar and a selective independent.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sat 07-Jun-14 16:58:27

tabvase the point isn't just to take students who are poorer though, but students who have the best potential but may not have had the opportunity to have had it realised. To a large extent, your playing field in being able to obtain top grades was leveled by winning a scholarship to a good school with excellent average grades, why not allow that for other similarly clever students who didn't have one? Your achievement in gaining a scholarship, and in doing so from a deprived area, wouldn't go unnoticed by an admissions tutor, so you (or someone like you) would still look impressive.

I think everyone is oversimplifying the process, there's much more to take into account than a state/private divide- and grades just handed out on the basis of these. It is not a quick superficial fix- this preferring of high achievers who aren't at the best schools has been going on for a long time- certainly this is why Oxbridge still interviews as well as looks at predicted grades, because they know once these students with slightly lower but still excellent grades from poor comps come to them, they tend to do very well indeed.

shockinglybadteacher Sat 07-Jun-14 16:59:27

Hakluyt that makes a lot of sense! That way we are getting past "state school but well off" and "state school but privately tutored". If you're on FSM your parents are unlikely to be forking out bucketloads of cash for a private tutor, and you are also not particularly likely to be attending a beacon state school.

Welshwabbit Sat 07-Jun-14 17:00:06

I think some universities already do this. I have certainly heard tutors from Oxford and Cambridge talking about it. And if you do it in the way they do - i.e. looking at the whole picture, taking into account predicted A-level grades, GCSE grades, type of school and interviews, I really can't see a sensible argument against it. They are simply picking the people they think are going to do best on the course. I fundamentally disagree with people who suggest that this is somehow "positive discrimination" in favour of state school pupils, or that it unfairly disadvantages independent school pupils. It is the admissions tutor's job to select the candidates who will perform best on their course. Of course they should take into account all relevant information - including where the candidate went to school, and what that is likely to mean about their A-level predictions/results - in making that judgment.

I think, however, that there is a potential problem if universities are selecting without interview and apply a blanket rule e.g. that a state school C is worth an independent school B. There doesn't seem to be research to justify sweeping statements of this kind, and it also fails to take into account the particular circumstances of the individual candidate (who, as people have said above, may just be a lazy git who is capable of achieving a higher grade but chose not to).

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 17:23:26

Why are some people assuming that state school children are coming from difficult backgrounds? Obvosly many will but equally many will come from average families who just can't afford to educate their 2.4 children (or whatever the statistic is these days) at £3K per term.

I went to a state school. I had educated, intelligent parents who had a lot of input into my education and dedicated a lot of time to my learning. My accountant dad coached me through maths and my mum coached me through english. This benefited me hugely. Should my grades have been adjusted accordingly?!

Welshwabbit Sat 07-Jun-14 17:35:21

I went to a comprehensive. My Mum is a primary school teacher. I definitely got a head start with the reading! But by the time I was at high school I'd gone beyond the level at which my Mum could usefully coach/teach me, and I had to teach myself higher aspects of (GCSE!) maths that were apparently beyond my high school maths teacher. Ditto parts of the history and French syllabi at A-level.

We all have anecdotal examples, but it is obvious that, in general, the class sizes and financial limitations in state comprehensives at least make it more difficult to produce a teaching programme tailored to all members of the class. That means teachers often have no choice but to work to the average, often to the detriment of high-performing or low-performing members of the cohort. No system of choosing students for university courses is perfect, but surely one in which this general point can be taken into account is better than one where it can't?

creamteas Sat 07-Jun-14 17:39:17

As an admissions tutor, I would love to be able to take full account of contextual data, but average entry grades are a part of university league tables.

So if you admit students with potential on lower grades you are in danger of dropping places, and conversely if you want a higher league table place you raise entry grades.

I am perfectly aware that an applicant with BCC (with the B in a relevant subject) is usually perfectly capable of getting a a 2:1 if they work hard, yet our standard offer is ABB.

I would much rather take a BCC student who was really interested in the subject than an ABB student who is applying because going to university is just the next stage of eduction.

WhereAreMyGlasses Sat 07-Jun-14 17:51:10

Universities already do this
On the University of Bristol's website it states: "We may make lower offers based on whether an applicant is deemed to have experienced an educational disadvantage."

from here www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2013/may/16/universities-are-right-to-accept-state-school-students-with-lower-grades

CharlesRyder Sat 07-Jun-14 17:58:28

That would be to admit that children in State schools underachieve en masse would it not?

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 17:59:45

"There is a world of difference between a state grammar school and a state comprehensive"

No there isn't. A state grammar school is simply the top set of a state comprehensive school being educated in a different building.

eddielizzard Sat 07-Jun-14 18:00:58

a university's job is to educate, not provide social engineering. get good grades, you get in.

Welshwabbit Sat 07-Jun-14 18:04:11

"No there isn't. A state grammar school is simply the top set of a state comprehensive school being educated in a different building."

Hakluyt I don't think that's quite right. It's the top set of a state comprehensive being educated in a different building, and split into sets there, meaning that the ability range within grammar school sets is going to be much narrower than within the comp sets.

I met a retired grammar school teacher at the weekend who told me that teaching in a grammar also involved teaching a range of abilities. I agreed with him, but pointed out that in small comprehensives you could well be looking at a GCSE history class ranging in ability from A* pupils to kids who are going to fail the exam. Put like that, he agreed that there was a big difference - and there often is.

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 18:08:41

Very few comprehensives fail to set nowadays. I wold be amazed if anyone likely to get an A* in history is ever educated with anyone likely to fail.

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 18:09:19

And actually, none of the grammar schools I know set for anything except maths.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 18:09:46

"No there isn't. A state grammar school is simply the top set of a state comprehensive school being educated in a different building."

I could not disagree more. Grammar educated children are at an advantage to children educated at a comprehensive school.

nicename Sat 07-Jun-14 18:22:21

What about a bright child who wins a full scholarship to a private school?

Or an 'outstanding' grammer/state school kid versus a child at a 'failing' normal state school.

Or the child who is sent private by parents who work like mad to afford to send their only child private as the local state schools are failing and they can't afford to move (or have any more kids) versis a very well off 'right on' and well connected family who send their kids state (like David Cameron) and probably spend their money on tutors/fantastic holidays/ clubs/ trips/ oxbridge nannies etc?

Or a child given a flying start going to private prep then whose parents scour the league tables to move to the catchment area of a 'top' state school?

Or those who can afford the £million+ home next to a very good/ourstanding state school.

Its not cut and dried.

Lilymaid Sat 07-Jun-14 18:24:33

A friend's son, studying at a state sixth form college in a relatively deprived area, got a lower offer for a highly rated course several years ago. What the university didn't take into account was that his parents were both university graduates, and one was a professional in the subject the son was going to study.
I am in favour of some level of tweaking to favour state educated candidates from schools with lower rates of university applications/students with disadvantaged backgrounds. Not in favour of generally extension to all state school candidates including those at highly selective grammars/sixth form colleges.

softlysoftly Sat 07-Jun-14 18:33:36

No one has mentioned that there are varying degrees of private school, some far worse than an excellent state school.

My private school was good, had a great mix of children from different backgrounds eg my best friends mum was a nurse who worked her arse off to afford it (I think but don't know she got some funding). We all worked very hard and continued that ethic at Uni. Whereas the private my cousins went to was full of "dumped" boarders, behaviour was atrocious and actually academically a very small % went on to university. To do well out of there was an achievement in itself. Another set of cousins basically went to one that fit the typical private stereotype and their results were very much "purchased" as have their careers been ongoing through social contacts.

You can't blanket private as you can't blanket state, that isn't the solution. The 1st set of cousins grades would probably have been more "valid" than mine but mine far more valid than the second set.

Roseformeplease Sat 07-Jun-14 18:37:04

All state schools are not equal.....

All private schools are not equal....

I went to a non-academic, takes everyone private school because my parents lived abroad and it was the only option. 8/100 in my year went to University and we had classes of 30+

I now teach in a tiny, remote rural school where my son is in tiny classes (2 for French, for example) and 25% go to University. My DD is there too and even in younger years classes are tiny.

I have some concerns as well with penalising adults (18+) for decisions made by their parents when they were too young to know the consequences and ask for different choices. Although, on the other hand, many parents don't have a choice..

Aah confused.

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 18:37:32

The single most accurate indicator of academic achievement is parental income. There are no children from poor backgrounds at private schools.

(Apart, obviously, from the battalions of kids personally known to mumsnetters who are at private school on full bursaries that cover all trips, extras and uniforms)

Welshwabbit Sat 07-Jun-14 18:37:35

There were sets in my small rural comprehensive for English and Maths, but not for subjects like History or Geography at GCSE because the numbers of pupils taking those subjects were too low to allow for setting.

By contrast, in my husband's grammar school, there was setting in most subjects.

caroldecker Sat 07-Jun-14 18:38:05

OP your argument appears to be that students who perform worse at uni should have a higher A level grade to get a place. Based on your assumptions this suggests black and Asian students should be forced to have much higher grades than white students as they perform less well.
Is this your argument, and if not why not?

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 18:39:14

Welsh- probably a good idea to look at the situation as it is now, rather than as it was when you were at school, yes?

Aeroflotgirl Sat 07-Jun-14 18:40:21

It should be on ability and merit not social status

Welshwabbit Sat 07-Jun-14 18:43:20

Replying to a few other messages, I agree with nicename that it's not cut and dried, but this is about universities trying to do their best with limited information. It is absolutely not about penalising applicants because they are rich or went to a good school; it is about trying to work out the life advantages some applicants may have over others, which may mean their potential is over-stated, on the information available. Which is why I think an interview is a much better means of selection than using the form and grades alone - the more information you have, the better.

Welshwabbit Sat 07-Jun-14 18:44:25

Hakluyt, nothing's changed at my old school, or at my husband's. My anecdotal evidence is no better and no worse than yours!

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 19:14:38

Surely children who went to a state school in special measures should get priority over a child whose mummy and daddy could afford the premium on the house next to an excellent state school?

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 07-Jun-14 19:21:47

candy

Judging by this thread, yes.

Reality is, the excellent state schools have quotas to fill and often the child in the school in special measures could have gone there too.

Raidne Sat 07-Jun-14 19:22:02

of course there are poor children at private schools, Hakluyt.

My local private school publishes a list of fees to be paid according to income and with a household income of £19,000pa the fees would be £201 per year. I'm sure it is not unique amongst private schools.

toomuchtooold Sat 07-Jun-14 19:54:55

YANBU - from the point of view of the universities, if you're looking at a state school educated and privately educated kid, both with same A level results, the state school one's probably brighter/had to work harder and is therefore more able to benefit from a university education.

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 19:57:43

"My local private school publishes a list of fees to be paid according to income and with a household income of £19,000pa the fees would be £201 per year. I'm sure it is not unique amongst private schools."

I think it might well be!

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 20:09:58

If schools and socioeconomic backgrounds are taken into consideration, then it's not acceptable to lower the eligibility criteria to all state schools. After all, a child at a grammar school has a huge advantage over a child at a school in special measures. I would support that but not a general rule that implies that all state educated children need an extra boost. Those at a super selective grammar school should have no problems competing against their privately educated peers.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 20:23:09

"It should be on ability and merit not social status"

That's exactly the point. This new research has found that students coming to university from state schools as a group perform better than students with similar A level grades from private schools. This suggests that A level results are not as reliable an indicator of ability and potential as might be hoped, because they are influenced by education spend at secondary and primary.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 20:24:53

candy - the research compared children coming from comprehensives with children coming from academically selective (including grammar) and private schools.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sat 07-Jun-14 20:26:43

"The single most accurate indicator of academic achievement is parental income. There are no children from poor backgrounds at private schools."

No it's not.

It's the academic achievement of the mother, and the level of involvement by the parents.

shockinglybadteacher Sat 07-Jun-14 20:27:02

Haklutyt is telling the truth.

At the school I went to, there were pupils who were looked after children (that is Scottish speak for pupils in care) and we also took on a large proportion of pupils who had been expelled. A pal of mine was a talented art student. She missed her Standard Grade art exam because her mother, a heroin addict, was having a bad day and said she would slit her wrists if my pal wasn't there to sit with her. She balanced those things and decided not to sit the exam.

For kids who have to worry about stuff like that, wouldn't it be important to take it into account?

Andrewofgg Sat 07-Jun-14 20:38:42

It's the academic achievement of the mother, and the level of involvement by the parents.

OP My mother's academic achievement was low, because when she reached 17 (in 1942) she was being brought up by rellies who saw no value in girls' education; I'm not having a go at them, they were people of their own time, born in the 1880s.

My father's academic achievement was multiple degrees, including an external doctorate earned after he lost his sight; and the sort of linguistic ability (and corkscrew mind) which made him one of the crackers of the Enigma.

My academic achievement was not in that class but it was high and higher than my mother's. They were both heavily involved in my education.

So I take exception to your formulation which is sexist. I suggest that it's the academic achievement of the higher-achieving parent, if both are around, and of the one who is if one is not, and the level of involvement of whichever parent or parents is or are around.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 20:42:51

If we know that A Levels are not a reliable indicator of ability, then we need to look at the admissions criteria for university; not further unlevelling the playing field.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 20:48:06

Hmmm. Maybe we shouldn't lower expectations for state schooled applications but raise the bar for private and grammar schooled applications?

Andrewofgg Sat 07-Jun-14 20:52:16

Candcoatedwaterdrops Forgive me if I have trouble seeing the difference.

Does anyone else think that asking applicants about their parents' educational and work background is impertinent and a breach of their privacy?

Andrewofgg Sat 07-Jun-14 20:53:01

candycoatedwaterdrops Forgive me also for the typo in your nickname.

CharlesRyder Sat 07-Jun-14 20:55:48

So I take exception to your formulation which is sexist

That isn't gimmer's personal formulation. It is a statistic produced by research.

Obviously no statistic holds up against individual anecdotes.

jamdonut Sat 07-Jun-14 21:05:25

I've not read all the thread but was incensed by a post which said state school children were more likely to be stacking shelves in Tesco on a weekend rather than go on a D of E trek! Surely the fact that they are holding down a job and getting continuous work experience is just as important as D of E? And in my daughter's case she has managed to do both ...she has bronze and silver Dof E plus works in Argos at weekends. The sad fact is,we can't afford to give her money so she has to work. Can't see why she will be at any disadvantage for that when applying to Uni...doesn't it show initiative and perseverence?

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 21:07:27

Andrew To gain an overall higher caliber of students.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 07-Jun-14 21:08:56

jam it is true though. State school kids might be doing D of E but they're likely to have Saturday jobs in a shop or supermarket too.

I was relatively recently one of those kids.

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 21:12:02

And neither a Saturday job or DofE makes a blind bit of difference to university applications.

Andrewofgg Sat 07-Jun-14 21:16:23

candycoatedwaterdrops In that case they should prefer the children of highly educated people, but I don't think that's why those questions are asked.

As a matter of principle it is wrong. The questions should be about the applicants and nobody else.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 07-Jun-14 21:20:09

Hak depends how one spins it in ones personal statement. Provisional offers being made before grades are attained and all.

I for one am very good at spinning my "soft skills" as a result of all the applying to university palaver.

indigo18 Sat 07-Jun-14 21:20:10

Lemiserable as a previous poster pointed out, if you look at better class degrees, the percentages are reversed. The finding you mention only holds good for poorer classes of degree.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 07-Jun-14 21:21:12

indigo

A 2:1 isn't a poor class of degree. Only a 1st is better.

BreakingDad77 Sat 07-Jun-14 21:23:37

Aptitude isn't the barrier it's finance, we need more bursaries and industry funded places.

Andrewofgg Sat 07-Jun-14 21:40:28

No, BreakingDad77, finance is not putting anyone off applying to University.

And the moon is made of green cheese.

And the unicorn shall lie down with the Yeti, and Shergar shall lead them.

And Elvis is on tour with Princess Di, and NASA flew them both to the moon grin

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 22:21:27

Only on Mumsnet is a 2.1 a poorer class of degree!!!!

calmet Sat 07-Jun-14 22:22:46

Perhaps it is now with grade inflation? I don't know.

goldopals Sat 07-Jun-14 23:19:48

In Australia tertiary entrance is determined using ATAR scores (based on scores). In SA, students from disadvantaged schools or rural schools can get extra points.

ReallyTired Sat 07-Jun-14 23:44:11

"'m so glad my (very good) grades, which I worked myself into the ground for (including being taken off school for exhaustion), are worth less because I was privately educated. "

I think that someone who works their themselves to exhaustion and attends a private school has less potential to do well in the future. There comes a point that hard work will not be enough on a difficult course.

Perhaps we need something like CATS tests to predict potential of candidates. Maybe an educational pychologist should be involved in the interview process to assess the intelligence of a candidate for a very competitive course. I feel the final say should still be with the tutor, but extra information could be useful to a tutor.

shockinglybadteacher Sat 07-Jun-14 23:48:59

My degree's a 2.1. I have to say, without being an arse and also without outing myself, it was not a stroll in the park. No-one in my year got a First and I suspect very strongly that any MNer who calls a 2.1 a poorer class of degree would struggle to achieve in mine.

Hakluyt Sat 07-Jun-14 23:51:20

Anyone who says that a 2.1 is a poorer class of degree doesn't understand how the university system works.

ReallyTired Sat 07-Jun-14 23:53:15

I got a desmond in physics and my husband got a third in physics. In my experience employers are more forgiving of having a low class of degree in a really hard subject.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 23:55:43

Anyone who thinks that grade inflation is affecting university marking systems probably hasn't done a degree recently.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sat 07-Jun-14 23:57:19

In my vocational profession, they only care if you pass, never mind the grade. Glad I worked so hard, not!

calmet Sat 07-Jun-14 23:58:32

candy - It used to be that Firsts were very rare. You had to be exceptional, and only 1 or 2 people in your year would get them. The reality is that more people are getting firsts. Do you really think everyone across all universities has suddenly become a lot smarter?

And we did not ahve resubmissions, or practices disguised as resubmissions. You wrote your essay with only input from lectures and group tutorials, and got your final mark back.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 08-Jun-14 00:05:04

Only 4 out of 200 who graduated on my course got firsts. Less than 50 got 2:1's. That was 2010! So firsts and indeed 2:1's aren't being handed out willy nilly

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 08-Jun-14 00:06:12

I say 200, I'd have to get my graduation programme out to be totally sure of the number.

calmet Sun 08-Jun-14 00:08:44

4 out of 200 is double the amount of firsts in my year 30 years before.

calmet Sun 08-Jun-14 00:29:01
AgaPanthers Sun 08-Jun-14 00:29:18

They publish these same sort of stats about every three months. Here's the last one: www.hefce.ac.uk/media/hefce/content/pubs/2014/201403/HEFCE2014_03.pdf

The reporting is typically rather disingenuous.

Firstly, unis already do take school background into account, as is well publicised (and it's not merely a case of state vs private or comp vs grammar, there are things like which income quintile the school's catchment falls into).

The fact is that you can get into a university with any grades. So we are really talking about Oxbridge and the like here.

This article is 2 years old and explains quite clearly about how they do this already

www.theguardian.com/education/2012/jan/10/how-cambridge-admissions-really-work

It's certainly true that BBB from Shittown Comp is a better predictor of success than BBB from Eton, but the fact is that independent pupils enter with substantially better A Level grades (average ABB, versus BBC from state), and they leave with better degrees.

So there really isn't much point in talking about changing admissions, when this is already well-known.

And by the way, the difference is not that huge, for those with all As at A Level, there's no difference at all between state and private, below that you are talking about a BBB from a state school being as good (in terms of the number getting good degrees) as ABB from private. Hardly earth-shattering stuff - we are not taking students in with two Es from the ghetto and having them beat AAA students from Harrow. It's 1/3 to 1/2 of a grade higher, per A Level (depending on the level at which you are comparing), which rather puts paid to some of the nonsense about independent school students being spoonfed + clueless in comparison to their resourceful state-educated counterparts. Yes, BBB at state is better than BBB at private, but it's not as good as AAB, or AAA from a private school.

sashh Sun 08-Jun-14 01:35:55

Ask yourselves - is this how China, South Korea, Singapore etc educate their children?

Do Chinese and Korean students struggle with UK degrees? Yes they do.

antimatter Sun 08-Jun-14 01:56:36

I read this article and none of quotes or research results actually mention Grammar schools.

For instance first one says:
If you have in front of you a student from a state school and one from a private school with the same A-level grades, on average – and I should emphasise it is on average – it does appear that the student from the state school background or less effective school will go on to do better given the grades that they are entering with.

Student from a Grammar school = a student from a state school

Am I missing something here?

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 07:07:22

The article I read said it was low value state schools they were focusing on so high achieving state comps where parents buy places via property would be included in those discriminated against.

I think it's worrying as surely it gives carte Blanche to such schools to just put their feet up whereas those discriminated against will just push their kids harder.Also those kids at schools in the middle would ultimately miss out to either end.

poshfrock Sun 08-Jun-14 08:12:29

This is all very interesting. I went to a private school on a full scholarship my ( as did 2 of my siblings). My father's income (back in the 1980's) was about £6k per year. My mother did not work. Neither of my parents are educated beyond O level (my mum had one and my dad 3).
I got ACD for my A levels (excluding General Studies for which I got an A but it was not accepted for my course).

Not all children who go to private school have monied backgrounds or high achieving parents. Nor do they have extensive extra curricular experiences. I didn't do DofE or music lessons. I did spend my weekends stacking shelves in Wool worths. I also nursed my chronically ill mother and raised my 4 younger siblings throughout my sixth form which had a fairly brutal effect on my resulting A level grades ( not a fact that was disclosed to any of the universities I applied for).

From the threads on here it seems that I should have been denied a university place based on the fact that just because I went to a private school I should have got higher grades but if I'd gone to a state school they would have been ok.

I got a 2i from an RG university but using the logic that seems to have been applied on this thread I should have got a third from a poly.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 08:29:17

Poshfrock- the problem is that you are an exception. That's not how it is for most kids at private school- it just isn't. You can't use anecdote as data.

The overwhelming majority of kids at private schools- and at grammar schools come from comfortable- or more than comfortable middle class families. As do many children at comprehensive schools.

It is much easier for these children to do well than for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. It would be foolish to pretend otherwise. So some way has to be found to level the playing field a bit. And lower offers to pupil premium applicants is surely a good place to start?

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 08:42:29

But what about the ones just above pupil premium or those in the middle in average or shite schools.The two ends of the spectrum get catered for and they don't.

Andrewofgg Sun 08-Jun-14 08:45:07

Hakluyt In the end you are proposing deliberately to refuse a place to an applicant because of that applicant's school. And that cannot be right.

Level up, don't level down. Improve the state schools. It takes longer, it costs more, it's not glamorous, it doesn't create headlines, but it is the right way to go.

candycoatedwaterdrops Sun 08-Jun-14 08:46:24

And lower offers to pupil premium applicants is surely a good place to start?

I agree but it's only a start and not the end. We need to support these applicants through university when they go there or they will be at high risk of dropping out. The £9k fees are probably not helping matters either.

Renniehorta Sun 08-Jun-14 08:48:22

University is only a stepping stone to a job. I think it is at that point that a private education comes into its own. Students who have been educated privately have a whole network of contacts at their disposal, their own and those of their parents. The old boy network is as alive and well as it ever was. They also probably have the means at their disposal to take advantage of internships. If needs be the bank of mum and dad can step in to subsidise housing in London.

A privately educated student with an indifferent degree is probably going to be better off in the jobs market than his state school educated peer with a better degree.

Now how you compensate for that disadvantage I just don't know.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 08:57:01

Also re pupil premium isn't it based on kids who have had fsm in the past 6 years and includes forces kids?Surely that is open to abuse.For some families it would be worth taking a hit for a year.

As an ex forces kid myself the question re needing a leg up at uni is interesting.Yes we had a shite education which did have an impact but re being needy of this extra support maybe not.Not sure.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 08:58:27

"Hakluyt In the end you are proposing deliberately to refuse a place to an applicant because of that applicant's school. And that cannot be right"

No I'm not. I'm proposing that a child from a disadvantaged background who has by definition overcome significant difficulties to even get to the point of applying to university should be given -I can' think of the right word- a bit of extra consideration over, say, my child, who has been on a smooth easy path to university since birth.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 09:01:15

But not being disadvantaged doesn't mean you've had an easy ride.You might be not well off yourself, have unsupportive parents,a trauma or attended shite/ average schools.Kids at both ends of the spectrum having a leg up will impact those in the middle many of whom won't have had an easy ride into uni.

Andrewofgg Sun 08-Jun-14 09:03:36

Hakluyt If that extra consideration leads to a place than someone else who has not had the extra consideration does not get that place.

And what Retropear said.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 09:07:59

"Hakluyt If that extra consideration leads to a place than someone else who has not had the extra consideration does not get that place."

The person who doesn't get the place has already had advantages the person who gets it hasn't.

What happens now is that all the advantage goes one way. This way, just sometimes it will go the other way- which actually just means things are level. Or nearer level.

calmet Sun 08-Jun-14 09:09:25

University is not only a stepping stone to a job. I am glad I was brought up to value education in its own right.

Aeroflotgirl Sun 08-Jun-14 09:09:58

Universities should not lower their places. I feel it makes degrees less valuable, as every Tom, Dick or Harry can get a degree. Years ago only the creme la creme (the brightest, and most academic) used to go to the 'Red Brick' universities. Whatever the persons background, it should be on their ability.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 09:10:06

But it's not a guarantee that they have had an advantage and the rich in the private or best state schools will still get their places.The places will go from those in the middle.

Andrewofgg Sun 08-Jun-14 09:10:40

It's not about masses of people, it's about individuals. You don't correct unfairness with unfairness.

In any event you are making assumptions about the "advantaged" person which may be wholly incorrect.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 09:11:17

Also I suspect many will just apply to unis abroad thus downgrading the reputation of British unis even further.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 09:12:19

And yes I have friends on pp who get pissed off with everybody assuming their kids are disadvantaged and they don't care about education.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 09:14:13

"Years ago only the creme la creme (the brightest, and most academic) used to go to the 'Red Brick' universities."

Really? In my day the crime de la creme rather looked down on Red Bricks. But I am very old............

Aeroflotgirl Sun 08-Jun-14 09:19:20

What I meant Hak are places like Oxford, Cambridge, London, Bath, Durham you catch my drift

Aeroflotgirl Sun 08-Jun-14 09:20:09

Yes they did, primarily Oxbridge, but other older universities

Aeroflotgirl Sun 08-Jun-14 09:21:40

In those other Universities, you still had to have high academic ability

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 09:24:13

Ah. I think you might mean Russell Group- not red brick?

Aeroflotgirl Sun 08-Jun-14 09:25:08

Ok sorry I thought that they were the same smile

daisychain01 Sun 08-Jun-14 09:29:38

Ask yourselves - is this how China, South Korea, Singapore etc educate their children?
Do Chinese and Korean students struggle with UK degrees? Yes they do

Yes, and wouldnt we all struggle, if we were sent round the other side of the world, to a country where we know little about the culture, have to learn a new language and character set, both written and spoken?! Im doing my PhD at a Uni with a high % intake of overseas and they are amazing.

As regards the whole "going to uni" thing, I do feel that nowadays students need to consider whether Uni is the right HE option for them. It just seems to be a default choice instead of thinking

1. What am I good at? Where do my talents lie?
2. What is my career path.
3. How will my HE choice enable me to get closer to that general direction of travel?

If they dont know the answers to the above then they are putting the (very expensive) cart before the horse. We know more now than ever about mentoring young people to think for themselves about their future.

IME too many students pick courses without asking themselves what they will do with the qualification. "Um, its just seems like an interesting course". Fine, if they want £26000 of student debt, go right ahead. Its akin to throwing mud at the wall and hoping something sticks.

My DP and I have spoken with DS (local comp educated) about options. We helped him to understand what Uni is about and how there are alternatives like apprenticeships and vocational paths. I said to DP privately that I thought DS isnt cut out for lectures, essays etc however he is passionate about engineering, physics, from a very practical perspective. He is going into AS year in Sept with a strong commitment towards an engineering apprenticeship with 3 possible companies interested in him.

The major disruption needs to be the move away from "teaching to the test". It harks back to the Industrial Age! Helpful to Michael Gove and his ilk to spout stats and put people into convenient boxes. The world is changing, we are in the Information Age where technology can enable a totally different kind of education. it may take time for Governments to catch up but we need to maximise individual talent better than everyone being marked identically.

Its like telling a monkey, a fish and an elephant to climb a tree and failing the fish and the elephant because they aren't as talented as the monkey!

(Haven't read full thread yet) I'm afraid it just isn't that simple. Of course a child who completes a private school education is more likely to achieve the best grade they are possible of for many reasons including smaller class size. If they weren't there would be little reason paying for the education.

However, I am state school educated and have finished my degree and in many cases it is not helping university educated people to get a job. I didn't attend Cambridge but know of three people who did who after one - two years are still waiting to get a job with a first. What we need to be focusing on changing right now is the expectation that everyone can afford to do unpaid internships for a year. This sections out those with money from those that can't without taking ability or the effort put in at university into consideration. It is much worse in some industries than others. Until now we have not had the money for me to do unpaid internships and therefore I have been unable to get a job. The internships are competitive in themselves and tend to be for between 1-4 months so to get the 'years experience' you may need to wait over a year. Companies are famous for over working you and 'travel expenses paid' here (London) usually only means within certain zones. Unfortunately unless living in a city there seem to be very few internships on offer but jobs still want you to have done them which means graduates have no money to pay to live in an area to get experience unless they families are already there or they take a paid job that has nothing to do with their degree (low level retail, pub work etc) that does not give them the time to commit to an internship.

Sorry for the essay, but ime university is currently pretty worthless anyway and apprenticeships are the way forward, we need to address internships before we think about our children going to university or it won't really matter anyway - unless we have the money to support them through over a year of unpaid work in an area we may not live in. (My sister did an apprenticeship and is now happy and earning and progressing while I am sat at home applying desperately for jobs and now internships and will be ford the foreseeable future.)

Renniehorta Sun 08-Jun-14 09:45:49

Completely agree smokeandglitter. Very few of my friend's children who have graduated in the last couple of years are doing 'graduate' jobs. Many are doing what they probably would have done without a degree, but obviously are now doing that job with a huge debt.

A local M & S is staffed almost exclusively by graduates, that includes 'shelf replenishers'.

We used to laugh about needing a degree to work in a call centre in India. It is now the reality here.

I honestly think that this is more of an issue than agonising about grades. The question needs to be asked what is uni for.

I went to uni in the 70s. I value the education and the experience highly. However I walked into a graduate job and had no debt. Quite a different experience.

meisiemee Sun 08-Jun-14 09:45:59

I think you find that if 2 people got the same grades, 1 from state and 1 from private; they would probably favour the state student, as they had achieved the same as private but without the extras private educated students receive naturally in their schools.

TheWordFactory Sun 08-Jun-14 09:46:09

I'm part of the widening access scheme for Oxbridge and my colleagues feel very strongly that contextualised offers should be made on a case by case basis. And those contextualised offers should still expect a high level of achievement. It is the responsibility of state schools to improve, not the responsibilty of universites to bridge the gap.

Helpys Sun 08-Jun-14 09:53:43

YANBU
I taught in a standard comprehensive; my 3 DCs are at selective secondaries. The experience they're getting is completely different. It's not so much that the teachers are better, but being educated in small classes of peers who all feel doing homework is cool and want to go to university, who's parents all value education.
I'm certain that my dcs would be getting completely different grades if they were at state schools.

daisychain01 Sun 08-Jun-14 09:54:45

It can often be worth a Uni student planning their year in industry, normally year 3, being in a company where they can apply for work there after graduating.

My company offers lots of industrial placements to students, which gets them front of the queue for graduate scheme placements. And believe me, I have seen a mixed bag of industrial placement students, they aren't all AGraders! If you have an outgoing confident personality, it really helps, it's as much about fitting in as it is about academic qualifications.

Too many students don't demonstrate sufficient initiative, or think about "what can I personally contribute, how am I unique and can fill a gap that they would find difficult to fill elsewhere". But the ones who shine, I think, wow you're going places. And they arent necessarily private school educated either!

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 09:57:54

"peers who all feel doing homework is cool"

You know, this one always amuses me. Really? Teenagers? Homework? Cool???
Teenagers who mostly get on with it, of course. But I think that even in selective schools you have the normal amount of moaning and groaning. And a lot of the working hard but pretending not to ethos as well.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 10:00:02

Help our local selectives have classes of over 30 due to funding cuts.

Also re supportive peers kids are streamed in comps so the brightest often will be working with kids who also think homework is cool.That said two of my dc would never think homework was cool even if they went to Eton.

Not sure it's only selectives which have parents who value education.hmm

Helpys Sun 08-Jun-14 10:01:32

Hak- YY to the 'omg I've done no revision', but more texts flying between them asking for clarification about hw.

Helpys Sun 08-Jun-14 10:08:33

retro of course not. But if every child in a school is there because their parents have jumped through hoops and chosen it, then the parents as a group are more vocal about demanding continuity and adequate resources.
Remember, I'm supporting lower grade requirements for state school pupils as ime a child who gets As and A* from a state school is almost certainly brighter and more of a self starter than my spoon fed little darlings in their classes of under 20 for most subjects and as low as 7 in others.

TucsonGirl Sun 08-Jun-14 10:09:14

All it will mean is more pupils from de facto private schools like Holland Park will be able to go to university even with mediocre A-levels. It won't do a think for pupils from schools in really poor areas. The dumbing down of education has to come to an end becuase it is doing tremendous harm to us as a country already.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sun 08-Jun-14 10:14:31

Tucson there isn't an admissions officer in the country that hasn't heard of Holland Park!

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 10:21:00

I think they were talking about discriminating against all high achieving comps too- thus destroying any point re schools working hard to get good results.

Chunderella Sun 08-Jun-14 10:31:10

That is something that concerns me too Tucson, re the Holland Park thing. If this is to be done, it has to be done properly- ie not simply on the basis of a state/private divide. Because there are some state comps with very privileged intakes: schools with parents who have the same elevated level of wealth, education and engagement as the private schools over the way. No point replacing one lot of privileged kids with another because their parents purchased an education via mortgage instead of school fees.

Postcode might be better, although given the generational inequalities in housing that might not work for too long either.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 08-Jun-14 10:33:24

And calmet?

Perhaps my year were just brighter than your class 30 years before?

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 10:35:36

I thought the top state schools were included which is why the whole thing is ridiculous.

Surely it would be better to pump money,resources and good career advice into the lower state schools in order to make them as good.

Otherwise a few kids who have had fsm in the last 6 years or parents in the forces coupled with rich kids in private or those who have bought places to the top comps via property will push out those equally as deserving in the middle.

OutwiththeOutCrowd Sun 08-Jun-14 10:41:50

Thought this was an interesting piece of research. It shows that those who go to medical school from non-selective schools outperform those from selective schools in first year exams.

careers.bmj.com/careers/advice/view-article.html?id=20015863

Along with the other research already mentioned, it does seem to indicate that it would be unfair to look only at the A-level exam grades of those wishing to study medicine and not the context in which those grades were achieved.

Chunderella Sun 08-Jun-14 10:42:37

Surely it would be better to pump money,resources and good career advice into the lower state schools in order to make them as good.

In reality, that's never going to happen is it? I don't think so anyway, and I have experience of both extremes of the education system. I just don't see how there's any way that DC who are behind as soon as they're born are going to be able to compete on an even field with those whose parents bust a gut to keep them ahead. Of course there are things we can do to try and minimise this, and we absolutely should do them. But I think we need to have this discussion whilst understanding that some DC are going to be more advantaged than others whatever we do, and that any policy we design needs to reflect that. I look at my local state primary, where I went and where DD will probably go, and I see that even aged 4, the DC as a group have so many more problems than those in the more affluent areas of the city.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 10:50:39

There are disadvantaged children in all sections of society.

Chunderella Sun 08-Jun-14 10:58:37

There are, but anyone who thinks they aren't disproportionately found amongst the poorest is kidding themself.

NaturalHistory Sun 08-Jun-14 11:01:56

Don't they have a quota? I have seen admissions tutors mentioning that they can only take so many from the private sector, they also have a quota for international students and state school applicants. Many have to take more from the state sector already I think regardless of grades.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 11:03:21

"Don't they have a quota? I have seen admissions tutors mentioning that they can only take so many from the private sector,"

I would be amazed if this is true.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 11:03:34

But disadvantaging others more for a few in order to make a gov look better and let them off the hook re making things better for more is madness.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 11:11:33

"But disadvantaging others more for a few in order to make a gov look better and let them off the hook re making things better for more is madness."

I don't think it's either/or. You seem to be expecting schools to counteract the handicap a disadvantaged background imposes on some children- when much of the damage has been done before a child gets to primary school, rather than secondary.

A child from a disadvantaged background who gets to within spitting distance of a university place needs all the help and encouragement they can possible get. And that chiild's AAB show much more commitment and motivation than my child's 3 As.

TheWordFactory Sun 08-Jun-14 11:12:17

There is no quota set from outside, though some universities set targets for themselves. Obviously Oxbrige come under a lot of scrutiny, however, their ratios of state/private are better than LSE, Imperial, UCL, Bristol...

NaturalHistory Sun 08-Jun-14 11:14:11

Comment from the BBC article: A Point of View the case for not leaving education to the teachers.

As an admissions tutor for a Russell group University, I have 150 or so undergraduate places on offer each academic year. Of those 150, 80 are reserved for state schools under current government targets, 10 are reserved for independent schools, while 60 places are available for overseas students. To make my targets for state schools, I have to reduce the offer for those candidates. Insofar as overseas candidates are concerned, I reject about 100 candidates who on paper far exceed the qualifications of the state school candidates. So I am obliged to admit students on the basis of government targets rather than ability. The above might be fine, save the fact that overseas students pay £18,500 per annum and work hard. My experience of many UK students is that they complain about the fees that they pay and don't work as hard nor do they have the same level of knowledge. The above problem has much to do with attitudes as the obstacle rather than government, businessmen and/or teachers. One attitude to change, which the above article fails to acknowledge - is that we in the UK are no longer world leaders. Perhaps we should now look over our shoulder at those successful nations and observe how their governments, teachers and parents deliver education.

Langley, London

I have heard this elsewhere, is Langley being untruthful here about quotas/targets do we think? Honest question, I am no expert.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 11:24:25

But children with AABs in the middle or just over or even from the top schools may show much more achievement,commitment and motivation for a whole host of reasons.Shit happens to all regardless of what you have and making it harder for those just over pp or in the middle etc (which it will if there are less places to apply for) doesn't make anything better for those facing a difficult time.

A child just over pp or even in the middle with unsupportive parents or those going through a divorce,illness,at a shite school,being bullied etc will be just as deserving imvho as those under.

The best schools will just raise the bar regardless so you are just shuffling the places around for those not in them.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 11:25:30

And the Tories can then crow- "we're getting more disadvantaged children into uni"

No you just shuffled places.

sunshinecity17 Sun 08-Jun-14 11:27:54

You realise grammar schools are state schools? why do you think GS pupils should be considered differently from those a t comprehensives? confused

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 11:29:51

Shit happens, of course. But there are groups in society where it happens worse and more consistently. And where shit is endemic.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 11:41:17

They shouldn't but I suspect there are an awful lot more kids in high achieving comps who would be affected by this than those at gs as there are more of them.Parents buying places into the top comps via property is a bigger problem.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 11:43:19

Hak and those just over who get nothing?

Extremely low income,parents working all hours and no help with fsm,trips,pp etc.Then they would get penalised when they apply to uni on top.Madness.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 11:47:54

You could say that about any intervention. There has to be a cut off point.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 11:49:15

"Parents buying places into the top comps via property is a bigger problem."

Is it? I often hear this, and I have never seen any figures to back it up.

bruffin Sun 08-Jun-14 11:54:54

Bristol has contextual offers for state schools, my ds has a contextual offer from there.
Durham says they also take this into considrration when they make offers.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 11:59:21

Sutton rant about it enough,I guess they have their figures.

This report is focusing on kids in schools which have poor progress figures and clearly thinks thinks there is an issue between those at the best state schools including comps and the poorest.

From the bun fights you hear about on allocation day with vast numbers of parents not getting their first choice and catchments down to a few yards away wealth and buying places via property clearly is an issue although more palatable to many as more use it to their advantage.

My non London dsis has a fab comp near her she'd love her kids to go to but the house prices a few yards down the road into catchment are laughable.She has more chance of getting them into the grammar than said comp.

shockinglybadteacher Sun 08-Jun-14 12:04:40

I had unconditionals from Scottish universities (Edinburgh, Stirling, Glasgow) and mad conditionals from one English and one Welsh university because they didn't quite get the Scottish system. They were both wanting, aside from my previous grades, BB or AB at CSYS, which I did eventually get. However, given my previous grades, that was like asking for AAA at A level when the equivalent offer for an English or Welsh student was BCC or BBC. I made it, but I wasn't predicted to - I was predicted for a D and a no award at CSYS.

The admissions system is deeply weird and I don't understand it, but certainly in my day there was no discount for being state educated. There is a definite disparity between the different systems though.

lurkerspeaks Sun 08-Jun-14 12:04:46

I think there is a lot of naivety on here.

I was state educated until 16. My parents moved me because I was being bullied due to my academic performance (it was too good).

In my extremely selective, extremely expensive private school I was literally spoon fed. I went from class sizes of 30 to a maximum of 16 (that teacher just about made my Ma laugh out loud when she bemoaned at parents evening how difficult it was to teach such a "large" class).

In my private school people arrived for lessons with the correct books, stationary and generally sat down and shut up ready to learn. At my state school (which is a generally well regarded school in a naive area) the beginning of every lesson was a battle to get started.

Therefore this research comes as little surprise to me. Kids who do well in the state sector (and we are still talking about kids who have done well, just perhaps not achieved all A*)have generally had to overcome the odds to achieve this.

Anecdotally my university experiences also support this research - my flatmate for many years attended one of England's most elite public schools. He had excellent A-levels (4 or 5 As, no A* in my day, but one of those was general studies). He also fucked up every single set of exams we ever had and wasted every holiday studying for resist.

IMO he had become accustomed to being spoon fed at school and lacked the ability to plan and carry out his own work. He and I have pursued the same professional career and the path has been the same - failure to pass our professional exams has prevented him from progressing to the same level as me and the majority of our peers.

Yet on paper when you look at our school grades he is much much better qualified than me.

HPparent Sun 08-Jun-14 12:21:32

I think they can look at individual schools and adjust for that but a blanket policy of one type of school over another is ridiculous.

Btw DD1 attended a well known super selective grammar and the teaching in one subject at A level was so appallingly bad that the whole class hired tutors.

ItsDinah Sun 08-Jun-14 12:22:15

In the past there was positive discrimination for admission to sought after professional subjects at universities in Scotland. It was known that an identifiable sector of the applicants did much better in their Highers due to accident of birth, That sector had to get 6 or 7 Highers at A where the disadvantaged applicants would only have to get 5 Highers and not all As. The advantaged by birth applicants were the girls.One result was to increase the proportion of boys from working class backgrounds on these courses. Girls still do better than boys at school in Scotland. Should they not be discriminated against now? Exam results show academic attainment which is not the same as academic ability. I can't see how we can ever have a fair system unless we require only a basic pass/fail secondary school certificate and university admittance on the basis of nationally set and marked ability/aptitude tests and no interviews . Does anyone know of a country where the admissions system is fair to everyone?

shockinglybadteacher Sun 08-Jun-14 12:35:38

ItsDinah, I was in (Scottish) high school in the late 90s. You couldn't take 6 or 7 Highers in a year - I did 5 which was the maximum - scheduling wouldn't permit it. 7 Highers with equal class time for them all, how is that even possible? Especially not if you were expected to get straight As.

Also, as well as being the only state school person on my course, I was the only female for a couple of years (we got some transfers in 4th year). I wasn't asked to have 6/7 Highers compared with the boys on 4 or whatever. It was a very competitive course and we talked about these kinds of things ("of course, when I got my award to Fettes"...) and I would have known, because no-one would have been shy about telling me.

TucsonGirl Sun 08-Jun-14 12:58:37

Whatever the system is, there will be more middle-class parents and pupils (and teachers of such!) who figture out how to game it than there will be working-class people who do the same.

creamteas Sun 08-Jun-14 16:07:27

Just to clarify, there are no government imposed rules of admission of state/private pupils.

Universities do however have this measured, and some universities are under pressure to increase the numbers of state school parents.

If a universities had a quotas of places for any individual course, this is an internal target that they have chosen.

ItsDinah Sun 08-Jun-14 16:08:10

Hi shockinglybadteacher. 1970s and it worked by discriminating against girls at private schools and state schools where they did do 6 highers (if no science) or 7 (with physics and chemistry ), in classes of over 30 if privately educated although could be down to tiny classes at state schools. Routine at single sex state (yes we had them) and private schools at the time. It was also standard for state schools to offer 6 highers even ones where the teachers got paid extra to work in a deprived area. Woefully, if you went to certain state schools some university courses were impossible to get into even if you were not female. The school would offer 6 highers but not in the right combination of subjects. Suppose it was only the scruff so no-one made a fuss (semper idem?) I know lots of folks with 6 or 7 highers from that era and they didn't all go to university or ever consider it. The school day was 9 to 4. Not all subjects had equal time. Generally less time for subjects everyone studied from 1st year and more for ones you picked up later. The requirement for more and better highers from girls certainly discriminated most effectively against girls at state schools. That kind of gender discrimination was outlawed and the proportion of girls in professional courses shot up so that they formed the majority in medicine and other professional courses although not on the course you did (why not?) We still have hideous inequality of true opportunity. Lowering the exam results expected from the scruff would be one way of evening things up. Would what that admitted be acceptable ?

NaturalHistory Sun 08-Jun-14 17:04:20

Thanks, Cream teas, are there broad Government targets though that RG universities tend to stick to even if not yet mandatory? Is this 'the pressure' you mention that Universities are under to admit more state school pupils? What are the 'current government targets' referred to below or is this all completely false do you think? Thanks:

As an admissions tutor for a Russell group University, I have 150 or so undergraduate places on offer each academic year. Of those 150, 80 are reserved for state schools under current government targets, 10 are reserved for independent schools, while 60 places are available for overseas students. To make my targets for state schools, I have to reduce the offer for those candidates. Insofar as overseas candidates are concerned, I reject about 100 candidates who on paper far exceed the qualifications of the state school candidates. So I am obliged to admit students on the basis of government targets rather than ability.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 17:06:27

"Of those 150, 80 are reserved for state schools under current government targets,"

I am as sure as I can be that this is not true.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sun 08-Jun-14 17:14:14

I am also pretty sure that this is not true of our RG university, we have way more than 10 out of 150 private school pupils (about 6/7%), indeed the majority of our students are from private, grammar or overseas and not from standard comps. You can tell this is not true if you look at the % private vs state in the RG sector.

If the unis set their own internal targets, that's different, but the ones I know don't, although they have widening participation initiatives and that includes people who don't have A levels but do access courses and things like that.

alwaysblonde Sun 08-Jun-14 17:15:05

No YABU because external boards mark exam papers and pupils have to meet the same criteria to meet the grades, whether in free or private school. They are marked blind.

Positive discrimination isnt fair either. What about children who did got to private school but have really struggled and have worked hard to get results but are then disadvantaged again.

That said, A level grades alone aren't an accurate reflection of how able you are.

I'm not privately educated, but husband is and I will be doing everything I can to get my kids into private school. This experience of school is much nicer than mine and whilst his friends have lovely manners, the kids I went to school with are all complete chavs

Thenapoleonofcrime Sun 08-Jun-14 17:18:03

Also, most universities are expanding if they can, we can recruit AAB grade students without any limits (below that and the universities are restricted), and these students are more likely to have come from private/grammar sector- so that's another existing source of over-representation.

caroldecker Sun 08-Jun-14 17:20:14

this article shows that universities have agreed targets with the govt. They achieve this by telling the admission teams to meet them. So they are not directly set by the government, but that is the reality.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sun 08-Jun-14 17:31:20

www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9946510/Half-of-top-universities-cut-state-school-admissions.html

This article is a bit out of date in that it refers to data from '11/12 but basically shows that despite the rhetoric around widening participation in fact places such as Bristol are taking in more private school students than ever (40% plus). There may be talk of targets, but universities like money, and private school pupils in general have wealthier parents, so providing they get AAB, there is no limit on their expansion in this sector.

I also read that in 2010, 46% of Oxford students went to private schools, and less than 1% were on free school meals.

I don't think some people on this thread realise just how favoured private school pupils currently are, and why people in education are keen to try to identify clever but disadvantaged students, it isn't a form of dumbing down at all, if anything the standards may go up if more disadvantaged comp students are included.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 17:34:50

There's a big difference between targets and quotas!

NaturalHistory Sun 08-Jun-14 17:36:08

From the article Caroldecker posted: However, figures show 11 Russell Group members have opted to use state schools as a specific target measure. Might the alleged admissions tutor upthread have come from one of these? 150 places in his subject and 80 have to be given to State school pupils perhaps? Is that really not feasible?

Thenapoleonofcrime Sun 08-Jun-14 17:59:47

The article I posted says that all but 5 RG unis (of which there are more than 20) haven't met government 'benchmarks' on widening participation. This suggests most of them don't have this as a priority, compared with increasing income etc.

One of the biggest problems of widening participation is not just the grades, it is that private school pupils are much better advised on what subjects to take to secure places at top unis, state school pupils are often allowed to take choices which effectively rule them out of many courses and institutions. Private schools know which the 'acceptable' subjects are say for medicine, engineering, and the sciences and don't let their students scupper themselves before they start (e.g. by dropping Further Maths).

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 18:05:16

" 150 places in his subject and 80 have to be given to State school pupils perhaps? Is that really not feasible?"

No. Because he categorically stated that he had a quota he had to fill, rather than a target he had to aim at. Very different things indeed

NaturalHistory Sun 08-Jun-14 18:14:11

He talked about 'targets' specifically not quotas but I take your point.

TucsonGirl Sun 08-Jun-14 18:14:41

"Private schools know which the 'acceptable' subjects are say for medicine, engineering, and the sciences and don't let their students scupper themselves before they start (e.g. by dropping Further Maths)."

Surely the question should be why state schools don't do this as well? It can't be an issue of they don't know, so why are they misadvising their pupils?

CarmineRose1978 Sun 08-Jun-14 18:18:36

I really hate the idea of social engineering on this level. I'd much prefer to go back to grammar schools and the eleven plus, though that had its flaws of course. I hate the idea that high-achieving poor children might fall by the wayside in state education, because their parents can't afford a private school (and thus secure superior teaching and opportunities). I can see why people think that messing around with the grades is the answer, but it really isn't. As do that, why not simply bump up the grades of all state students... you get an extra 10% added to your mark if your state school is average, an extra 20% if it's struggling, an extra 30% if it's in a really bad area etc. No-one would think that was fair, but it's essential the same thing. It's just a sticking plaster on all that's wrong with our education system.

Disclaimer: After being an overachiever at my tiny state primary school, I went to an excellent private school, on a government assisted place (we were very poor). I got excellent results at GCSE and A Level. I went to an excellent university after receiving six offers in my final year at school. I then messed around and got a 2.1 degree because I no longer had anyone pushing me to do my best, and I suddenly had freedom from a high-pressure environment. I was a little mortified by my 2.1, and went on to get a distinction at MA then a PhD, before moved into publishing.

My brother, meanwhile, equally intelligent but completely without motivation of any sort, went to state school, messed up his GCSEs and A Levels, couldn't be arsed with university so worked in a factory for several years. He then managed to get an office job, moved into IT, became a consultant and earned about twice as much as I do, working from home and choosing his hours.

What lesson to take from this, I don't know...

DogCalledRudis Sun 08-Jun-14 18:20:34

Who cares. Places will be given to Chinese who pay inflated rates even if they can barely speak English.

shockinglybadteacher Sun 08-Jun-14 18:24:51

Really do not love 11 Plus as a solution. My mum passed her 11 Plus (in England) and went to the local girls' grammar school. It was a route to her being the first person in her family to go to university. However my dad failed his (in Scotland) went to a school where all he can remember is people shouting at him. He left school at 14 to start work and while he worked his way up, he still bears a grudge that he was essentially written off at 11. I don't think it's going to improve social mobility while we have large underlying issues.

TheWordFactory Sun 08-Jun-14 18:25:58

Tuscon I never cease to be both amazed and furious at the misinformation or lack of information provided by many state schools.

The insistence that all qualifcations have equivalence is alive and well...

Curioushorse Sun 08-Jun-14 18:29:02

Gosh. How interesting. I had no idea anybody would think this was a bad idea!

I teach in a VERY deprived inner London comp. We have, this year, got our first ever child into Cambridge. He is also, to my knowledge, our first ever child to apply.

We have another eight students with offers from RG universities. All of them are either lower offers or, the kids have been given an offer without any extra curricular activites.

Two years ago we had a child who'd been through the care system accepted by kings to do medicine. He definitely did not have three As.

All of those kids will excell. They've managed to get to that stage with inconsistent teaching, class sizes of 32, lots of disruption due to behavioural problems. They also wob't have a parent who's been to university, will have EAL and probably exist on benefits. They have already got to this stage against the odds. I'd say they're a gift to the universities!

CarmineRose1978 Sun 08-Jun-14 18:33:24

shockingly the writing off of people at 11 is the huge issue with the 11 plus... I completely agree. One option to try to remedy is to offer repeated opportunities for people to move into the grammar school system at 13,14 and 16. But that only works if the non-grammar school education is good enough for kids who bloom later to be able to catch up

I certainly don't think secondary moderns were a good thing, but state schools are meant to be considerably better than that. In theory, anyway. In fact, I kind of feel that at the moment, practically everyone who goes to state schools get written off at 11 anyway, with the exception of the few really good schools, usually in great areas and filled with middle class kids. Is that any better?

TheWordFactory Sun 08-Jun-14 18:33:38

curious contextualised offers have been an agree part of university life for a long time.

The applicants you are talking about received such offers and should and will continue to do so.

But what is being suggested on this thread is a system whereby an applicant from state school (no matter how good the school and how advanataged the applicant) recieve blanket lower offers.

This can't be good!

CarmineRose1978 Sun 08-Jun-14 18:34:05

Basically, I don't know what the answer is... I just don't think that offering lower grades to state school students is the answer.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 18:34:41

"I really hate the idea of social engineering on this level. I'd much prefer to go back to grammar schools and the eleven plus"

How on earth would that help!

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 18:37:01

"Basically, I don't know what the answer is... I just don't think that offering lower grades to state school students is the answer."

Obviously not. But offering lower grades to pupil premium pupils might well be a bit of an answer.

sunshinecity17 Sun 08-Jun-14 18:39:09

I think this is a ridiculous idea.The students are not 10 year olds they are 17 and 18
.They are old enough to hunt down books,revision guides, online resources, past papers, mark schemes.All these things are cheap or free
They should not expect to be spoonfed by their school.

TucsonGirl Sun 08-Jun-14 18:40:33

Grammar schools were fantastic, the problem was with the secondary moderns. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater was the problem. We need Grammar schools and other schools teaching vocational subjects, not vainly trying to force academic subjects onto kids who have absolutely no interest or aptitude in it.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 18:42:08

"I think this is a ridiculous idea.The students are not 10 year olds they are 17 and 18
.They are old enough to hunt down books,revision guides, online resources, past papers, mark schemes.All these things are cheap or free
They should not expect to be spoonfed by their school."

OK- so then we have to make sure that pupils in private schools and grammar schools have to do it by themselves too. No help from parents, uncles and aunts, older cousins and siblings at university, teachers...........if one group should not expect to be spoonfed then neither should any other.

Thenapoleonofcrime Sun 08-Jun-14 18:42:31

TheWordFactory- who has suggested that though? I don't agree with that, I agree with the contextualised offer system already in place, but which some people are surprised exists. The research didn't suggest it either. The only place that it could be suggested is that the government require unis to show what they are doing to widen participation and increase access but they don't suggest which measure to use, for example, you might use free school meals or postcodes as measures of disadvantage. I very much doubt most unis think all state school pupils are disadvantaged- I know mine has an internal ranking system that would offend many but is based loosely on average GCSE/A level scores.

Surely the question should be why state schools don't do this as well? It can't be an issue of they don't know, so why are they misadvising their pupils? The reason is partly league tables, so state schools 'look better' if their pupils get say an A in tourism whereas that pupil may not have got an A in a subject like maths or physics. Secondly, they may not know about this, just as they don't in general put on Oxbridge classes and use their knowledge of the system to make sure students are on an equal footing with those in the private system. They tend to allow students to choose what subjects they want, ending up in strange combinations which then mean they can't do certain subjects at uni, whereas private schools are prepared to be more prescriptive as they know their RG/Oxbridge entrance figures (which is what a lot of private school parents look at, not general A level scores) would be scuppered by this free for all.

MorrisZapp Sun 08-Jun-14 18:42:49

Yabu, this whole idea is just rotten imo. There are so many variables within both sectors. I went to a state school, or 'school', as we called it. It was totally normal, hard work was rewarded, brighter kids went to uni etc.

Thats what schools do, isnt it? I'm already massively advantaged by having educated, engaged parents. No survey required, we all know how key that is. Should my grades from my school have been lowered because it wasn't private?

It's a crazy idea.

Hakluyt Sun 08-Jun-14 18:45:49

We have grammar schools where I live.

A local stand up comedian brought the house down by saying "if your kids have friends at the grammar school, make sure you have sat nav and snow tyres"

The implication being that very many grammar school pupils live in big houses in the country.............

TucsonGirl Sun 08-Jun-14 18:54:02

The biggest advantage kids can have is to have parents who are supportive of their education. And that isn;t something that the government can overcome.

creamteas Sun 08-Jun-14 18:59:35

We all know that education is not a level playing field.

Currently those with resources (in different forms) get a significant advantage. This is a form of social engineering, one in which privilege can be reserved for an elite.

The question is, for me, how to try and reduce the inequalities. What saddens me is that so many people argue that trying to address inequality is taking social engineering too far angry

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sun 08-Jun-14 19:01:37

Tucson girl, you are right, but in the absence of supportive parents, smaller class sizes, better extra curricular provision and homework support clubs offered by schools for free would go some way to bridging the gap.

sunshinecity17 Sun 08-Jun-14 19:07:09

can someone explain why grammar school pupils should be discriminated against for being naturally clever?

So if you have 2 towns .Town G has a GS and takes (say) 10% of the cohort, Area C has a comprehensive system.So assuming that everything else in our hypothetical towns is equal, why should the top 10% of pupils in C school not have to achieve the same grades as the pupils in town Gs grammar school?

Andrewofgg Sun 08-Jun-14 19:07:46

Agree Lemiserableoldgimmer but all that can be done without cheating another applicant of a place. It just costs money.

By contrast downgrading another applicant's efforts is free and therefore popular with Governments. Please don't encourage them.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 19:07:57

Hak how ridiculous.Talking like that just puts people from applying.We have several grammar schools near us that have all sorts of intake.It's just not true that all grammar kids live in big houses.

Cream "elite" means a select few.If committed parents are an educational advantage then sorry talking of an elite few having this advantage is just wrong.There are a whole host of other different advantages kids can have,are we going to penalise for all of them all?

Andrewofgg Sun 08-Jun-14 19:12:54

My College at Oxford has a long record of looking for stare-school applicants (such as me forty-odd years ago!) and a few years ago at a reunion the admissions tutor read a letter he had had from the HT of a school in a county which the University had asked them to canvass.

The HT said that no, she would not encourage her pupils to apply to Oxbridge however bright they were. Theirs was a working-class catchment area and sending them to Oxbridge would cut them off from their roots because they would mix with "over-privileged snobs".

And this was the only answer they got from scores of schools. This was the HT who had at least had the courtesy to answer - how many others are binning such letters and their most able pupils' prospects with them?

Andrewofgg Sun 08-Jun-14 19:13:24

*state-school. They did not teach me the use of the keyboard!

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sun 08-Jun-14 19:13:45

Sunshine - on current evidence comprehensive school pupils are being discriminated against because as a group they are losing places at the best universities to less able grammar school and private school pupils who just happen to have better A level grades because they've had more teaching time and less exposure to behaviour which disrupts teaching and learning.

tiggytape Sun 08-Jun-14 19:14:05

The thinking behind it is that that disproportionally more grammar school places go to wealthier and middle class children than to children of equal ability but from poorer backgrounds. This is why many grammar schools are now giving priority for children on free school meals who pass the 11+ but who don’t’ necessarily score in the top 200 or whatever is normally required to not only pass but also get a place.
That’s not to say there are no poorer children in grammar schools already but all the figures show that bright children from poor backgrounds are not there in the numbers that they should be.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sun 08-Jun-14 19:16:01

Retro - grammar schools in the UK take in vastly disproportionate numbers of private school pupils compared to other state secondaries.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 19:17:17

Said research says it's kids from schools with low progress stats that are losing out and kids from the better comps have the same advantage as kids from private and grammar schools.

I love the way the buying of places via property in the best comps is always quietly sidelined in these threads.grin

caroldecker Sun 08-Jun-14 19:17:55

If we think the problem is in state schools, surely that should be fixed rather than universities.
Perhaps by allowing state schools which have the freedom to act like private schools and encourage a private school ethos -it is very little to do with money and small classes, more to do with engagement and demanding expectations.
There is no reason any neuro-typical child should achieve less than a C at GCSE and teachers should say this loudly and often - demand more and people will often deliver.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 19:18:23

Lemis could you link evidence to show that.

All grammars?

tiggytape Sun 08-Jun-14 19:22:17

caroldecker - private schools have complete control over their intake. Not only can they select by ability (not necessarily high ability - although many aim for that but certainly filtering out very low ability children at least), they can also select on attitude and behaviour. They are allowed to interview children. They are allowed to remove children who are disruptive. Basically they do not have to contend with the sorts of problems state schools must just deal with and cannot avoid.
It isn't just smaller class sizes that brings an advantage.

tiggytape Sun 08-Jun-14 19:27:08

The point about private school pupils and grammar school pupils was in the news recently here

2.7% of entrants to grammar schools are entitled to free school meals (it is 16% on average in state secondary schools)
12.7% of entrants to grammar schools come from outside the state sector, but only 6% of English 10-year olds are enrolled in independent fee-paying schools.

shockinglybadteacher Sun 08-Jun-14 19:29:32

Sunshine, are they "naturally clever" only though?

My dad's from a small town, his mum was a cleaner and his dad was a miner. It wouldn't have been normal for him to have passed the 11 Plus, he didn't know anyone who did. But he had a small hope in his heart, realistically though it was never going to happen. Neither he nor his siblings passed the 11 Plus.

My mum's parents were an executive and a SAHM, loads of books in the house, completely different situation. She was expected to pass because "God knows, you're intelligent enough" tested on her homework, in trouble if she brought home a bad report. She and her siblings passed the 11 Plus.

There is a definite class factor there, and even controlling for class it doesn't always make sense. I would have failed the 11 Plus because I had a learning difficulty with maths - once I was free of having maths imposed on me :D I did a lot better at school. I still can't do that or verbal reasoning (my dad said "he couldn't figure out the point of the questions" when I've done IQ tests I can't either). However, I did OK at university and was accepted onto a MA course. While I'm not Brain of Britain, I wouldn't have appreciated being chucked out at 16 to work in Tesco based on an exam I did when I was 11.

creamteas Sun 08-Jun-14 19:32:05

it is very little to do with money and small classes, more to do with engagement and demanding expectations

It is all about money.

Money for schools to be able to provide decent resources for all pupils. Money to pay staff to work with students that are struggling.
Money to pay for food for kids that are coming to school hungry.
Money to provide uniform for kids kept at home, because their only shoes. have fallen apart and wearing trainers will get them punished.
Money for parents so they can spent less time worrying about being evicted so they have the head space to be engaged.
Money to support parents who cannot read and write fluently enough to understand what the expectation.
Money to pay for laptops for kids unable to write due to disability, but don't qualify for a statement.

Money to.... (add your own)

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 19:33:20

12.7% is a long way off the 100% quoted.

Sutton mentioned parental aspirations as a particular barrier ie parents not thinking grammar is for them(which some comments on here won't help with).

So we're back to parental aspirations having a big impact,how are you going to penalise for that?It goes across all classes.The poorest kids in China do better than the richest kids here.

caroldecker Sun 08-Jun-14 19:55:04

creamteas of course this is the normal postion of all state educated children - ffs

Rivercam Sun 08-Jun-14 20:03:03

However, not all state schools are equal. State schools in Harpenden are better then state schools in inner city Walford. How do you differentiate between them?

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sun 08-Jun-14 20:06:13

Carol - it's got nothing to do with a private school ethos.

If state schools could 'lose' the lowest 15 achieving children in each class and replace them with 5 high achieving children I can guarantee you that their results would improve massively.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 20:06:39

Some schools in the same town aren't equal.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sun 08-Jun-14 20:08:49

Retropear - not being able to control for all variables is no justification for opting out of addressing one of the most glaring, widespread and institutionalised inequalities, that of the impact of selective schooling at primary and secondary.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 20:09:44

Lemis the lowest achieving state kids in secondary schools are shoved in the same classes and kept away from the highest achieving state educated kids.So the brightest state kids who go to uni aren't actually working with low achieving kids.Lets be honest.Sate education is hardly a utopia of equality.hmm

revealall Sun 08-Jun-14 20:10:12

But it doesn't take many of the children in creamteas scenarios to impact the rest of the class.
The hungry child that can't focus disrupts the rest. The child with no shoes needs the TA to go and find a spare pair or phone the parents etc.
These problems slow everyone down.
These problems don't happen when the intake is carefully chosen.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 20:11:41

Yes mis but how are you going to tackle the bigger problem of selection by property?

I should think every town has a school not favoured by parents who choose to live on the other side of town in order to get their school of choice.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sun 08-Jun-14 20:13:03

Retro - most schools only set for a small number of subjects.

Primary schools rarely separate pupils completely by ability. My clever 10 year old spends most of his time crammed into a classroom with 29 other children, of which three have significant behavioural issues and no allocated one to one support.

Lemiserableoldgimmer Sun 08-Jun-14 20:14:22

Retro - you want to get your kids into a grammar don't you? Is that why you're tying yourself up in knots to argue against the recommendations of this research being put into practice?

revealall Sun 08-Jun-14 20:17:52

My solution was mentioned by somebody else.

No one can go to Uni until they are 20. That gives students 2 years to decide if they want to do it and to gives the less academic students time to demonstrate other skills.

Retropear Sun 08-Jun-14 20:20:49

Nope only one of mine.

Can't wait for the other two to go to the local comp.They'll be in the top sets for everything and will get everything thrown at them in order to get the much lauded AAB and uni places.

Your state primary is obviously different to ours.The kids are setted for literacy and numeracy with the top groups having separate sessions.The bottom also go off.It's not unusual as I had a similar set up in many schools I taught in.

TheWordFactory Sun 08-Jun-14 20:31:19

lesmis you seem to be saying that because the state system is failing high ability children, that universities should be the place to resolve that.

This is frankly, the best way to reduce standards at university, and won't help the most disadvantaged at all.

These DC need a good standard of education prior to 18. And constantly insisting that tertiary establishments reduce their standards, won't go any way to pushing that!

creamteas Sun 08-Jun-14 20:46:28

This is frankly, the best way to reduce standards at university, and won't help the most disadvantaged at all

This is simply not necessarily the case, I have worked at RG and (much) lower ranked universities and if managed properly, taking people with lower grades does not lower standards.

Yes, you might need to put more time and effort into them in the first year, but that doesn't have to be done in lectures/seminars. There are different ways to support people, and if you have a decent student support centre, they can learn to learn there.

In the area I teach, about half of my first years will have studied the subject at A level, and the other half have not. By the end of the first year, there is no difference between the students.

So obviously I am used to mixed ability in the first year, but there is absolutely no reason why this could not be done in other subjects around grade differences.

TheWordFactory Sun 08-Jun-14 20:50:47

I think if you indiscrimineatley reduce entry standards, you will end up with many students who are not remotely disadvanataged, but are simply of medicore ability and/or lazy.

You will also end up being somewhere that the real high achievers generally avoid.

University is a collegiate experience and you need a good concentration of high ability students to properly challenge one another.

I teach in a place where the standards are mixed and you simply don't get the academic rigour that you get at more selective universities. IMVHO the high ability students are woefully under served.

caroldecker Sun 08-Jun-14 20:52:54

So creamteas this mixed ability set-up works perfectly at uni, but destroys the hopes and abilities at secondary?

TheWordFactory Sun 08-Jun-14 20:55:31

It doesn't work perfectly at university carol IMVHO.

What it does, it drive standards down to ensure that all can cope.

It discourages the brightest students and discourages the best profs too.

The lectures and seminars I give at the less selective university and Oxbridge are not even in the same ball park.

creamteas Sun 08-Jun-14 20:57:05

you simply don't get the academic rigour that you get at more selective universities

That is not my experience at all. It might be different for different disciplines, but the standard of discussion, insight and writing I got from the best students at a BCC entry grade university was pretty much the same as when I taught at an AAA institution.

TheWordFactory Sun 08-Jun-14 21:01:24

creamteas I simpl don't recognise that.

For a start, the students at the less selective university do a hell of a lot less reading. A hell of a lot less written work. A hell of a lot less preparation for tutorials (of which they have precious few).

Yes, at the end, the less selective uni hands out a commensurate number of firsts and upper seconds, but frankly, it's a joke!

Slipshodsibyl Sun 08-Jun-14 21:05:07

'but the standard of discussion, insight and writing I got from the best students at a BCC entry grade university was pretty much the same as when I taught at an AAA institution.'

This hasn't been my experience, though due to practical reasons (mature entry/location / commitments etc), universities with lower entry requirements will have students with higher potential or achievement than those requirements.

creamteas Sun 08-Jun-14 21:11:28

For a start, the students at the less selective university do a hell of a lot less reading. A hell of a lot less written work. A hell of a lot less preparation for tutorials

That is not my experience at all. I have worked at 3 universities,and at each one:

The number of tutorials has always been exactly the same (one hour per week for each module).
The reading requirement for modules has been more of less the same.
Some students don't do the reading, but the numbers have been about the same.
The lowest ranked university actually had a higher requirement for writing.

mellicauli Sun 08-Jun-14 21:23:56

We have semi grammar schools that are 25% selective, 25% distance, 10% selective, 40% siblings. So if you got in on distance should you have to have the distance grades or the grammar school ? What about the siblings? It doesn't really work does it?

Also it may be that private school kids are more likely to drop out because their contacts and wealth give them lots of other interesting options. It may not be because they can't cope intellectually.

smokepole Sun 08-Jun-14 22:22:35

DD has been offered :Leicester Chemistry and Forensic Science with 3Bs ,usually the course requires ABB . DD is predicted 3Bs ( if everything goes right ! an A in Chemistry) from her Secondary in Kent! . It has been said, that the University took the school in to consideration when offering the course with 3 Bs.

smokepole Sun 08-Jun-14 22:25:55

Meant to say DD1.

Scholes34 Sun 08-Jun-14 22:32:38

DD is at state school, does DofE treks, works in a supermarket and has fingers clicked at her to attract her attention by people who think state school pupils don't do DofE treks and spend all their spare time working in supermarkets.

arkestra Sun 08-Jun-14 23:40:16

The universities want the students who will do best with their courses. Clearly A-level results are a good predictor of this. Equally clearly there are other relevant factors to consider.

This is surely obvious, and to concede this is not to say that every state schoolchild should be put in one box and every private schoolchild in another; nor is it to say that universities should admit students who are unable to cope with the course; nor is it to say that we should set hard targets for how many private schoolchildren are offered etc etc etc.

It would be great if one could buy entry to a Russell Group Uni by chucking money at the problem, but we aren't quite there yet, thank God - I can understand how this irks some of those with the money, but the Admissions Tutors have the interests of their Universities at heart, not the convenience of well-off parents. If an Admissions Tutor is not attempting to take all relevant factors into account, they are not doing their job properly.

Many of the sons and daughters of the monied will get through anyway. I remember my time in Cambridge. There was a well-known syndrome of the student who had been helped over the qualifications line by excellent schooling, who then breathed a sigh of relief and coasted gently to a gentleman's/ladies third or low 2:2. Bit like a knackered old racehorse who had finally got around the last lap. Lovely people, great company. I couldn't help wondering whether someone else could have made better use of their space, but that wasn't their fault of course.

caroldecker Mon 09-Jun-14 00:30:03

Historically it was the monied students who paid for all the busaries etc. Still does in the US - if a rich student pays £30k a year and therfore provides 2 full busaries for poorer but more academic students, is this a problem?

fortheloveof01 Mon 09-Jun-14 01:19:07

It shouldn't make any difference. They're all measured by the same yardstick. What should perhaps make a bigger contributing factor to whether someone gets a place or not is the work experience and extra effort they've put into non-curricular stuff. That would be a better measure of their mettle and may correspond better to whether they would stay the course or not.

Hakluyt Mon 09-Jun-14 05:42:58

"What should perhaps make a bigger contributing factor to whether someone gets a place or not is the work experience and extra effort they've put into non-curricular stuff. That would be a better measure of their mettle and may correspond better to whether they would stay the course or not."

Trouble is, most work experience and extra curricular stuff involves money and/ or parental involvement.

wowfudge Mon 09-Jun-14 06:19:34

I disagree. I went to a state comprehensive where I excelled academically. Great A level results. Ime it's the average students who perhaps don't get the push they need at state schools, but I don't think that lowering university entry requirements compensates for that - surely it perpetuates it?

Cambridge rejected me - my interview there was one of the most belittling, patronising experiences of my life. Example comment, 'Imagine a derelict house; you must see lots of those where you are from.' ???!

I went to a RG university instead where I had a great four years and had the opportunity to go abroad for a year as part of my studies.

Years later I came to the conclusion that I wasn't what the college or course at Cambridge wanted for whatever reason (not a public school product or perhaps just too middle class to fill their particular state school quota) and that it was their loss.

Hakluyt Mon 09-Jun-14 08:26:00

The problem is that some of us are talking about groups and some about individuals. Of course not all disadvantaged children will do worse and not all privileged children will do better. But for the vast majority that's how it is. And it is for the "vast majority" that the measures have to be put in place.

TheWordFactory Mon 09-Jun-14 08:32:45

hak I think it's far too great a generalisation, to say that state educated applicants are disadvanataged.

I mean, what are we saying about our state system if that's correct?

That it's substandard. That we need to moderate entry requirements across the board to reflect how poor it is?

No. We need to deal with contextualised offers on a case by case basis, with establishments being regualarly assessed as to how this is panning out.

Hakluyt Mon 09-Jun-14 09:01:02

Sorry- I thought we had agreed that the state/private thing wouldn't work- it must have been just in my head! I'm thinking about advantage for pupil premium kids.

Retropear Mon 09-Jun-14 09:09:55

But what about the kids just over pupil premium or those in the middle?

Also when you consider pp numbers (which are tiny anyway) the maj when you consider the percentages of all kids in Russell group unis won't want to go or even be suitable even if all had help to get in.

You can't just hand out places to make the gov look good and say we've tackled inequality and social mobility.Err no you haven't you've just taken a tiny number of places away from others equally deserving and those from the top private schools will continue to be over represented.

TheWordFactory Mon 09-Jun-14 09:16:37

I think the applicants who have attracted PP are already receiving contextualised offers.

TrueGent Mon 09-Jun-14 09:34:25

I've done that rarest of things and gone away to have a think about this.

I have no solution but some random points/questions:

- I like the idea of blind/anonymised applications, with no reference to name, school etc. but this is perhaps a reflection of the poor quality of UK state education in relation to private and international provision;
- I think part of our problem stems from Kenneth Baker removing normal referencing (i.e. 'Bell Curve') from the marking system of GCSE and A levels - this enabled grade inflation and removes the ability of institutions to differentiate between high-achievers (all those A* grades!);
- I compared our system with those of China, South Korea and Singapore because they produce highly-qualified and ambitious graduates, which I admire;
- Why not remove State involvement in the university sector altogether? (i.e. allowing them to select on whatever basis they want) Some will go for high grades, others for lower ones (i.e. larger pool of people);
- My objection to the suggestion that state school pupils be accepted with lower grades is partly selfish, I admit. I went to state schools all my life and would have been one of those to 'benefit' from this idea - I got 1 A, 2 Bs and a D (back when those grades meant more than they do now - 1991). I ended up working alongside colleagues who went to Eton, Winchester, Rugby etc., most of whose grades were same or worse than mine.

TheWordFactory Mon 09-Jun-14 09:51:49

I think it's fine to assist those whose education has held them back thus far. However, they still need to arrive at university with a decent skill set if they are to thrive, particularly in the most selective places. Raw intelligence is not enough.

arkestra Mon 09-Jun-14 10:21:07

Agree people do need to be able to cope with the course!

But really good people can make up a lot of ground very quickly.

I remember someone who got in for Classics despite knowing no Ancient Greek - on condition that they got up to speed over the summer holidays between offer and starting university. Which they did, because they were (as the interviewers recognised) exceptional.

And some Cambridge colleges would make EE offers (yes, 2 "E" grades) to some as far back as the mid-80's. So dropping to very low offer levels has actually been done for some time.

TheWordFactory Mon 09-Jun-14 10:30:55

I agree ark that some people can make up a lot of ground. But equally they might not. It serves no one to have students struggling with basics.

As for the old EE offers, well they were made when Oxbridge still had entrance exams.

The low offers were usually made to those with sterling O levels and who had performed well in the entrance exams and interviews. Most achieved well over the EE offer grin.

These days, contextualised offers can and are made, but applicants will have shown their promise via GCSEs, AS, interview and many will have sat the new aptitude tests etc.

arkestra Mon 09-Jun-14 11:05:06

Yep wordfactory I agree it's in no-one's interest to get students who can't cope.

So I would not argue for "sympathy offers" to be made to people who are missing great chunks of necessary presentation that seem impractical to make up, just because their school is rubbish.

But I don't think that the admissions people make such offers in practice - why would they?

The truth is that almost every offer is a calculated risk (unless you have someone obviously exceptional, but truly exceptional people are rare).

After all there is more than one way of not coping - for a demanding course you need a combination of preparation and ability/interest. You can make up a certain amount of missing preparation but no amount of tuition can compensate on the ability front.

Take maths, which has a fairly definite filter - there comes a point (unless you're Alexander Grothendieck) where things just Get Too Hard and people have to drop out if they hit their personal filter point. For some it's O-level, some it's A-level, some it's halfway through their degree.

All the degree-level maths faders I saw had excellent A-level results.

But I'm not saying that universities should ignore A-levels and general preparation levels. It's just that some on this thread (not you) seem to have the idea that taking other considerations than A-level grades into account is somehow intrinsically inappropriate or unfair, and I don't get why.

BreakingDad77 Mon 09-Jun-14 11:11:14

Im a state school product, I went to Portsmouth in late 90's (a former polytec) and we had lectures everyday, through the day, and wednesday afternoons too. So you had to make a choice between sport and their studies if that was your thing.

I probably wouldn't have gone if todays fee system was in place, i was first of family, I had forces planned if I hadn't got into university as my parents were very clear that going on benefits wasn't an option, and there didn't seem any decent non degree career paths as already university students were being dropped into supervisor roles that people historically could work up to and cause a kind of glass ceiling.

I blame the universities a lot as they abused the governments assistance by putting on degrees in Madonna etc just to milk state money which then just gave later governments ammunition to scrap fees and grants.

I do believe though that industry needs to cough and sponsor places if it wants talent. I dont think wages have jumped in light of the fees etc, well not in my sector.

ComposHat Mon 09-Jun-14 11:24:20

Oh god, the 'degree in Madonna/David Beckman/ Miley Cyrus' canard.'

Can anoyone point to the University which offers a BA in Madonna?

arkestra Mon 09-Jun-14 12:01:20

I think the poster is talking about Media Studies courses, which do have a relatively poor record in terms of employment for graduates.

Many would like us to offer more hard science type courses, in part because they are more valuable economically. So there is genuine concern, eg: Number of universities offering media studies degrees 'tripled in past 10 years' (Guardian, 2012)

But the universities are responding to demand here. Not sure what the answer is TBH.

TheWordFactory Mon 09-Jun-14 12:42:32

ark I agree that no university wants to make offers to applicants they don't think will thrive, but they do come under a certain amount of pressure to do so.

Oxbridge in particular comes in for lots of scrutiny and there is pressure from the public, the media and the governemnt for them to increase their state school intake by whatever means.

Durham, Bristol, LSE et al face less pressure, of course, despite having poor ratios and making less effort to widen access.

Setting quotas rather than making contextualised offers on a case by case basis will, IMVHO, mean a higher drop out rate or the downward movement of standards to deal with drop out rates (which is something you definitely encounter in establishments who make low offers).

MistressDeeCee Mon 09-Jun-14 12:48:52

Youths either get the grades, or they don't. Why should those with lower grades get into University? I don't agree with that at all. My DDs didn't go to private school. 1 started Uni last year, the other starts this September. They worked hard and got the required grades.

This just sounds very archaic. Apart from the usual suspects its not as if Uni's are swarming with private/grammar school educated students anyway, there are people from all walks of life there.

Or is this is just about reverse snobbery - not being interested in most Uni's really, just wanting DCs to get into the ones deemed 'posh'...?

bruffin Mon 09-Jun-14 13:16:18

Durham, Bristol, LSE et al face less pressure, of course, despite having poor ratios and making less effort to widen access

As pointed out above Bristol does have contextual offers and Durham does take into account school when making offer.

bruffin Mon 09-Jun-14 13:17:39

Meant to say because of the contextual offers from Bristol, DS and several friends have Bristol as their insurance.

Slipshodsibyl Mon 09-Jun-14 13:29:30

'As pointed out above Bristol does have contextual offers and Durham does take into account school when making offer.'

Durham also offers a foundation year in many subjects for those who need to get up to speed.

BreakingDad77 Mon 09-Jun-14 13:58:17

ComposHat during that time period there were those types of 'degrees' on offer.

TheWordFactory Mon 09-Jun-14 14:07:24

Yes Bristol etc make contextual offers but the effort they put in to widening access isn't as great as Oxbridge

Takver Mon 09-Jun-14 16:42:03

"As for the old EE offers, well they were made when Oxbridge still had entrance exams."

Not necessarily - I went to Cambridge when there were no entrance exams (late 80s), and they were definitely still giving matriculation (ie EE) offers then based on interview, aptitude tests etc.

CharlesRyder Mon 09-Jun-14 17:00:38

Somebody in the year above me at school got an unconditional offer on interview. That would have been 1997.

nicename Mon 09-Jun-14 17:20:11

I got an unconditional too (mid 80s) after an interview. I was 17 and had stayed on an extra year after my Highers to mess about in the art department study some more until I was old enough to go to uni.

TheWordFactory Mon 09-Jun-14 18:23:46

Apologies, I didn't mean to give the impression that Oxbridge stopped giving double E offers all together.

But they were pretty standard when there were entrance exams and they certainly tailed off when entrance exams were abandonned. Not defunct, but not common.

Far more common now, is a high offer, even for those who did extremely well at interview, aptitude test. Cambridge are very fond of the A* offer!

I think mine was the last year of the Oxford entrance exam, and I did my A levels in 1996. The general paper was really interesting, and I remember two of the questions I answered were "Can a pile of bricks be art?" and "Is it rational to fear death?" The interview was terrifying when my future theology tutor got me onto the subject of free will and I eventually ground to a stuttering halt, convinced I was going to get rejected. Knowing I only had to get two Es to get in took some of the pressure off! Although I did get AAB in the end, at a state grammar school in one of the more deprived areas of my town.

Chunderella Mon 09-Jun-14 20:58:19

There was someone in my school who got EE offer in 1995. I was under the impression they stopped quite soon afterwards, certainly by the time I applied in 2001 we were told they were a thing of the past. This was at Oxford, I don't know about Cambridge, but the former tended to have slightly lower offers generally.

caroldecker Mon 09-Jun-14 21:06:36

Unconditional offers have not been allowed for many a year. The government would not fund a place unless a minimum of EE, hence the oxbridge offer.

BreakingDad77 Mon 09-Jun-14 21:53:47

Been thinking of something my tutor telling me how things could change when fees come in as your no longer a pupil being sponsored by the state, you would now be a consumer of which you have paid money for a service.

bruffin Mon 09-Jun-14 22:10:34

Caroldecker
on the UCAS support thread this year there were a few unconditional offers to students with good AS levels from Birmingham, Nottingham and Leicester and probably others.

Hakluyt Mon 09-Jun-14 23:24:09

Two of my dd's classmates got AA offers from Oxford this year. Which, frankly, for a potential Oxford candidate is practically an unconditional offer!

Takver Tue 10-Jun-14 14:25:27

"Youths either get the grades, or they don't. Why should those with lower grades get into University?"

Because there is a world of difference between
1) an A* from a private school pupil who has had excellent teaching in a class of say 8 all working at B/A/A* level, and

2) an A from a pupil at an overstretched state school with an A level class of 30, where many are going to do well if they get a D/E grade, and said pupil ends up teaching themselves most of the curriculum from revision books.

Its bloody obvious when you get to uni which is which, hence why the latter student is more likely to get a 1st or 2:1.

whattimeisitanyway Tue 10-Jun-14 14:35:55

YANBU. It must be incredibly difficult in practice but I think it is an idea well worth considering if it allows Universities to select the brightest students.

antimatter Tue 10-Jun-14 21:14:19

My nephew had had an EE offer to read natural sciences in Cambridge 6 years ago.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 11-Jun-14 09:29:04

'My nephew had had an EE offer to read natural sciences in Cambridge 6 years ago'

Christ's was the last College to still be doing this - until 2010 - but it has been phased out.

The unconditional offers currently being issued by some universities if you agree firm them are, in reality, for the benefit of the universities, not the students.

unrealhousewife Wed 11-Jun-14 10:34:07

Don't the low results students just end up dropping out? The wouldn't be able to keep up. It sounds like a university scam to me, get the fees paid without having to teach so many students.

creamteas Wed 11-Jun-14 11:40:30

Don't the low results students just end up dropping out?

At my university, there is no correlation between entry grades and failing or dropping out. We are always trying to identify retention issues, and do the analysis every year on multiple factors.

There is only one consistent factor in failing/leaving is lack of engagement and this happens to a range of students for different reasons.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 12:12:59

I would have thought that the kids who have had to battle against the odds to get their place are far less likely to drop out than the ones like mine, who are on train tracks to university, frankly.

TheWordFactory Wed 11-Jun-14 12:43:21

The figures on drop out rates show that the more selective universities have lower rates; Oxbridge, Bristol, LSE...

The highest rates come from less selective establishments; University of West Scotland, Bolton, University of West London, Swansea Met...

However, there will more factors at play than simply lower grades, I should think. The later universities will have a higher proportion of mature students, particularly those coming to a degree via an access course. These students have a higher likelihood of dropping out.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 13:00:35

Also often students who go to schools that haven't sent many to university, or from families who haven't find university life harder. A couple of the ones ds's school sent last year (only the second year they'd sent any) dropped out because they couldn't adjust to the life- even though they were doing OK academically. Theses kids are also more likely to go to the lower tier universities.

Quangle Wed 11-Jun-14 13:13:01

I totally agree with this. I went to Oxford and there were plenty of people there with three As who were really not particularly bright. Just good schools (privates and grammars), lots of coaching. They shouldn't have been there.

The difficulty is coming up with a system that really does identify the bright ones.

smokepole Wed 11-Jun-14 13:18:01

Mature students, who in many cases have been let down by the education they received at school. They have achieved far more just getting on a 'access' course than some students with first class honours degrees .

Thank god some 'CRAP UNIVERSITIES' will at least give people a chance.
This site that tends to have a left wing bias politically, but has a very 'Elitist' attitude to education and that is awful.

Mature students drop out because of Shit going on in their lives, maybe because they have not been taught study skills or maybe out of desperation they choose the wrong course.

Mature students should be congratulated for having the 'Bottle' to even pick a book up, never mind enrolling on a course.

TheWordFactory Wed 11-Jun-14 13:31:05

Hak yes, that's correct. Also, many mature students are trying to juggle work/families with stdy, whilst trying to find the extra cash for books, transport etc.

smoke I don't think anyone said mature students shouldn't be admired. Not quite sure why you're getting so het up...

But what I will say, is that I don't think all the establishments who accept underqualifed applicants are doing it out of a sense of justice and fair play. Many are offering an extremely poor education for exacvtly the same cost as much better establishments. They are parting a certain sector of society from their money and offering something piss poor in return!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 11-Jun-14 13:38:29

Mature students are more likely to have things come up which mean they need to intercalate, or indeed drop out - children who need them at that point more than they can manage whilst studying full-time; elderly or unwell parents, house moves, etc - IME. That's all I think anyone was saying, rather than having a downer on mature students.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 11-Jun-14 13:41:15

'Theses kids are also more likely to go to the lower tier universities.'

I'm not sure exactly which you mean here, but some universities which are not the most selective are very good at teaching and students might not need to be such independent learners from the start. It isn't as simple as dividing between selective and not very selective. But students need a head of sixth who knows about the differences between them. I don't think that calling all places of higher education 'universities' did anyone any favours. They aren't all doing the same job.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 11-Jun-14 13:43:11

'Many are offering an extremely poor education for exacvtly the same cost as much better establishments. They are parting a certain sector of society from their money and offering something piss poor in return!'

And you need a head of sixth who can advise about this too.

writtenguarantee Wed 11-Jun-14 13:50:59

This just sounds very archaic. Apart from the usual suspects its not as if Uni's are swarming with private/grammar school educated students anyway, there are people from all walks of life there.

Unis aren't. But the top ones are.

The best students should be let in, not the ones with the highest grades. It's obvious from this money can buy you a place at a good Uni. if B state school pupils do as well as a A private school pupils, that should be taken into account.

Woozlebear Wed 11-Jun-14 14:02:31

Yabu. The focus should be on making state schools better, not handicapping private school pupils to compensate for state education for being inferior!

And if people feel that a levels are provable not a reliable indication of ability, they should be calling for the exam to be changed, not for the grades to be treated differently if you're rich/poor.

I'm also sceptical about this as I would I imagine this greater 'ability' shown by state pupils once at uni is in some cases down to a greater drive to prove themselves, in contrast to some private pupils who will have been so hot houses they'll slack off once they escape parental supervision.

But more than anything I believe this kind of discriminatory social engineering is just morally wrong, especially when it ignores - in fact encourages, in this case- the root cause, which is that a lot of state schools just aren't about enough.

ExcuseTypos Wed 11-Jun-14 15:05:40

Yes the focus should be to make state schools better, but that will take years. In the mean time I'm glad that some state school pupils are given lower offers.

wobblyweebles Wed 11-Jun-14 15:51:02

Yabu. The focus should be on making state schools better, not handicapping private school pupils to compensate for state education for being inferior

It's now 25 years since I left state school and apparently they still haven't managed to improve them. So, 25 years of bright state-school-educated kids not getting into uni because they don't have the advantages that privately educated kids have.

Apart from anything, what a complete waste of intelligence.

writtenguarantee Wed 11-Jun-14 16:03:59

I'm also sceptical about this as I would I imagine this greater 'ability' shown by state pupils once at uni is in some cases down to a greater drive to prove themselves, in contrast to some private pupils who will have been so hot houses they'll slack off once they escape parental supervision.

the claim is almost the opposite of this. Take a group of B students from private and state education. The point is that those privately educated B students got that grade from natural ability + a lot of resources + a lot of prodding, whereas the state educated ones got it mainly from natural ability. Now you throw all those people into the same setting, where they have the same resources. The ones who mainly made it through natural ability will go farther.

Virgolia Wed 11-Jun-14 16:10:31

YABU

You're basically saying that we shouldn;t have to work as hard, and that we aren't as capable so it's patronising. I went to a real shitty school but got the grades

smokepole Wed 11-Jun-14 16:31:36

I don't know how it stands up that if DD1 comes out with BBB ( hopefully A in Chemistry if everything goes right) that because she went to a Secondary Modern, that her grades will better than DD2 and DS should they achieve the same. This will be unfair on DD2 and DS, to be 'marked down' just because they went to a grammar. The amount of effort required is just the same, whether the pupil attends a Private, Grammar or Modern school. The real difference is the quality of teaching the pupil gets.
My DD has almost had one to one teaching in chemistry for two years due to there only being 5 students taking it at A level ( one of the reasons she refused my pushing of DD2s grammar to her). This shows that with the right teaching, the type of school does not matter, I do not believe DD would have achieved more at the grammar ( 1A* 4A 4Bs) Gcse . DD has also benefited from being praised at regular times by the head, form teachers and subject teachers. The head even rung her last week to wish her good luck for her exams.

The elitism of one university (Cambridge) raised its head a couple of years ago when possibly the brightest pupil the school has had, went for an interview , she came back so demoralised that she 'jacked' in going to any university . A very bright girl working in a shoe shop, 'what a waste'.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 16:36:09

YABU

"You're basically saying that we shouldn;t have to work as hard, and that we aren't as capable so it's patronising. I went to a real shitty school but got the grades"

Oh, ffs- nobody is saying anything of the sort. Can't you be bothered to read the thread?

Virgolia Wed 11-Jun-14 16:38:02

I read the OP's comments as I'm replying to the OP.

Hakluyt Wed 11-Jun-14 16:39:42

Smokepole- I hv one in grammar and one not too. This isn't about your children or mine- who I presume are generally well supported, privileged children with space to work, enough to eat yadda yadda yadda.

This is about the children in your non grammar school child's school who don't have the advantages yours and mine have. It's about redressing the balance a bit.

parentalunit Wed 11-Jun-14 17:18:10

Shouldn't the focus be on making sure that state school pupils get a decent education, so that they don't have to be at a disadvantage?

Igggi Wed 11-Jun-14 18:24:39

Parentalunit - how much would you pay to educate your dcs privately if it did not confer an educational advantage?

parentalunit Wed 11-Jun-14 20:37:53

Ig you remind me of an Oscan Wilde quote... "education is what is left after everything you learned has been forgotten."

You're not just paying for the grades.

TrueGent Wed 11-Jun-14 21:01:16

In my day job I get people to discuss recent events and try to identify lessons for the future - what worked well...let's repeat it; what can we improve...let's do things differently etc.

I've become familiar with spotting suggestions that seek to address symptoms and those that address root causes.

Let me tell you - the root cause of this whole discussion is not the "unfairness" of private education (after all, it shows what is possible) but the inadequacy of state provision.

We should not be seeking to make up for the relatively poor teaching and support for our children by asking for lower entry grades - more we should be insisting that the quality of both improves.

Making allowances for mediocrity is what you do when you have given up the fight; c'mon, we can do this - let's not give up!

creamteas Wed 11-Jun-14 21:07:34

Shouldn't the focus be on making sure that state school pupils get a decent education, so that they don't have to be at a disadvantage?

I'm all for improving state education, but this isn't enough. We live in a society with massive inequalities and even bloody fantastic schools cannot make up all the difference.

A school cannot get a child a bedroom of their own to study in, pay for internet access at home or to provide educational trips every other weekends.

Clearly this isn't every child, but significant proportion of children live in poverty, and it isn't getting any better (see here). Schools alone can't fix this, but access to a good degree could secure their future.

Bodicea Wed 11-Jun-14 21:13:44

I used to be against this idea but not sure now. My parents had a working class background but were easonable well off.
However I was never really pushed academically. My mum thought I was very clever and left me to it. They rarely sat down to do homework with me that I can remember much. When I started struggling in my A-levels she had no idea. I passed but I can't help thinking that if I had come from pushier parents, the type that get you extra tuition etc I might have done a lot better.

Bodicea Wed 11-Jun-14 21:14:17

*reasonably!!!

wobblyweebles Wed 11-Jun-14 21:18:07

Oh yes - my (privately educated) husband was struggling with one of his A levels and the teacher was crap. His mum sent him to a summer school to up his grades.

I'm not sure my parents even know WHICH A levels I was doing...

Igggi Wed 11-Jun-14 21:35:07

I wasn't just talking about grades either.. confused

Truegent, what makes you think state sector teaching is poorer than private sector?

parentalunit Wed 11-Jun-14 22:53:25

*I'm all for improving state education, but this isn't enough. We live in a society with massive inequalities and even bloody fantastic schools cannot make up all the difference.

A school cannot get a child a bedroom of their own to study in, pay for internet access at home or to provide educational trips every other weekends.

Clearly this isn't every child, but significant proportion of children live in poverty, and it isn't getting any better (see here). Schools alone can't fix this, but access to a good degree could secure their future.*

Presumable you are not suggesting that poor people stop having children, or that the rest of the nation subsidize people who have children but can't afford lots of bedrooms or internet access.

Ig the subject here is about lowering grades for state school pupils. Not sure why you are confused. I never considered not sending my children to private school.

TrueGent well put.

parentalunit Wed 11-Jun-14 22:53:38

*presumably

Igggi Wed 11-Jun-14 23:01:36

Yep, I think we should subsidise those children. Not by buying them bigger houses! But by ensuring there are homework clubs, safe places to study after school (and away from siblings), breakfast clubs and well-resourced libraries and computer labs.
And let's spare a thought too for the 57 million children who don't get an education at all while we're at it.

parentalunit Wed 11-Jun-14 23:30:05

That'll be where we differ, then.

Takver Thu 12-Jun-14 08:47:07

"Truegent, what makes you think state sector teaching is poorer than private sector?"

If private sector teaching wasn't better, I struggle to see why people would pay so much for it! Not to say that the teachers are better per se, but I would assume that there will be smaller classes, less likely to be significant numbers of lessons covered by non-subject teachers, classes where a significant number of pupils are disengaged & potentially disruptive, et al.

Obviously lots of state sector teaching is excellent, but people choosing to pay for private school must feel that their dc will get a better education than they would in the state system . . .

Takver Thu 12-Jun-14 08:48:16

"Making allowances for mediocrity is what you do when you have given up the fight"

Yes, that's why universities have so many cases of "Tim nice but dim" who have been coached to a level well above their ability grin

Takver Thu 12-Jun-14 08:49:35

Actually, to be fair, my university experience is many years behind me. Maybe all those Tim nice-and-not-quite-dim-but-certainly-not-the-brightest-and-best no longer get the places they used to get.

TrueGent Thu 12-Jun-14 08:57:44

Igggi, state employees' salaries are controlled centrally, with very little scope for variation according to performance. Private employers can pay as much or as little as they like, thereby incentivising better performance. Clearly, some state providers will be excellent and some private ones rubbish (I exaggerate to make the point) but, generally speaking, private education is of a higher standard than its state equivalent - for all sorts of reasons, one of which is quality of teaching.

irregularegular Thu 12-Jun-14 09:02:21

Universities have known this for a long time, both based on formal quantitative research and our own experience of teaching. The same set of exam results can indicate a quite different level of ability and motivation depending on the school and social background, though it certainly isn't as simple as private versus state. An applicant with less than perfect grades from Eton is unlikely to get a second look unless there were exceptional personal circumstances. An applicant from a state school in special measures will almost perfect grades certainly would as that is still an outstanding achievement. For the most part there is no official, formal formula for this as it would need to be very subtle and complex.

What I don't think most top universities are doing is 'social engineering' in the sense of admitting less able candidates from poorer backgrounds. What we are more likely to be doing is aiming to admit those candidates who we expect to be the highest performing by the end of the degree, based on all the information we have available. We don't necessarily always get it right, but that's what we are aiming for.

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 09:20:28

Takver like all schools I think private schools vary.

It's interesting as my dp was one from a poor family at a crap sink state secondary modern school(parents never entered him for the 11+) who got into two red brick unis for his degrees.He ended up doing his Alevels at night school in a year whilst working!

His dc are now doing the 11+.They're at the end of a previously Satisfactory state primary and competing against kids at private schools and those who have been heavily coached from year 3!They've been doing mocks with some of their privately educated friends who are struggling to get a pass mark and they are by contrast rocking them.

I think private schools vary hugely and there are crap and good(1 prep school near us allegedly has a highly successful pass rate at 11+,it's why people send their dc there) others are pretty awful and I wouldn't send my kids there if you paid me.

The 11+ rollercoaster has been an eye opener and I am beginning to change my mind re this coached in myth.Many A levels are hard and I'm not sure any Tim's who get As can be dim.Also I'm not so sure you can get good results out of average kids however much cash you throw at them.That said children having parents who have literally 100s of thousands of £s to spend on their dc's education is something to think about even if some are foolish enough to waste it on mediocre or worse private schools.

I don't know what the answer is tbf.

larrygrylls Thu 12-Jun-14 09:30:24

I think universities, especially academic ones, should select by potential. This involves complex thinking, not merely churning out formulaic answers in what are still fairly dumbed down A levels (although starting to get harder again). I think you need to be reasonably bright now to get AAA at A levels, but far from brilliant. The corollary is that the top universities somehow need to sift through a lot of candidates with the same grades and choose between them.

I guess it is up to universities to decide how to select this potential. I think an interview will often tell more than grades alone. It does strike me that someone who gets AAB from a school whose average grades are CCD is statistically likely to be brighter than someone with AAA from a school whose average is AAB. Surely, it is reasonable for a university to select this candidate on the basis of higher potential?

What is clearly not right is taking lower potential candidates deliberately to make up numbers for social engineering purposes.

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 09:30:52

Because there are all sorts of advantages some have and others don't you just can't compensate for.

I wonder what other countries with better social mobility do.

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 09:31:42

X posted.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 09:33:21

"private education is of a higher standard than its state equivalent - for all sorts of reasons, one of which is quality of teaching."

I'm not agreeing or disagreeing- but can you support that statement? Or those statements.

TheWordFactory Thu 12-Jun-14 09:43:20

Well if we didnt accept that private education was advantageous, we wouldn't be having this discussion grin...

That said, I think we need to be careful of generalisations.

97% of DC attend state schools and the vast majoirty are not living without a clean quiet space to revise or without access to internet or without parents who can read and write.

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 09:44:39

We're all trained in the same colleges.

I have to say seeing some of the work from friends with kids in private schools the work and standards from my dc's satisfactory state was streaks ahead.

I also think state educated teachers are often kept more up to date,kept on their toes more and have more spent on their professional development.

A teacher capable of keeping 30 challenging 15 year kids interested will surely be more creative and used to working out of a comfort zone more than say a teacher with 15 kids in a classroom their parents are paying thousands for.

Petrasmumma Thu 12-Jun-14 09:46:07

There's much to be said for improving state provision in terms of teaching and general management but it goes further. A significant issue is a lack of information given or even available to parents and children to enable them to make informed choices about the level of commitment needed by the whole family to school work.

For example, I was surprised to learn that a local superselective tells parents nothing about the UCAS process.

Igggi Thu 12-Jun-14 09:47:39

Truegent is that your only reason for thinking teachers are better in private schools, that the salaries can be altered?

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 09:48:33

Were

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 10:05:13

"97% of DC attend state schools and the vast majoirty are not living without a clean quiet space to revise or without access to internet or without parents who can read and write."

Which is why targeting pupil premium kids has to be the way forward.

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 10:24:40

As a forces child I would have been a pp kid,I had a sah former primary teacher mother.

As has been pointed out several times focusing on pp kids just penalises those just above and in the middle.There are only so many places,where do you think the places allocated to pp will come from?I'm pretty sure it won't be from the Eton educated kids at the top but those just on the threshold at the bottom of the list which going by your logic would be the poorer state educated kids.

A policy like this lets the gov off the hook,does little to help,perhaps also drives down standards.Unis have to compete in a global market now.

AgaPanthers Thu 12-Jun-14 10:33:11

"97% of DC attend state schools"

This is NOT true. In fact it is only 82% when considering the 16+ age group, and it's not 97% for any age (although it is in certain areas of the country).

www.independent.co.uk/voices/commentators/philip-hensher/philip-hensher-rejecting-oxbridge-isnt-clever--its-a-mistake-6292041.html

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 10:39:46

I just assumed it was a typo for the usually accepted 93% and didn't think it was worth making an issue of.

AgaPanthers Thu 12-Jun-14 10:43:08

93% is true across age 5-18 (16?) but the are more at private school at senior level than junior, and more at A Level than junior. Also there will be more in England than Britain as a whole.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 10:46:08

So 93% is the correct figure for children state educated in the UK. Glad we agree.

nicename Thu 12-Jun-14 10:50:27

Would these students also need support during their course?

I think saying 'state schools' does cover a wide variation in quality of schools/teaching/schievements. A 'failing' school one year could well be 'good' or 'outstanding' a few years down the line.

Relatives in teaching have told me that they feel that the better teachers are actually in the state sector. Now, the facilies and behaviour/class sizes are genetally better in private (although the state school my godson attends is fantastic - science labs, swimming pool, gym, library...).

AgaPanthers Thu 12-Jun-14 10:52:47

"So 93% is the correct figure for children state educated in the UK. Glad we agree."

No don't agree at all, because a significantly higher proportion that that are in fact educated private school. If you go to state primary school than off to £20k/year private school before moving on to Oxbridge, you are fundamentally a private school pupil.

93% of all children being educated at any school at any single point in time, but it's irrelevant to this discussion.

Xenadog Thu 12-Jun-14 11:01:18

Having taught in both state (quite rough ones at that) and indie schools I can see why kids from tough backgrounds who do well at their state school will prosper more at uni where learning has to be more independent and the playing round is levelled a tad.

Having been one of those students from a really deprived background I fought hard to be able to stay to 6th form and complete my a levels. My father wanted me to bring board into the home so I was working part time throughout my studies. Studying wasn't made easy for me due to some honestly terrible teachers, poor facilities including no library and an anti education ethos at home.

I would say regardless of what changes are made to schools to help pupils from deprived backgrounds nothing will level things for students. The government can throw thousands at schools to help poorer kids but the real changes have to be in the home. I don't know what the answer is but to go back to the original question about lowering entry requirements for poorer students going into the top unis I can see why this might be fairer but it's incredibly patronising.

TrueGent Thu 12-Jun-14 11:07:14

The answers are:

Allow all schools to set their own entrance criteria (including selection by ability if they wish);
Give all parents a 'voucher' to the value of £XXXX (whatever the average spend per pupil is) and allow them to 'top up' with their own money to buy a place;
Revert to normal distribution marking - top 10% of a cohort get an A, next 10% a B and so on.

Sit back and watch the market drive up standards.

grin

TheWordFactory Thu 12-Jun-14 11:10:02

Aga you're right.

It's about 80% state educated post 16.

However, does that figure include all those students taking vocational courses which probably won't lead on to tertiary education?

AgaPanthers Thu 12-Jun-14 11:14:15

I don't know. It says here 14% of A Level students are at private school. www.independentschoolparent.com/choosing-a-school/why-choose-an-independent-school No source though.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 11:31:54

"The answers are:

Allow all schools to set their own entrance criteria (including selection by ability if they wish);
Give all parents a 'voucher' to the value of £XXXX (whatever the average spend per pupil is) and allow them to 'top up' with their own money to buy a place;
Revert to normal distribution marking - top 10% of a cohort get an A, next 10% a B and so on.

Sit back and watch the market drive up standards."

And the kids whose parents don't care and who nobody wants? What are they, collateral damage?

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 11:33:51

Because I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in a country with an increasingly disaffected underclass. Pure unenlightened self interest should make us do everything we can to help underprivileged kids achieve.

Igggi Thu 12-Jun-14 13:05:30

If all schools set their own education criteria, wouldn't that leave about a third of the population of children wandering the streets? Who is going to choose to be the school which takes children with difficulties?

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 13:07:56

But kids with parents that don't care are in all classes.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 13:13:25

"But kids with parents that don't care are in all classes."

Absolutely. Did I say otherwise? But half my sentence was missing.

"The kids whose parents don't care, and those whose parents don't understand the system and don't know how to engage with it and the kids that nobody wants."

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 13:30:24

Again across all classes including those just over pp who miss out on the benefits pp can give.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 13:33:59

Maybe- but disproportionately among those who attract pupil premium. However hard the "I'm all right Jack" brigade would try to convince us otherwise.

Ehhn Thu 12-Jun-14 13:53:06

What about odd situations like mine? Single parent family, no help from father; neither parents went to university; grandfather on one sides coal miner and on the other a farm labourer. I got a scholarship to a private school and my mum worked her butt off to keep me there.

I had no choice in going to the school (I begged and cried not to go) but my mum insisted it would give me the best start in life. It did give me a great start, with excellent grades, but I wouldn't have chosen it for myself. Should I be punished for the determined efforts of my mother, who meant well but was poorly educated and had a horrible experience of the state system herself - and so fervently believed she was doing the right thing?

Igggi Thu 12-Jun-14 14:46:40

It's not about punishing you, it's about accepting that you had more help to get those grades than some other students who are also applying

TrueGent Thu 12-Jun-14 14:49:24

Hakluyt - I admire your honest reference to self-interest there.

What about those children whose parents don't care? What about them indeed?

Why should a system be designed for the benefit of those at the bottom (of interest levels, income, intelligence, ambition - take your pick) from themselves? Why can't it be designed in the interests of those in the middle? (Because those at the top will always be okay).

Igggi - if money follows the pupil, some will have to take pupils to remain viable. If they don't, they go to the wall and their pupils would be taken by nearby schools keen to gain the extra funding.

larrygrylls Thu 12-Jun-14 15:09:07

The whole point if tertiary education is that it is (was?) for those at the top. This is the top of ability, though. It does not necessarily correspond to best results to date. Of course the process does have to be transparent and fair but universities have every right to select someone they believe to have true ability in a subject over someone who has had an amazing education and has managed good grades but with little demonstration of genuine intuition or interest. How they do that is up to them. I think interviews can work well, personally.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 15:25:49

Is it? I thought that used to be the point of further education in particular, not tertiary education in general......

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 15:27:30

"Why should a system be designed for the benefit of those at the bottom (of interest levels, income, intelligence, ambition - take your pick) from themselves? Why can't it be designed in the interests of those in the middle? (Because those at the top will always be okay). "

It is at the moment. I am just advocating evening things up a bit.

Timetoask Thu 12-Jun-14 15:30:40

I think it's a great idea to help children from less advantaged schools access university. The problem I see with the proposal of accepting lower grades from a particular group of students is that at university you will have two types of students: those who are really struggling because they were accepted with gaps in their knowledge, those who are able to keep up because they schooling was good.

Shouldn't the emphasis be on helping those children who show potential, get those top marks needed?

The end result will be graduates with a low standard of education, UK university being dumbed down, degrees being devalued.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 15:56:27

I don't think that anyone is suggesting letting people into university with Es- just Bs instead of As.

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 15:57:18

Or something like that.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 12-Jun-14 16:45:29

The problem I see with the proposal of accepting lower grades from a particular group of students is that at university you will have two types of students: those who are really struggling because they were accepted with gaps in their knowledge, those who are able to keep up because they schooling was good

Then again, the whole impetus behind this proposal is that state school candidates seem to be better at working and not dropping out etc than those with equally good grades whose schooling was 'good' (ie private).

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 17:20:55

No it wasn't just private,they were talking about the best state schools too and seemed to infer they included any kids from shite state schools.

TrueGent Thu 12-Jun-14 17:28:47

Imply - they implied, you inferred. Apologies blush

Hakluyt Thu 12-Jun-14 17:36:56

If you felt the need to apologise, best not say it in the first place, no?

Retropear Thu 12-Jun-14 17:54:23

Sorry,should be concentrating on making tea.From the research said article inferred(concluded) it was any kids from shite state schools.

Do let me know if that too is wrong and post a correction.My brain is now jelly,this is what 10 years out of education does to you.

Thanks Hak.smile

Takver Thu 12-Jun-14 21:15:55

I think when people suggest dropping grade requirements, they're talking 3 x A, instead of 3 x A*, or BBB instead of AAB - not massive drops that mean the universities take students with big gaps in knowledge.

creamteas Fri 13-Jun-14 18:38:02

Aston has just said they are building a new Med School

And it looks like the students who pay full fees will be paying for scholarships for local applicants from deprived backgrounds. smile

No mention of lower entry grades, but I'm guessing that this will be part of the plan.

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