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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.


What do you think?

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


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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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


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!

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