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Private school pupils penalised

(139 Posts)
Cortina Tue 27-Sep-11 08:52:03


Thoughts on this? Has this been happening anyway? Interesting.

Cortina Tue 27-Sep-11 08:57:36

I think this comment on the Independent site is correct about the amount of prep that goes on, I am not sure many are aware:

This is the correct course imo. As a pupil of the private sector everything was done to get you into the best possible uni. The prep on exam questions/answers was unbelievable compared to a state sector student. Every possible exam question was de-constructed, perfect answers learned verbatim (though not explicitly, just through repetition). Your average state school teacher wouldn't or couldn't do this even if they wanted to.

I wonder if other exam boards will follow? Will universities eventually all set their own entrance exams in the future?

gettingalifenow Tue 27-Sep-11 08:58:30

It has been happening anyway, in some places, in a slightly different way. Eg Durham until recently ranked applicants within their own schools - so if everyone in your school got at least 3 As at As level they gave higher points to those who got 4As - so putting a 3 As student below a 3Bs student from elsewhere. Incredibly complicated.

Cortina Tue 27-Sep-11 09:06:33

Interesting re: Durham. I wonder if this penalising will be more widespread in the future? I wonder how all those working so hard to pay school fees feel about it?

purits Tue 27-Sep-11 09:10:49

I don't understand why this is being portrayed as penalising private schools. The whole idea of this is to be fair and impartial so it would have to be designed to have the same impact on State Grammars and Leafy Suburbs.

happygardening Tue 27-Sep-11 09:21:34

There is a solution; university in the US I understand that this sort of rubbish does not happen there. More children at the top independent schools are going down this road.

horsemadmom Tue 27-Sep-11 09:30:22

Hmmm... actually, in the US you do get a bump if you are Afro-American, Native American or Hispanic. Also, if you come from a 'fly-over' state, go to an inner-city school with high poverty levels or a rural school.

purits Tue 27-Sep-11 09:38:57

The Durham example is understandable. If you are a top tier University wanting top notch students and you draw a long-list of "the top student in the year for this subject" from each school in Britain then you still have over 3,000 applicants to choose from.
It is easy to do this apparently fair selection if we are talking about the best choosing the best but it gets a bit muddier when you get to mid-ranking (University or student) and there are a lot more of them, by definition.

happygardening Tue 27-Sep-11 09:39:38

I am surprised I have a friend who has four children at uni in the US and this is not her experience. She found that the Ivy League universities want the brightest and the best and that when the push comes to the shove top exams results were what swung it for her children (who were privately educated).

wordfactory Tue 27-Sep-11 10:16:37

I think universities have to do something to encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds. And I say that as someone with DC in private school.

From what I gather, though, the first hurdle is that simply not enough of the right calibre grade equalising is nit going to solve that.

Oxbridge for example has an absurd proportion of independently educated students, and of those state educated the vast majority attended selective schools. Tutors say it is getting disadvantaged students to apply that is holding the numbers where they are.

goinggetstough Tue 27-Sep-11 10:23:08

Cortina I don't doubt that private school children get additional help due to the fact that the classes are generally smaller. However, I do query that it is wrong to teach children to pass the exam or to be a state school teacher that is not capable of doing that. I think that is insulting to the state school teacher. Plus I know when my DD did her A levels she constantly looked at mark guides and examiner's reports. All of which are available on the web and help you to pass the exam.
I do think that there are certain DC for what ever reason should be viewed as individuals and in certain cases be given a lower university offer. However, I think the system breaks down when there is a blanket formula. How do you take account of those who attend a state school but are tutored?

meditrina Tue 27-Sep-11 10:27:40

I think it is the right aim, but the wrong action.

Universities should (and already often do) give different offers depending on various criteria, including school background. I think this should be left in the hands of admissions tutors. Or perhaps there could be a separate exercise (perhaps part of the OFSTED process) which awards a contextual "score" to schools which could then be included in application. But I do not think it is right for individual exam boards to be making these ranking decisions - too much scope for inconsistency.

iggly2 Tue 27-Sep-11 10:28:00

Thought the US was very marks driven even at Uni they publish everyones rank and top employees go on that (to get into uni there they keep going on about SATS-watch Social Network!). But can easily believe that they factor in for ethnicity. I do think there will be a braindrain if Uni fees here keep increasing.

lovingthecoast Tue 27-Sep-11 10:40:57

It can't be a private Vs state debate though, because that would be madness. It is surely obvious that the child educated at the high performing state school in the affluent area with two professional, interested parents is going to do pretty much as well as those from most independent day schools in the country. I say that as a parent who pays but feels that I pay for all the other 'stuff' that goes with academic education. It has never crossed my mind to assume that my kids will do better academically than those as the local glossy, affluent state school.

So I can see the merits in addressing disadvantage and its affects but lets not assume its as simple as all state educated kids need or deserve a leg up.

iggly2 Tue 27-Sep-11 10:47:54

DS is private. He is there due to bursary/scholarship . I think he would get great grades anywhere....should I pull him, out so he does not get penalised?

OddBoots Tue 27-Sep-11 10:48:08

I do feel sorry for university admissions staff who now have to face an increasing number of potential students with top grades, how are they meant to select between them?

Given that children who have studied through the comprehensive system appear to do better at university (link) then I don't blame them for wanting to try to find those with more hidden potential.

iggly2 Tue 27-Sep-11 10:49:06

Can see your point Oddball grade inflation helps no one.

Cortina Tue 27-Sep-11 10:53:31

Odd Boots someone made that point in the comments section following the Independent article:

Pupils from comprehensive schools are likely to do better at university than children educated at private or grammar schools with similar A-level results, according to research carried out for the government and published Friday 3rd Dec 2009:

A five-year study tracking 8,000 A-level candidates found that a comprehensive pupil with the grades BBB is likely to perform as well in their university degree as an independent or grammar school pupil with 2 As and a B.

The findings will strengthen demands for university admissions tutors to give more favourable offers to candidates from comprehensives, as they indicate that private or grammar schooling boosts a pupil's A-level results by at least half a grade.

Cortina Tue 27-Sep-11 10:55:47

Other Independent comments that caught my eye:

What an absurd idea - outside of the discrimination inherent in this idea, they aren't giving out prizes and rewarding (patronising), oh let's say scruffy, people, rather people earning their grade objectively - This is such a perfect example of the mindset of the modern left's weird combination of self-loathing and arrogance. The use of Scruffy is intended to draw on the absurdity of this discrimination, by the way; in as much as someone would need to determine arbitrary rules upon which to treat people differently - probably most akin to ascribing a 'handicap' like in golf or horse racing on an establishment by establishment basis......... the idea is so far beyond wrong.


What next? Are we going to discriminate against people from middle-class backgrounds when it comes to using the NHS? "Oh sorry, you own your own home, you can't have brain surgery. No, pay that £3.5million to the private clinic or get poor quick." Great.

lovingthecoast Tue 27-Sep-11 11:04:12

But there is no such thing as a generic 'comprehensive'. Unless they are going to grade every school and adject accordingly as years go one then how is this workable?

The affluent child at the local state comprehensive is no more disadvantaged that the one next door whose parents pay fees. In many areas of the home counties where we are and Cheshire where we used to live, the catchments simply don't include a truly comprehensive mixture of bright affluent kids and bright disadvantaged kids. They are simply a mixture of bright affluent kids and not so bright affluent kids.

There needs to be more clarification on which pupils need a helping hand rather than just saying 'state' school pupils are disadvantaged.

DamselInDisarray Tue 27-Sep-11 11:07:26

The title of this thread is very misleading.

It's not at all about 'penalising' kids whose parents could afford to pay for their education (even with scholarships, private school is still not cheap); it's about universities offering places to the best candidates. Part of that is recognising that raw exams results do not provide the whole picture of an applicant's potential to succeed at university.

As for the notion that it must be bad because it will upset people who 'work hard' to buy their children an advantage over those with less affluent parents pay school fees... The answer has to be: tough.

goinggetstough Tue 27-Sep-11 11:14:35

Damsel please explain how you can tell whether a DC at a private school works hard or not or whether a child at a state school is lazy and hence the low grades or vice versa. Neither is black and white and this is why a policy like this is discriminatory.

Pootles2010 Tue 27-Sep-11 11:14:44

Because they're grading the comp's loving, according to things like how many kids get free meals, etc.

I think it's a great idea, but not sure whether they'll make it work. A child doing well at a crappy school is much more impressive than a child doing excellently at an excellent school, and this should be reflected.

I'm sure poor little Tristan from Eton will find a way to the top anyway.

goinggetstough Tue 27-Sep-11 11:20:18

How naive to think all private schools are like Eton....
Following a policy like this will not encourage the Government to improve state schools as it gives them an opt out and puts the onus on university admission departments to sort out the low academic standards in some areas.

DamselInDisarray Tue 27-Sep-11 11:20:39

Because universities use far more than just exam results to decide on who to offer places to. They get a personal statement, references and they can interview. They can take a large number of things into consideration (including the characteristics of their school) and offer a place on that basis.

Similarly, starting your personal statement with 'it was when I was trekking in the Amazon basin that I realised that...' only really proves that you /your parents could afford for you to do this. The kid who worked 28 hour a week in mcdonalds throughout their a-levels and gave the money to their parents/used the rest for living expenses should have that recognised as an achievement.

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