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If you can afford private education but remain in the state sector cont.

(1000 Posts)
happygardening Sun 06-Jan-13 13:22:36

Thought I repost the OP although the debate has moved on a little smile .
It's going to be hard to avoid this becoming another state v private thread, but what I'm interested in is a slightly different take on that debate. It's not "which is better?" but "if you think state school is better even though you could afford private education, then why is that?"

The question is based on the assumptions that the DC in question is/are reasonably bright (so might benefit academically from academically selective education), that the state school is non-selective (as most people don't have access to grammar schools), and that you hope for your DC to go to a good university (to make the £££££ fees worthwhile!)

I've been mulling this over ever since I heard some maths professor from Cambridge talking on the radio about the age-old private v state inequality of Oxbridge admissions. He was all for improving access for state school applicants but said that the simple fact was that for maths, even the best state schools generally teach only to the A-level syllabus, whereas the best private schools take their maths/further maths A-level candidates well beyond the syllabus and so the state school applicants are at a huge disadvantage - they simply don't have the starting level of knowledge required for the course.

This made me wonder: with this sort of unequal playing field, if you have the choice of private education, what reasons might you have not to take it?

Would be interested to hear from those who've made this choice - how it's working out, or if your DC have finished school now, how did it work out? Did they go to good universities/get good jobs, etc? On the other side of things, if you paid for private schooling but now regret it, why?

My DC go to a state school by the way.

<Dons hard hat>.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Jan-13 17:58:13

Maybe Oxford's tutorial system is both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness? I can see, if you are committing yourself to seeing and debating with a student on a weekly basis for an hour with only one other student present to take part, you are going to want to interview them to decide in advance whether you could bear that... and I know from experience that personality clashes between students and their tutors were a very bad thing at Oxford precisely because of the intensity of the relationship.

grovel Sun 06-Jan-13 18:00:12

My understanding is that Durham, Bristol and some other universities have the same problems as Oxbridge in getting applications from kids from low-income families/comprehensive schools.

They don't interview.

They don't wear gowns to dine or to sit exams.

rabbitstew Sun 06-Jan-13 18:01:25

They do have a reputation for being "very public school," though. And "Oxford/Cambridge reject" destinations. It's sometimes hard to shake off a reputation.

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 18:01:52

Fivecandles, according to a quick literature search I found this:

"State school students do not outperform their peers from the independent sector once they get to university, new research has found. The report from Cambridge University appears to contradict previous studies, which found that, on average, students from the state sector achieve better degrees than those from similar backgrounds who were privately educated."

The research you are referring to is an older study which found that students were about 3% more likely to get a first or a 2:1. A whole whopping 3%.

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 18:05:23

Ugg, not very clear! State school graduates at Russell Group universities outperformed their private counterparts by 3%.

JoanByers Sun 06-Jan-13 18:08:25

> It would be good if Cambridge could try to ensure their staff were more representative of the ethnic and social diversity of the population at large for a start. It is shocking that there is not a single black member of staff.

But it's total bollocks. I found these two very easily:

There of course very large numbers of staff and students of Indian and Chinese backgrounds. Black children do not perform well at school, as a fact, so why is this Oxford's fault? Why are they expected to right all the world's wrongs?

grovel Sun 06-Jan-13 18:13:23

Out of 14,000 professors in UK universities only 50 are black. That's fewer than one per university. Not an exclusively Oxbridge issue.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:32:08

Joan, David Lammy's questions under the Freedom of Information Act revealed that white students were twice as likely to be successful as white students at Cambridge so this is not about numbers applying. It's what happens once they've applied.

Nobody has ever suggested that Cambridge could or should right the world's wrongs but just that they shouldn't be part of them.

The article was from 2011:

'of more than 1,500 academic and lab staff at Cambridge, none are black. Thirty-four are of British Asian origin'

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:33:33

grovel, I never said any of this was exclusively an Oxbridge issue.

But I think that, 'Everywhere else is just or nearly as bad' is a very poor defense.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:34:31


"The stats are available to see. Try as you might to find flaws in them, it is highly likely that the admissions data produced by Oxbridge universities themselves are likely to be accurate."

It's difficult to entirely trust the stats when oxford's findings sometimes contradict Cambridge's. And they both sometimes contradict findings of elsewhere.

For example: at Cambridge they have found here that "Given the same examination record at point of admission, students from the state and independent sectors have been equally likely to perform well in Cambridge".
However Oxford found "private school students with the same GCSE attainment record as their state school educated peers are less likely to achieve a First class degree. The inverse does not hold true for low attainment where there is no school difference in the propensity to attain lower than an Upper Second"

Also Oxford have found "We see no statistically significant
link between the educational level of an applicant’s parents and their
chances of gaining an offer for undergraduate study." which is contrary to received wisdom. (Note this is among applicants - it's not saying anything about the likelyhood of applying from different levels of parental background).

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:45:48

Gelo, when I made that point, it was specifically about the admission stats including the schools of succcessful applicants. Those are not under question.

I accept that it may not be clear whether or not state school kids outperform those from private schools with the same grades at A Level but even if they perform as well it suggests that the advantage that candidates from private schools have over state school candidates when it comes to their applications is not that of their academic superiority or potential.

Which strengthens the case for removing interviews which do not test academic ability in a way that is free from bias against social class and probably ethnic origin as well.

It is well understood that private school candidates are likely to have advantages over state school candidates in terms of the wealth of their extra curricular experience, preparation and so on (not to mention the old school tie network especially at Eton, Westminster et al). But this does not mean that they are necessarily more academically able.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:49:37

OK fivecandles. Did you know that at Oxford applicants from state schools are advantaged over private school applicants with the same prior qualifications? I merely mention it since you said private school candidates had an advantage - they do in that they are likely to be better qualified, but if you correct for that then the state applicants are more likely to get offers.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:52:17

These are really significant from the Sutton Trust:

'The proportion of university entrants going to Oxbridge from the top performing 30 independent schools was nearly twice that of the top performing 30 grammar schools – despite having very similar average A-level scores.

At the 30 top performing comprehensive schools, only half the expected number of pupils are admitted to the 13 Sutton Trust universities, given the overall relationship between schools’ average A-level results and university admissions.

At the 30 top performing independent schools, a third more pupils are admitted to the 13 Sutton Trust universities than would be expected given the schools’ average A-level results.'

rabbitstew Sun 06-Jan-13 18:53:23

gelo - that just sounds like more debatable statistics to me...

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 18:53:42

fivecandles, my interpretation of the data are the is that Oxford and Cambridge are choosing the correct candidates for their schools based on their applicant pool. If both privately educated students are state educated students are performing essentially equally as well, they ALL deserve to be there and there is no bias.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:54:58

Yes, that's why they do outreach to try and encourage more to apply. The problem is that they don't apply, not that they are discriminated against by some 'old school tie' network after they have applied.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:55:21

gelo, that's not always the case. Oxford MAY reduce the grade requirements where a student has come from a school which performs well below average but if you look above, you'll see that in practice, you are twice as likely to get in from a top perofmring independent school than if you are a state grammar (itself selective) despite very similar average A-Level scores.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:56:24

most stats are rabbit!

The source of the Oxford stuff is [ here]] but it is huge.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:57:01

'they ALL deserve to be there and there is no bias. '

Well, yes, but there is very clearly a bias. That bias surely comes into play at interview.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:57:17

five, that's before you have corrected for prior attainment. See the link in my last post for the source.

fivecandles Sun 06-Jan-13 18:58:38

'The problem is that they don't apply, not that they are discriminated against by some 'old school tie' network after they have applied. '

No it isn't. Of course, you're right that there are disproportionately more applicants from private schools than state schools but applicants with the same grades are less likely to get in if they've come from state schools (and if they're black).

Ronaldo Sun 06-Jan-13 18:59:36

Two threads and you are still not done on this? What exactly is it you all want?
Will none of you be satisfied until Oxford and Cambride are made to accept kids from Cherry Tree estate unconditionally and reject those from Eton? What do you think will happen then? Equality?

Get a life people . Think it through.

As someone who went to Cambridge without a thought I would not get in even though I didnt have the " background" I still believe that they take the best and the elite and thats that.

You know even Vague William isnt short in the grey cells (certainly out spins Cherry Tree Estates finest). You can take the kid out of Cherry Tree Estate but you are not going to take Cherry Tree Estate out of the boy - and that is the problem.

gelo Sun 06-Jan-13 19:03:32

Well five, that's not what this dataset showed.

"The issue of state and private schooling has dominated debate on Oxford
admissions, and it is often assumed that private school applicants are favoured. We
found that, taking prior academic attainment into account, private schooling was
actually negatively linked to the chances of gaining an offer. Qualitative research on
admission to Oxford has shown that this is due to the discounting of private school
performance by selectors"

I took that from another analysis of the data here

Mominatrix Sun 06-Jan-13 19:04:04

fivecandles, one factor which skews application from the top independent schools towards Oxford and Cambridge which simply does not exist at grammar or comprehensive schools is the ever increasing number of very bright overseas candidates attending them. The parents of these schools want their children to then attend a world recognized top university, so usually Oxbridge here or US top universities. I realize that this number of students is probably a small but significant number, but it is becoming more significant. For example, St. Paul's, which has been pretty much a day school for at least the past 20 years, is going to actively expand its boarding intake and facilities due to international demand.

Ronaldo Sun 06-Jan-13 19:12:04

I realize that this number of students is probably a small but significant number, but it is becoming more significant. For example, St. Paul's, which has been pretty much a day school for at least the past 20 years, is going to actively expand its boarding intake and facilities due to international demand

St Pauls is not the only one. It is true. My school sent 19 to Cambridge last year (and several more to Oxford) . That included a number of overseas pupils. Most were brilliant beyond your belief as well as hard working. They deserved the places they won.

As tuition fees are going to take out a large number of middle income families, the way forward is overseas. That said such candidates willget lower offers in most universities because they dont have quotas on them and fees can be higher.

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