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Oxbridge Bias?

(45 Posts)
Amber2 Sat 26-Jan-13 20:33:52

I see Dr. Seldon is in the news again....A levels are yet a few years off for my DS but wondered if anyone is actually seriously considering switching DCs to state at sixth form for reason of said perceived Oxbridge bias against private candidates vs state (all things being equal in terms of grades) ..and whether anyone really thinks there is truly (positive) discrimination

happygardening Sun 27-Jan-13 08:59:00

I've been hearing this for quite a number of years now. I personally am not overly worried. The interesting thing is that the top handful getting 30+% into Oxbridge seem to be increasing their number slightly year on year. Secondly if this is true ( I take everything Seldon say with a generous pinch of salt remember he has to justify the numbers from Wellington going to Oxbridge) the tragedy will be that very bright able children from independent school are and will more so look abroad I am unconvinced that UK PLC can afford this brain drain.

LaVolcan Sun 27-Jan-13 09:14:10

I'm out of date now - but don't the forms ask where you took your exams/where you were at school?

Presumably admissions officers haven't lost the ability to read that this applicant was educated privately to age 16.

meditrina Sun 27-Jan-13 09:17:59

Oxbridge is always a bit of a toss up, and every year excellently qualified pupils, from both state and independent sector, are turned down.

I'd leave DCs in a school where they are flourishing. Then again, I see education as a journey, not a set of transactions in pursuit of any particular outcome.

Charmingbaker Sun 27-Jan-13 09:28:43

All this thread proves is that the elite will find a way to manipulate the system in their favour against the genuinely disadvantaged.

happygardening Sun 27-Jan-13 09:28:54

A very valid point meditrina we have an "outstanding" state school on our doorstep who identify potential Oxbridge candidates in yr11 and give them loads of help and have an above national average success rate. If this was my sole interest I wouldn't be crippling myself with school fees. AS you said education is a journey and IMO top independent schools are offering so much more than results.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sun 27-Jan-13 09:30:54

I don't imagine many would leave the private sector based on this: it's just the Torygraph trying to whip up a bit of resentment in middle England by suggesting that the hardest thing to be these days is middle class and wealthy...

happygardening Sun 27-Jan-13 09:39:44

I've just grappled with the Wellington website as irritating as the the head himself! They seem slightly cagey about how many they actually send to Oxbridge in fact no actual %'s are mentioned at all. As I said earlier he has to justify to parents and governors his numbers.

happygardening Sun 27-Jan-13 09:49:44

Accoding to the Tatler good schools guide 2013 (again should be taken with a pinch of salt) Wellington only sent 8% to Oxbridge last year but it has a CE pass rate requirement of 65% same as Etons (30% into Oxbridge) and I believe slightly higher than Tonbridges (25% into Oxbridge) no wonder he feels a need to make excuses for justify his figures in the Telegraph.

goinggetstough Sun 27-Jan-13 10:53:22

HG it does seem strange that they only sent 8%.I am not pro AS either. However, it is important to remember with regard to the CE pass mark, that is usually regarded as a minimum pass mark. Eton expects all the higher CE papers to be taken, does Wellington? Plus W says an average of 65% and that you can apply if you have a special skills even if you don't make the 65% pass mark. So that might account for the difference between CE marks and Oxbridge acceptance rates.

loveyouradvice Sun 27-Jan-13 10:57:30

Two thoughts to throw in....

1. The fact that state school educated kids stlil outperform private school kids by the time they take their Oxbridge degree suggests that they havent yet gone far enough in selecting more from state sector - after all, they aim to spot potential not achievement to date....

2. My understanding is that you have to have been state educated for the last 5 years for it to count and that this is declared on the form, etc... so switching for A levels seems rather foolish....

Interesting debate that will run and run.....

goinggetstough Sun 27-Jan-13 12:04:54

loveyouradvice your first point is not true, at least not at Cambridge as the link shows:
Nor is an argument for lower offers for certain categories of schools supported by the performance of students once here. It is also crucial to stress that at Cambridge students from the maintained sector do not out-perform equally qualified students from independent schools. Both our own research3, and the research most frequently cited by the advocates of lower offers4, confirms this: “differences in achievement by school type largely disappear for students with 30 A level points.” 30 points was the UCAS tariff for AAA at that time (it is now 360 points). This is vitally important, as successful Cambridge applicants typically achieve over 400 points from three A-levels and other qualifications.

I believe that all applicants should be looked at as individuals and that no blanket method of admissions should be used regardless of the type of school.

Copthallresident Sun 27-Jan-13 12:34:05 Some actual coverage of the admissions process as opposed to subjective speculation.

JoanByers Sun 27-Jan-13 12:37:20

Wellington/Seldon are champion bullshitters. As I pointed out on another thread recently, they have a lot of waffle about Ivy League and Oxbridge, but conveniently fail to back this up with any data.

This is the key quote

"Wellington’s Oxbridge entrance performance is rising along with the College’s wider academic improvement – there has never been a better time to aim for Oxbridge from Wellington College."


* Wellington is a very expensive school in an area with a lot of competition, and historically has not attracted the brightest.
* The result is that compared to other schools their Oxbridge stats are very mediocre - because, frankly, they don't attract many Oxbridge-calibre students.

Obviously they are trying to change this, as witnessed by all the bullshit, 65% CE pass marks, and so on, but certainly when the current upper sixth were entering the school, the school wasn't that selective at school.

Other local schools get far more Oxbridge - RGS, Guildford - 25%, Eton College, 30%.

Wellington would have you believe that many of his students are going off to Harvard and Yale, but again doesn't publish any data to support this, instead noting 7% going to US & Canadian universities, which doesn't tell you anything....

As HG says, the very best private schools are maintaining and increasing their Oxbridge stats. Seldon may be frustrated that his well-polished nice-but-dims don't cut the mustard at Oxbridge, but that seems fair enough to me - if the Oxbridge tutors are increasingly seeing through the well-prepped second-rate private school students from schools like Wellington, while continuing to admit the brightest and best from schools like Westminster, then that's as it should be.

Personally speaking I have no doubt that a good private school is the best preparation for a bright child to get into Oxbridge, and again the best private schools do show this, with Oxbridge numbers far, far higher than any state school.

Everything else is bluster and bullshit.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sun 27-Jan-13 12:50:28

Personally speaking I have no doubt that a good private school is the best preparation for a bright child to get into Oxbridge, and again the best private schools do show this, with Oxbridge numbers far, far higher than any state school.

Those would be the best private schools which don't select academically, right? Because otherwise your point is.... well... bluster and bullshit.

JoanByers Sun 27-Jan-13 12:56:14

The most selective state schools get ~15% into Oxbridge. That's king of the hill, top of the heap.

The most selective private schools get ~50% into Oxbridge.

The most selective state schools are hugely oversubscribed, and can adjust their admissions test to select the best and brightest. They are also, obviously, free of charge.

The most selective private schools cost £15k/year and more, and are not as oversubscribed as the most selective state schools, yet, get 3x more into Oxbridge than super-selective state schools.

newgirl Sun 27-Jan-13 13:05:21

Joan that's a pause for thought

My dd yr 6 will prob get a place at a good local state school. We like it, some lovely kids go there. 1-2 get Oxbridge each year. As a back up applied to local academic private school. With no tutoring or practice she's been shortlisted for a scholarship. We can't afford it really my work is sporadic but all this talk and news has freaked me out and now I'm thinking should we do all we can to send her. Sorry for hijack - any advice v welcome.

boomting Sun 27-Jan-13 13:14:33

Absolute bollocks from Seldon, yet again.

Even if Cambridge is still taking more students from the state sector, it's still taking disproportionate numbers of students from the independent sector. At A Level 18% of students are educated privately, and Cambridge is taking 37% of its students from the private sector.

UCAS forms ask for all schools where you studied from age 11.

Next we'll be hearing complaints that universities are offering outreach schemes to kids who live on council estates and go to schools in special measures rather than the nice middle class kids that Anthony Seldon teaches.

And entirely anecdotally - I went to a private school from 11-18. A lot of pupils were withdrawn and sent to state schools at 16. Those who remained have, on average, gone to better universities than those who moved to the state sector.

happygardening Sun 27-Jan-13 13:30:48

going using Tatler 2013 again Bryanston CE minimum 50% only in core subjects and no pre testing at 11 unlike Wellington apparrently sends 10%!

JoanByers Sun 27-Jan-13 15:07:38

Bryanston is in darkest Dorset, I expect it has a different catchment/less competition than Wellington. Some private schools are 'comprehensive', and some seem to only take a certain segment of the market.

Copthallresident Sun 27-Jan-13 15:14:19

Bryanston may be in deepest darkest Dorset but it sends a bus up stopping in Richmond and Central London at term end and at exeat weekends, fares quite well in competition with London day schools for those parents who don't want the London day school culture.

timidviper Sun 27-Jan-13 15:19:35

There is also the point that Oxbridge is not the be all and end all.

In my DCs years the selection process was not predictable, some candidates who you would think were the obvious choices were not made offers where some less obvious, though still extremely capable, candidates were (e.g. head boy who got 6As at A level in the days before A*, DofE Gold, 1st team rugby and cricket so genuine all-rounder was turned down while another friend, still a lovely boy, 4As, debating team and generally quieter, possibly less rounded got in).
The pupils who were not accepted at Oxbridge all went on to good unis and are doing very well, going to Oxbridge is not a guarantee that your child will outperform others in the long run.

happygardening Sun 27-Jan-13 15:19:56

Not saying Bryanston is a better school although I happen to know its catchment is very wide it is despite it location very popular with London parents. What I am just suggesting that Seldons article is all about him and Wellington rather than necessarily a reflection of every independent school in the UK. In fact as you pointed out Joan the current numbers rather contradict his article.

Copthallresident Sun 27-Jan-13 15:40:48

timidviper You have to unhook the parental perceptions of "Oxbridge" from the actual reality, that it isn't the best for all subjects, or even in terms of it's international academic reputation (UCL outperforms Oxford in terms of international academic peer reviews, albeit mainly a western peer group) and that it is easier to get in for some subjects, and colleges, even if the subjective nature of the interview process couldn't account for some of the best candidates failing to get in. However the brand remains strong and Seddon is undoubtedly under a great deal of pressure to have better Oxbridge success rates.

Mutteroo Sun 27-Jan-13 15:53:06

One reason why DS decided to swap back into the state system was because he had read about this. Fortunately we have an outstanding sixth form college on our doorstep with a long history of getting kids into good universities. DS may not be looking at Oxbridge but he felt he had a better chance of a university place by moving. I must add that there were other reasons why he moved, however had this been the only reason, he would have had our blessing.

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