State v Independent - for degree classification

(29 Posts)
stubiff Tue 09-Jul-19 13:04:13

This came up as a side discussion in another thread.

The pic shows that State school pupils, on average (as always!), do better than Independent school pupils, with the same grades.

Do you feel your Independent DC were pushed to (possibly over) achieve at A-level.
Do you feel your State DC were not pushed hard enough, and possibly under achieved at A-level.

Probably excluding the high attainers as there is no/hardly any difference between that group.

OP’s posts: |
Ivegotthree Tue 09-Jul-19 13:08:26

I don't understand the slide!

TeenTimesTwo Tue 09-Jul-19 13:10:05

I'm interested you think this is due to 'pushing' rather than
- better access to resources
- smaller classes
- access to private tutors alongside
- better access to extra curricular add-ons

So I'm thinking about things like trips abroad for MFL, theatre trips for English Lit / Drama, geography field trips, class sizes of 10 instead of 20 etc.

Mine didn't do A levels / uni (but I did).

TeenTimesTwo Tue 09-Jul-19 13:12:58

Ive Put simply state school kids do better at uni than independent kids with the same A level results. Is the reason due to more pushing at school for indi kids, or something else?

stubiff Tue 09-Jul-19 13:16:48

If a State pupil gets BBB at A-level then they have a higher chance of getting a 2:2 or 1st, compared with an Independent pupil who also got BBB at A-level.

Pushed is probably my generic term for all of what you say!
Obviously there are many factors.

OP’s posts: |
stucknoue Tue 09-Jul-19 13:36:32

There's general feeling that private schools coach them through exams more - revision classes, past papers, etc my dd was having 2 hours evening revision sessions right through the exams (boarding though on a scholarship) that doesn't happen in state schools and some (not all) struggle without the handholding at university

ErrolTheDragon Tue 09-Jul-19 13:38:36

Chatting to DD yesterday, she mentioned that whereas some of her maths classes had 30 students (24 from the FM set plus the best of the single maths people for shared modules), some of her privately educated pals had much smaller classes - typically ~6 but at one very prestigious school just 3. They must have had a heck of a lot of maths teachers.

This led to two different effects. The first, which may in part explain the lack of difference in the top of the graph, was that these students are very familiar with the tutorial/supervision Oxbridge model. But, some of them (not all!) were inherently perhaps slightly weaker at the subjects.

The other thing she noted was that while the minimum offer for her course was two A stars and an A, quite commonly the private school applicants doing more A levels would have higher offers.

I don't think this graph is too remarkable. A school with better teaching resources should provide somewhat better output for the same input.


jayritchie Tue 09-Jul-19 23:27:04

Interestingly the outcomes seem very similar with A level grades of AAB and better. Its below this level where the gap exists.

Xenia Wed 10-Jul-19 09:43:36

Yes, so private school children with the usual AAB type grades and higher you need to the better universities which lead to the better jobs tend to do fine. We do need to realise soe private schools cater for chidlren who are not very brght - they are not all St Paul's, Manchester Grammar, very bright competitive entry schools so it can be a bit hard to generalise.

I am not sure tiny classes at A level is always desirable as there are fewer people to bounce ideas off but I agree there is likely to be reasonable norm. Also the large very academically selective grammar and private schools will have larger classes where as the smaller private schools will have smaller classes simply because there are fewer pupils in the school.

These kinds of surveys ideally should also look at earnings 10 years after university too so parents able to pay fees or choose a state grammar can do a full comparison.

janinlondon Wed 10-Jul-19 15:45:08

I don't think you can compare level of degree across all universities or across all courses. There are many more factors at play here. The value of a 2:1 is certainly not the same at all universities. In the same way that an English degree is not the same across all universities. I think the figure is essentially flawed.

SoonerthanIthought Wed 10-Jul-19 15:55:47

Strange that there is little difference for AAA and AAB, but a substantial difference for the one called "AAA (+1)". What does that category mean? (I don't know where the table comes from so can't check).

What about A*s - would be interesting to know the data for those as well?

BazaarMum Wed 10-Jul-19 15:58:01

There’s a huge range of factors. State pupils are more likely to have to deal with distractions of larger classes, do more self-directed study/revision with less hand holding, all of which helps when you are in a university setting where it’s all down to you whether and how much you work.

I did see some of this effect at my Russell Group uni - private kids pissing their allowances up the wall and not really coping with the lack of structure (and getting poor results in the first year and not knowing why)

As a state kid I was motivated to do well, had study skills and knew how to work out my own revision timetable etc. We were scoffed at a bit but most of my state counterparts got Firsts, noticeably higher proportion that the private kids.

stubiff Thu 11-Jul-19 08:39:37

To answer some of the questions.

The report is here
Couldn't find anything newer.
It doesn't include A* as the data is from before it was introduced.

AAA+1 is 3 A's plus one other not at A (as that is covered by AAAA+). Not sure why this one should be an oddity.
AAA is only 3 taken.
AAB and below are the grades of best 3 taken.

@janinlondon, it's comparing the school type of the students, nothing to do with the value of a 2:1/1st.

OP’s posts: |
janinlondon Thu 11-Jul-19 09:04:31

The data is only valid if we presume that the standard of an upper second or higher is the same across all institutions, otherwise we are not comparing like with like. In addition, the cohort EXCLUDES all dentistry and medicine students, which will clearly have skewed the result? How is this in any way useful or informative?

MrsMiggins37 Thu 11-Jul-19 09:08:17

I wonder if a lot of private school kids are actually spoon fed past their ability just to pass exams and then struggle when they have to study and learn under their own devices

Needmoresleep Thu 11-Jul-19 10:53:22

I wonder if a lot of private school kids are actually spoon fed past their ability just to pass exam

How bizarre. Our experience was that the private school DC went to taught beyond the syllabus and expected pupils to develop independent study skills. In many way a better preparation for tertiary education than a 'focus on the mark scheme' approach.

Schools, universities and students are diverse, and there are too many variables to gather clear conclusions. (Perhaps private schools are better at getting pupils onto more demanding courses, where getting a first is less likely.) But hey, lets simply decide its all down to spoonfeeding.

stubiff Thu 11-Jul-19 12:24:55

The data is only valid if we presume that the standard of an upper second or higher is the same across all institutions, otherwise we are not comparing like with like.
Disagree, in that the comparison is of school type. That would make all comparisons of degree classification meaningless.

Re Dentistry/Medicine - which are you saying, with the same A-levels, would do better - State or Independent? Assume you're saying that to say that it's skewed.
I assume the entry reqs for those are very/pretty high- so don't really see it as any different to the data shown - i.e. would be little difference between State and Independent.

OP’s posts: |
janinlondon Thu 11-Jul-19 12:30:06

Yes, I agree - comparison of degree classification is meaningless.

janinlondon Thu 11-Jul-19 12:31:09

And there is no justification for choosing just a selection of degrees. The data are incomplete.

SirTobyBelch Thu 11-Jul-19 12:44:55


In addition, the cohort EXCLUDES all dentistry and medicine students, which will clearly have skewed the result? How is this in any way useful or informative?

Not directly to do with private vs state, but there was a study of performance at medical school that showed students with equal A-level grades performed much better if they had attended a school with lower average grades (McManus et al, 2013). So, overall, students who attend schools where average A-level grades are higher (typically private and/or selective schools) will do less well at medical school than students with the same A-level grades achieved at a school where average A-level performance is lower.

This is a very consistent finding from multiple studies: students with grades below the very top level perform better if they achieved those grades in a less advantaged eduicational environment. This really isn't surprising.

stubiff Thu 11-Jul-19 12:49:11

Yes, I agree - comparison of degree classification is meaningless.
I wasn't agreeing with you!
Tell that to employers who may have to choose between a 1st from XYZ and a 2:1 from ABC and a 2:2 from DEF.

You didn't answer the question about Dentistry/Medicine - for it to skew the data, by it being missing (small % of the total), then you must think it is substantially different to the AAA/AAB values, either way?

OP’s posts: |
ErrolTheDragon Fri 12-Jul-19 08:12:23

The lack of any external standard for what constitutes a First or 2:1, coupled with grade inflation which also varies with uni/course, presumably means that employers will still be looking at A level grades and have university rankings in mind when they make those distinctions. Which is problematic for those who've been to less good schools and had poorer advice on university choice. The student who gains a first from a low ranked uni which awards many firsts may have been capable of excelling on a top ranked course - grade inflation does them a disservice.

Universities told to act as top degrees double in seven years

woodenplank Fri 12-Jul-19 08:22:49

This happened when I was at college, the ones that floundered first had been pushed and cuddled and couldn't actually work independently. It was a massive culture shock which some don't survive. Some of my friends had very expensive education but it really didn't help them with life.

MollyButton Fri 12-Jul-19 08:29:17

I would think the factors are many. In the state school system Sixth Form often involves a lot of independent study - which sets the students up well for University. In the private sector sometimes there are very small class sizes (eg. 2), which means a lot more input from the teacher and won't be replicated at University (even Oxbridge really). There must be a "cramming" effect that some teacher friends of mine have also seen at Private Secondaries, where pupils from certain Prep schools tend to underperform as they kick back having been crammed. And of course to get great grades from a badly performing school, means there is intelligence and motivation present that isn't the "norm".

Salary after University is of course influenced by the old boy network. And I've known less good students waltz into good jobs ahead of much better candidates because they have a certain "private school self-confidence". And of course one of the reasons to pay for education is to get your children the high grades to get into a good university.
If private education didn't produce better grades and contacts and "polish" would many people still pay?

Xenia Sun 14-Jul-19 10:49:12

It depends on the job - in some of the better City jobs they will hold against you a connection to the company as they have clients demanding fairness, diversity etc and they want the best candidates which you don't get from recruiting in a small pool.

I paid school fees as did my parents and I don't think any of us has ever achieved a "contact" that got a single job actually. I applied to 140 law firms and had 25 interviews before getting a job - it was very hard indeed - back in the 80s recession. There were no connections about it. The things some of us pay for via school fees are quite varied depending on the family eg we are very into choral singing etc so a school where boys sing music the family enjoys to a high standard was part of it. I also like single sex education tio age 18 so in a sense I bought that too for the 5 children. A wide range of things mattered to me in that choice and one of my children drives a grocery delivery van ( he/she does have a degree) for a living so don't assume everyone at private school chooses high paid career by any means - people just differ whatever their background (his sisters are London lawyers and no did not get their jobs through connections. I don't even know how anyone could call up a friend and ask for a job - the system in most cases does not work like that - first you sit an online test, then you feed in exam grades which must be high enough, then an HR person with diversity top of their list does a filtering exercise etc etc.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in