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Private schools 'handicapped by university targets'

(264 Posts)
Sonatensatz Wed 03-Oct-12 11:07:47

Just read an article in the times commenting that new government targets for universities to take more pupils from state schools is putting those in private schools at a disadvantage, essentially because if their are two equal students the universities should prioritise the state schooled child with an addition that they should lower the grade boundaries for state schooled children. (sorry can't link it's behind the pay barrier)

The article got me thinking that surely the fairest way to select students for university would be to remove the requirement for them to put their school on the application form. Each student could be provided with a reference from their school or college on a standard form which didn't reveal the school on it. That way each pupil would be assessed on their merits and not on the type of school they went to.

Also if, as it seems part of the issue is the level of extra coaching private schooled children get to get them through the exams perhaps a scheme (supported by businesses or private schools as part of the requirement for them to benefit the wider community in order to gain charitable status) could be set up to identify the most talented disadvantaged youngsters from across the country and provide them with bursaries to access extra tuition.

What do others think?

sashh Mon 08-Oct-12 04:44:03

I don't think the "deprived background" kids have a monopoly on unfairness. As I posted above, the middle-class but not especially well-off or well-connected pupils face the same hurdles.

In that case you have no idea of a deprived background.

There is a family I know, their mother dragged them out of school in one town (literally marched into the eldest's school and took him out of the SATs) to another. SS had been involved because the children were stealing food from other children.

In the second town she moved in with her mother, who had one spare room so they shared one bedroom, mum, dad and 6 kids. The room had no bed and no carpet.

The eldest started secondary 3 weeks late because his mother claimed she didn't know how to apply.

Mother then fell out with grandmother so dragged the kids to their paternal grandparents. While there she didn't bother finding a secondary for the eldest, it was better that he took the younger ones to and from school.

He then had to stay up into the small hours to tell his dad how to progress on a computer game.

Then there was another falling out (after about 6 months) and they went back to the second town. Grandma now has custody of three children, their aunt has custody of the other three. The mother complained about the gran getting custody because that meant she would get 'my money'.

So, how many middle class children have that kind of start? How many middle class kids sleep on a bare floor sharing a sheet with a sibling? How many middle class parents don't feed their children?

mirry2 Mon 08-Oct-12 09:22:19

Sash the situation you describe is far more deepseated than can be fixed by changing the education/Oxbridge allocation system

OutragedAtThePriceOfFreddos Mon 08-Oct-12 09:46:20

Sashh, harsh as it sounds, a child who has been brought up in circumstances like that is highly unlikely to be a good Oxbridge candidate. Not because of a lack of intelligence or determination or anything else, but because he simply hasn't been taught to learn. It would take an exceptional person to be able to cope with an upbringing like that and to then be able to get successful GCSE and A level results and make the most of a place at Oxbridge.

Universities do not owe people from disadvantaged backgrounds a favour, they are there to prepare scholars who can go on to benefit society.

Also, a child in that situation is not representative of the vast majority of state school pupils, and you can't base a policy on extreme situations.

alemci Mon 08-Oct-12 10:46:45


could that mother done better for herself. sounds like her situation was of her own making to an extent. why have 6 kids in this day and age, if you cannot support them properly. alot of people come from bad situations and don't carry on like that.

you could argue that the 'middle classes' have become that way by working hard at school and making sensible choices. many of them may have come from rubbish backgrounds.

yes i agree totally awful for her poor children

ReallyTired Mon 08-Oct-12 11:32:02

People from deprived backgrounds often do learn how to learn at a later date. I went to uni with someone who joined the army at 17. He left the army in his thirties, did an access course and then went to uni to study biology where he did really well.

The student in challenging circumstances may well not be ready to study at 18, but make an excellent mature student at 22.

mirry2 Mon 08-Oct-12 12:24:09

I agree with you reallytired. I think the OU has been a huge benefit for amny people who missed out or had bad education experiences when they were younger.

sieglinde Mon 08-Oct-12 12:46:33

mirry, I didn't meet too many taxi driver parents in my dcs sojourn in private schools.

xenia is also right to say that resilience isn't confined to people from any particular social group. I've known some very resilient people from comps and some fragile blossoms from the private sector. I've also had some fragile sports stars and some resilient couch potatoes. I think it's all character, personally - the student's and the parents'.

mirry2 Mon 08-Oct-12 12:59:45

Siglinde Well there were plenty with similar occupations at my dds top performing private school: off the top of my head and amongst my friends I remember a school cook, a police constable, a driving instructor, a taxi driver (black cab) a nurse (single parent), pharmacist, half a dozen state school teachers and a few GPs.

sieglinde Mon 08-Oct-12 14:05:08

Sounds lovely, mirry; wish we had been so lucky. GPs abounded and so did solicitors, but most were frighteningly rich and 20-bedroom manors were not uncommon.

ReallyTired Mon 08-Oct-12 14:35:28

I don't think its a university (Oxbridge, red brick, ex poly or otherwise) to solve the ills of the world. There will always be unfairness in the world, and prehaps the best way to improve the world is to give the places at the best universities to the best students.

It must be hard to decide who you think is going to make the best of an academic opportunity.

sieglinde do you think that Oxford would be interested in this young man if he choose to apply. William Kamkwamba has had far great handicaps in life than virtually any university student in the UK.

Yet look at what he achieved.

mirry2 Mon 08-Oct-12 14:36:50

Siglinde it just shows that people shouldn't make assumptions about the backgrounds of kids from private schools, although my dd's is a London day school (with awesome results) and maybe boarding schools are different. I went to boarding school and remember the stream of bentleys.

Xenia Mon 08-Oct-12 14:38:02

I certainly mean ti imply the children of nurses are not at private schools, of course they are and my point was resilience and staying power is a personality thing. I do think some private schools manage to teach it and confidence better than many state schools but as I said they have no monopoly over it. You want someone who does not collapse under pressure and is in tears all the time at work and constantly off sick.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Mon 08-Oct-12 15:13:55

er - my dc are one of the top academic indies - there are several nurse parents I know personally ( they are also single parents as it happens, so anotehr myth exploded) - along with parents of numerous other job types...

sieglinde Mon 08-Oct-12 16:19:11

ReallyTired - heavens, yes! He sounds great. We'd have to look into his academicals, but we could probably arrange something Acessish for someone so obviously outstanding.

MrsSalvo and mirry, don't get me wrong. All schools differ, in all sectors. The indy school I was thinking of is a top boarding-prep school. But similar things are true of the top non-boarding schools in Oxford, including one of the top comps. I really don't think personal wealth is the only factor in educational aspiration and sense of entitlement anyway. Some v. rich students have had dismally impoverished lives, and the reverse has also been true; musicians' kids often have no money but bags of savoir-faire. Agree with xenia - it's down to sheer guts, as much as anything.

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