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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?

Tressy Thu 04-Oct-12 12:59:55

Stillsquiffy, I would expect the choice to be more degree specific subject that admission tutors have to choose between. e.g Indie pupil AAB in Maths, Chem and Physics - State pupil ABB in Maths, Chem and Physics.

The ones doing business and media are likely to be applying for business and media degrees ime.

LittleFrieda Thu 04-Oct-12 13:08:13

Hmm. Unfortunately, I think the game is almost over for private schools. Much like it is in the City of London. Anyone who pays for education and claims it does not confer advantage is a liar.

So the real argument is: should you be able to buy a lifetime of advantage in the UK? I don't think you should.

How do we go about ensuring lifetime advantage is not for sale? I think the Direct Grant system was a good start.

Chandon Thu 04-Oct-12 13:08:54

agree with this: "If state schools aren't cutting the mustard, then don't blame private schools. Lay the blame where it belongs."

But I am not too worried about the kids who had great A levels at private school, but did not get into Uni. With their level of education and grades, they will be welcome in many (most!) other countries, and make excellent progress there.

Back in the 90s, I spent a year at uni in Holland, and did you know that Medicine Students were selected through lottery? Not the best grades, no that would not have been "fair", but a lottery! How bonkers is that? They don't even have private schools, so all grades were from State Schools. ... still, doctors in Holland are not worse than here, I don't think. So who knows? Maybe we should not look at school grades at all, but just do an entrance exam (part of which would be to test a student's motivation)?

wordfactory Thu 04-Oct-12 13:10:05

Speaking to some of my frineds and colleagues who deal with admissions, their opinion seesm to be that if students are unable to present themselves conherently and with some degree of confidence at interview, then they will not fair well on certain courses.

I can see how that would be the case. Particularly on te one-to-one tutorial system offered at Oxbridge. No where to hide. Like and interview really.

The MA I teach on requires students to be able to take part orally in a confident, enthusiastic way from day one. It's part and parcel of how we teach it. In the first term they will all lead a commentray session, they will all present to the group and have several one to ones with tutors. Students need to be able to express themselves and their views well to undertake the course.

How much lee-way can universities be expected to give?

LittleFrieda Thu 04-Oct-12 13:13:42

I think all secondary school admissions should be by lottery. Because going to a comp in a wealthy enclave confers advantage in the same way an independent school confers advantage.

Aboutlastnight Thu 04-Oct-12 13:13:50

I think there are plenty of incentives for state schools to improve - gov targets, Ofsted - but you must also remember that state education also has to do its best for children with a eide range of skills - not all will be capable or want university.

Actually, I am very pleased with state education so far and if it becomes easier for my DDs to get the courses they want then all the better. I'm sure the teachers are not going to put their feet up just because 2% of their students might find it a tiny bit easier to go to Cambridge or wherever the mumsnet Holy Grail us these days grin

losingtrust Thu 04-Oct-12 13:14:27

Simple, presentation skills training instead of freshers work. Is it really a reason to continue with an interview system that favours those who have been trained prior to uni against those with less training. Do we want a teacher who could speak well at 18 or at 21, or a Doctor?

Nosleeptillgodknowswhen Thu 04-Oct-12 13:17:06

you might find this interesting..

Article behind the scenes in the Cambridge admissions process.

Bonsoir Thu 04-Oct-12 13:17:37

Chandon - there are some truly shocking doctors (GPs) according to my well-informed sources. Now I know why! Thanks!

LettyAshton Thu 04-Oct-12 13:18:26

I don't know if anyone saw that documentary on tv recently about two posh boys at Oxford and Cambridge who were in the Tory party.

Well, it turned out they weren't posh at all: they were both from very ordinary (and in one case, very, very, ordinary) homes. But they were clearly very clever.

It did make me think, however "Kleider machen Leute" - they had adopted the dress and mannerisms of those by whom they wished to be accepted.

It doesn't matter so much (if at all) for maths and science subjects, but if one is aiming for the arts at Oxbridge I think one definitely has to talk the expected talk.

Aboutlastnight Thu 04-Oct-12 13:18:35

In terms of one-to-one tutorials - I really, really wish I'd had that at university, it would have helped me so much in my academic work and later life.

Bonsoir Thu 04-Oct-12 13:18:41

in Holland

ReallyTired Thu 04-Oct-12 13:24:35

A state school in a wealthy enclave will be as privilaged as many private schools. Rather than positive discrimination I would like the admissions process to be made fairer. Prehaps prospective students could be assessed by an educational pychologist as well as an academic tutor. A bright state school child may well have a higher IQ than a private school child with equal grades.

I don't think its fair to lump all state schools together. Its harder to get good grades from Inner city shitty comp than posh leafy comprehensive in a super rich area.

sieglinde Thu 04-Oct-12 13:26:30

Hi, LettyAshton. Fwiw, I'm an admissions tutor in humanities at Oxford, and I'm interested to know what you think the 'expected talk' is.

My own sense is that a lot of misleading rumours circulate, especially in independent-sector schools, and I'm hoping to clarify where possible and to understand better myself.

LittleFrieda Thu 04-Oct-12 13:28:44

Those who opt for private school schould be branded "PRIVATE" on their foreheads, so everyone knows to let them queue jump and give them special treatment throughout their whole lifetime.

Aboutlastnight Thu 04-Oct-12 13:32:43

LittleFrieda - thst's not fair, just because their parents 'work hard' and sacrifice expensive cars and holidays, it's not their fault their parents are just better people than your average Joe.

StillSquiffy Thu 04-Oct-12 13:39:32

Those who opt for private school schould be branded "PRIVATE" on their foreheads, so everyone knows to let them queue jump and give them special treatment throughout their whole lifetime.

No branding required, just an absence of chips on their shoulders.

losingtrust Thu 04-Oct-12 13:41:54

'Better people', no 'chips on your shoulders' - arent you the lucky ones!

YouBrokeMySmoulder Thu 04-Oct-12 13:43:04

The other problem with this is not all state schools are equal. Indeed in superselective grammar school areas the grammars have a very similar societal make-up to the local indie schools. Will they be prioritised?

What about the children who are at indie schools on full bursaries - will they be discrminated against?

I am in favour, of course of trying to remove the advantages of fee-paying schools but this may need to be done at 11 (assited places anyone?) rather than 18.

mirry2 Thu 04-Oct-12 13:47:33

Oxbridge is not the holy grail.

At the moment I have two friends whose children have recently graduated with a science degree from Oxford or Cambridge. One was state educated and the other went to a private school at the top of the league tables. Both kids are unemployed and can't find work. All my friends can say is 'I can't understand it. They went to Oxbridge.'

losingtrust Thu 04-Oct-12 13:48:22

A state school in a wealthy enclave will be as privilaged as many private schools. Rather than positive discrimination I would like the admissions process to be made fairer. Prehaps prospective students could be assessed by an educational pychologist as well as an academic tutor. A bright state school child may well have a higher IQ than a private school child with equal grades.

This seems fair and no need for forehead branding or chip removal required

losingtrust Thu 04-Oct-12 13:52:30

mirry 2 - perhaps that is because they either got low degrees compared to a 1st from Manchester or picked pure science subjects that are not directly transferable in the workplace. Also I have to say some companies may also be directly discriminating. 'Far too clever for us' mentality. It does work both ways and kids who go there may need to be aware of this. I work with a guy from Cambridge and the Board were against him from day one as soon as they found out where his degree was from. Also some other universities may actually have a better reputation for that subject. Only heresay but on a previous thread it was mentioned that other universities were better for medicine.

DameKewcumber Thu 04-Oct-12 13:52:55

If two pupils do equally well on paper then an aptitude test of some sort (the kind which cannot be prepared for preferably) should be used to decide.

In my limited experience (three nephews and nieces at different local private schools) private schools get the middle ranking ranking students onto higher A level grades than local state schools due the to sheer numbers in state schools/class sizes. The most academically able pupils will often do well regardless of where they go unless its a truly dreadful school (bitter experience).

Why are so many people up in arms about two equal pupils and one being selected over another. Only one can be selected - there isn't an obvious "fair" way to do it - why is picking state school as a default any less fair than picking private school by default?

Aboutlastnight Thu 04-Oct-12 13:55:15

I'm not chippy, but I do get irritated at the sense of entitlement shown by some people on this thread. Private ed does not guarantee your child a place at the university of your choice. I fon't think it is appropriate to talk of privately educated children being 'discriminated against,' they are not some oppressed minority, they are massively advantaged and will not suffer as a result of universities showing done preference for state ex children on occasion.

mirry2 Thu 04-Oct-12 14:04:07

I think that Oxbridge should allocate all their places to state school pupils.

Losing trust I completely agree with you about transferability of the degree to the workplace, which is why I don't understand the obsession with getting into Oxbridge. I suspect that if Oxbridge offered places only to state school pupils, the privately educated would all flock to another place and raise its desirability.

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