Private v State & Oxbridge (& 11+)

(101 Posts)
Morefreedomless11plus Tue 11-Feb-20 14:22:47

I read this and thought of Mumsnet... Interesting links to “11+ flawed measure of aptitude” and Cambridge University research on state pupils doing better than independent school pupils at university. Written to provoke.

OP’s posts: |
PaddyF0dder Tue 11-Feb-20 14:31:07

I’m of the view that there is a core flaw at the centre of the UK: the class system, perpetuated by an aspect of the education system, that results in achievement by heredity as opposed to by merit.

We need to destroy the [rich family->private school->oxbridge->money and power] trajectory any way we can if we are to improve this country.

Lostkeyagain Tue 11-Feb-20 14:36:36

Are you living in the 18th century Paddy?

You do realise to get to Oxbridge these days you need to have top grades plus pass a rigourous entrance exam/interview. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, however rich you are, and you need to be genuinely extremely bright to get into Oxbridge.

PaddyF0dder Tue 11-Feb-20 14:47:28

Wow. Just a heck of a coincidence then that 42% of oxbridge places go to the privately educated. I mean, such a coincidence that being the child of wealth means you just happen to be the right sort of “extremely bright” to get a place.

Don’t fool yourself.

Lostkeyagain Tue 11-Feb-20 14:53:56

Just a thought, could it be that many private schools are highly selective so only take the brightest DC to start with? Including bright DC who are given scholarships.

Or do you genuinely believe that Oxbridge takes thick rich kids 😂😂

PaddyF0dder Tue 11-Feb-20 14:56:49

A cursory glance at our political classes might suggest an easier ride for rich thickos, yes. Unless you think Jacob Rees Mogg is secretly an intellectual titan.

Private schools will certainly be selective for SOMETHING, yes. But, as private companies, money talks. So they will be selecting from their tribe. Like will recruit like.

1Wanda1 Tue 11-Feb-20 15:04:09

Jacob Rees Mogg is 50, so he was at university 30 years ago.

The admissions policies of Oxford and Cambridge have moved on a lot in 30 years and now include positive outreach to less advantaged state pupils.

There is no evidence of "rich thickos" getting in to Oxford or Cambridge these days.

Baaaahhhhh Tue 11-Feb-20 15:08:37

Paddy the high percentage of private places at Oxbridge are because private schools tend to put far more students up for places. It is a numbers game. Put 3 up, and 1 will get in, put 100 up and 30 will get in.

PaddyF0dder Tue 11-Feb-20 15:13:13

“ There is no evidence of "rich thickos" getting in to Oxford or Cambridge these days.”

There’s a massive over-representation of private school graduates. What other evidence would you seek?

Let’s go back to first principles on this one, shall we?

1. Rich families send their kids to private school more than poor families
2. Those kids have a disproportionately higher chance of an oxbridge education, with the resultant leg-up in life

Now, if you are arguing the opposite, there are only a few avenues you can argue it. You could go with:

1. Rich parents are smarter, so their kids are smarter, so wealth is simply a confounder. This smacks of something close to eugenics, with the assumption that intelligence is mostly a genetic attribute that naturally occurs in the upper classes to greater levels than the poorer classes. There is, of course, no evidence for this. A lack of attainment in poor people is due to complex effects of social stress and poor schools, NOT a lack of innate ability.
2. Private schools don’t favour wealth in allocating their places. Which is an unusual take on a fundamentally capitalist enterprise
3. Oxbridge offers the same chances to all, irrespective of private schooling. In which case 7% of their students would be privately schooled, NOT over 40%

So, which argument are you making?

TeenPlusTwenties Tue 11-Feb-20 15:28:08

Rich parents are smarter, so their kids are smarter, so wealth is simply a confounder.

Smarter parents will on average have done better in their own education, thus on average leading to better paid jobs, leading to the ability to pay for private education.
Smarter parents will on average have smarter kids.

So I think some of reason 1 is valid.

You need to look at numbers applying from each sector and also numbers making the required grades, even if grades are adjusted to account for kids applying from less good schools.

You need to consider people self-selecting out from applying. There was a recent thread on here somewhere about 'will my poor DC feel out of place at Oxbridge'.

Both Oxford & Cambridge do a lot of outreach and want to take more kids from state schools. I agree they are not there yet, but progress is being made.

Baaaahhhhh Tue 11-Feb-20 15:36:11

Oxbridge offers the same chances to all, irrespective of private schooling. In which case 7% of their students would be privately schooled, NOT over 40%

It does, but you do have to apply in the first place, and this is Oxbridges's focus at the moment, trying to encourage applications from less represented demographics.

Also for 6th Form, pupil percentages are higher, some 18% are private, and of course 5% are Grammar Schools.

PaddyF0dder Tue 11-Feb-20 15:37:37

A lot of research into the genetics of intelligence suggests an innate resetting at the next generation. Basically, you get a smart kid, who is outwith the mean. You then get a regression to the mean in the next generation.

But that smart kid will, if life goes well, attain wealth and privilege and opportunity. They don’t necessarily get to hand the intelligence down. But they do get to hand down the privilege. Hence, the rotten class system.

Like I said, it’s a system that needs smashing from all directions. And one direction is an intake to units thy reflects the general population.

Ami01 Tue 11-Feb-20 15:37:44

I think there are some valid arguments here
I am from state school and I recall the perception even for the brightest was that we will not fit in and did not want to even apply for Oxbridge, opting for the top London unis and equivalent with the view that these would be a lot more 'normal'.

I think that this is built up with the image these universities create and the system. It is from what I hear similar in other countries, ivy league in the US etc.

PaddyF0dder Tue 11-Feb-20 15:57:34

The point about under-application by poorer people is a good one. But really just strengthens the argument that oxbridge forms part of a system the encourages the social status quo.

Are there stats available regarding rates of applications from public/private schools, and the relative odds of such an application being successful?

coelietterra Tue 11-Feb-20 16:48:49

Just an aside, but I happen to know someone who was at Oxford with JRM, who reports that he's a very bright guy. Yes, he might be a total arsehole with objectionable views, I'm not not arguing with that. But why are you assuming he's thick just because he's rich and a prat?

PaddyF0dder Tue 11-Feb-20 16:53:18

It is an appraisal based on the actions he presents to the world.

ZandathePanda Tue 11-Feb-20 16:54:58

My daughters are very bright and state educated. Youngest still at school. The eldest didn’t like the Oxbridge courses/ towns/system and didn’t want to go. No pressure was put on her. She’s gone to Newcastle to a course and city she loves.

In contrast, I was public school educated and a sub-set was separated out in the first term of Year 12 and this ‘supergroup’ had separate tutorials each week discussing the exams, interviews, college tactics. Very different in terms of expectations from the school, parents and peers.

titchy Tue 11-Feb-20 16:56:47

* Oxbridge offers the same chances to all, irrespective of private schooling. In which case 7% of their students would be privately schooled, NOT over 40%*

If the academic ability of the 83% educated in the state sector was the same as the 17% (your stats are incorrect btw) then I'd agree. But they're not. Private schools select by wealth AND academics.

Reduce your potential applicants to just those academically able, you can even reduce grades by a couple for the state school educated, but you get much more balanced admissions. Not perfect - still a small bias towards the privately educated, but that's due to other reasons (E.g. subject choice, location).

coelietterra Tue 11-Feb-20 16:57:07

Sadly, intelligent doesn't equate with displaying good judgment and doing good deeds.

titchy Tue 11-Feb-20 16:58:29

* Are there stats available regarding rates of applications from public/private schools, and the relative odds of such an application being successful?*

Yes. Both Oxford and Cambridge publish stats in this. Try looking at their websites. and don't start posts unless you've got some actual facts to hand

coelietterra Tue 11-Feb-20 17:03:42

On the actual question of the thread, I totally agree that there should be efforts to widen access. But I absolutely don't think that Oxbridge is full of rich idiots (or has been for a very long time). I was there 25 years ago and I can think of vanishingly few people who weren't academically 'deserving' of their place. That doesn't mean there weren't state school kids who would have been even more deserving - but the suggestion that Oxbridge is/was full of rich thick kids is totally not my experience. (I was a state school applicant, if that's relevant.)

KirorivePeyowa Tue 11-Feb-20 17:11:23

It's obvious that once they get to university, state school pupils will tend to do better than private school pupils. They have had a tougher journey to get there. Those without the resilience to persevere won't get through, however bright they are.

Of course Private School gives pupils advantages - the pupils get more teacher attention, better resources, more expensive equipment, and an absence of disruptive pupils turning their teachers into riot-control-officers. So they are more likely to get to the age of 18/19 with a bunch of A* A and B grades sufficient to get places on good uni courses. If this wasn't the case then the only reason to pay for a Private School would be to make sure that Jemima doesn't mix with any of the rough children, which wouldn't really be worth it.

It is quite right and proper that Universities should ensure that the bright students from state schools are given their fair share of opportunities at higher education. Withdrawing an unfair privilege isn't discrimination, and the equally bright students from Private Schools will still get their fair share too. It's only the thick and rich who will lose out here, and that's not too much of a problem.

1Wanda1 Tue 11-Feb-20 17:29:06

Paddy, your arguments really don't stack up. It does not follow that because more private school kids go to Oxbridge, they are "rich thickos".

The sad fact is that if you take 2 kids of comparable intellectual raw ability and put one in a selective private school with lots of resources and dedicated attention to that pupil's development, and put the other into a big standard comprehensive with 30 kids per class, over-stretched teachers, and ever-diminishing resources, the private school kid is likely to do better academically BECAUSE IT IS EASIER FOR THEM TO DO SO. Then they have a better chance of getting into Oxbridge than the state school kid.

That doesn't mean that the private school kid isn't clever enough for Oxbridge, it means that it was easier for them to reach their academic potential.

This is not about intelligence and "rich thickos". It is about opportunity.

MidLifeCrisis007 Tue 11-Feb-20 17:54:33

Unlike 20 years ago, Oxford now takes a very broad range of abilities. For Maths (single and joint honours), applicants take an aptitude test. The attached shows the aptitude scores of accepted applicants in the latest round. They turn away lots of very bright students with MAT scores of over 80 and accept lots with scores under 60. The same applies across all subjects.

keyboardwarrior1 Tue 11-Feb-20 18:04:57


The 7% figure refers to the percentage of of UK students in the private school system as a whole. At 6 th form over 20% of UK students are privately educated.

Some people quote the 7% figure to mislead.

If you want to look at disproportionate representation at Oxford look at grammar school students.

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