A teenager from one of the most deprived areas in east London opens up about his experience at Eton College
30th July 2019
Daniel Kupoluyi stands nervously in the central courtyard of Eton College in front of the imposing statue of its founder, King Henry VI. This school is the most elite institution in Britain, epitomising privilege: it has produced 20 UK prime ministers, including Boris Johnson. His fellow Old Etonians occupy powerful roles across the establishment and are marked by what one headmaster described as “effortless superiority”.
Yet Daniel, 14, comes from a different world. While many of his classmates grew up in manor houses in the smartest parts of the UK, his family lives in one of Britain’s most deprived areas: Dagenham, in east London. His remarkable journey gives a unique insight into the school culture that shaped young Boris and so many of Britain’s past and present leaders. To fit in, Daniel has spent much of his first year learning to navigate an entirely new world, one where even the way that a boy walks past King Henry VI’s statue has to be negotiated according to unwritten Etonian law.
What message would Daniel give to youngsters from his background contemplating a five-year immersion in the Etonian experience? “Seize it, but try to be yourself,” he says. “Most boys are rich. Sometimes, this can make you wish for the same because they don’t have to carry the burden of worrying about how their family will survive. They have many opportunities to meet people and see the world, but maybe being separated from their family at such young ages brings its own baggage.
“I am grateful to Eton for giving me the opportunity. I hope other black boys might read my story and allow it to spark something in them that says, ‘If he can, so can I.’ ”
Eton says that it aims to give financial assistance to 25% of boys at the school. In 2017-2018, more than 250 received some financial assistance — including 82 who had all their fees paid by bursaries — at a cost of £6.4m.
Number of students offered degree place regardless of exam grades rises despite crackdown
The proportion of university applicants being offered a place on a degree course regardless of their exam grades has risen to nearly two in five despite a government crackdown on the practice.
A total of 97,045 university applicants, who were yet to complete their qualifications at school or college, received an offer that could be considered unconditional, new figures from Ucas show.
Thirty-eight per cent of 18-year-old applicants from England, Northern Ireland and Wales received an offer with an unconditional element in 2019, compared to 34 per cent in 2018 and 1 per cent in 2013.
Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, said: “The use of unconditional offers remains a complex issue and continues to evolve.
“We look forward to working with the Office for Students and Universities UK (UUK) on their respective upcoming admissions practice reviews, to deliver meaningful recommendations.”
Alistair Jarvis, UUK chief executive, said their review into university admissions would bring together school, college and university leaders to ensure offer-making practices are “fair and transparent”.