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‘Don’t diss private schools over Oxbridge entries’

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‘Don’t diss private schools over Oxbridge entries’

All schools – regardless of sector – should ask if they are doing enough to get pupils into Oxbridge, argues Dorothy MacGinty, head of Kilgraston School in Perthshire.

Independent schools will spend time and resources on the university application process, but surely it is the responsibility of all schools to prepare pupils for entry to their chosen university, including encouraging our brightest to aspire to the best universities in the country?

It was reported last week that successful Oxbridge applications from just eight “top independent schools” were greater than three-quarters of all maintained schools in the UK.

While this may be a startling statistic, it also needs to be put into the context of where the pressures lie with all UK universities who are challenged with funding their courses.

However, a fact frequently overlooked in the rush to “diss” private education is that many hundreds of children from limited or average financial backgrounds attend independent schools having gained bursaries and/or scholarships.

These candidates are very likely to have significantly contributed to last week’s announcement on the percentage of independent school success at Oxbridge.

In Scotland alone, across the independent sector each year, £51 million is given in fee assistance by 74 member schools. Nearly 25 per cent, representing 7,201 mainstream pupils, receive means-tested assistance, with 573 pupils receiving full, 100 per cent bursaries. In the past decade alone, over £400 million of assistance has been given.

Across the UK, annual fee assistance amounts to over £378 million, representing 40,402 pupils, or 7.6 per cent of all independently educated pupils.

Having a larger percentage of independent school pupils gaining places on Oxbridge courses may provide an opportunity to have a bash at the sector, but it should also pose the question of why Oxford and Cambridge are not broader in their intake. The industry needs to look in on itself and work to encourage more maintained schools to attempt the seemingly unassailable mountain that is the Oxbridge application process.

It is true that Oxbridge should accept the absolute best candidates – they are, after all, two of the best universities in the world. But they should accept candidates on their merit without dumbing down entry requirements dependent on background. Inclusion, yes, but social engineering is not their job.

Read more at: https://www.tes.com/news/dont-diss-private-schools-over-oxbridge-entries

The leader of Scotland's 2016 Remain campaign warns withdrawal from the EU will have as-yet-unanticipated consequences on schools.

John Edward, director of the Scottish Council of Independent Schools argues that whatever happens in the Westminster Parliament and beyond, substantial change and upheaval are now inevitable in education. The operating system of the UK and Scotland is being altered – and may take some time to reboot.

Edward’s explains that educational institutions are as exposed by the implications as those in any other sector. This is as true of day schools in Scotland's state and independent sectors as it is of those international boarding schools that, unlike in England, do not exist in the state sector.

The Single European Act of 1992, enshrined the “four freedoms” of movement in goods, services, capital and workers. While the first three have proved relatively uncontroversial within the UK, the free movement of workers (often, incorrectly, termed the free movement of people) became increasingly contentious after the accession of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe in 2004 and 2007. To date, UK government policy remains focused on bringing the free movement of workers to an end. By implication, this requires departure from the single market and therefore an end to the UK’s membership of the wider European Economic Area (EEA).

Outside the single market, the introduction of some form of visa requirement might by itself discourage a number of applications to school posts from EU/EEA countries. Figures for 2018 from the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) already show a substantial drop in applicants from EU countries. Only 14 EU teachers applied for GTCS registration up until 30 June 2018 – down from 128 in 2015, 159 in 2016 and 186 in 2017. At the same time, the shift of focus away from recruitment in Europe may potentially open up availability for work visas for citizens of non-EEA countries, such as those in the Commonwealth.

Read more at: https://www.tes.com/news/schools-will-be-left-exposed-brexit