As you know, thanks to Tristram Hunt's speech on private schools, the topic of independent schools and social mobility once again became news for the past few days.
In this thread, I want to focus on one particular angle: Would your children be discriminated against in their Oxbridge applications, if they study at a private or grammar school. At first, this question may be surprising as about half of the Oxbridge intake are from the independent sector, and I suppose many children from grammar schools also do well. So why should one be worried?
Because on the Telegraph yesterday, the writer Allison Pearson told this story:
" The other night, I went to a feast at a Cambridge college. The hall thrummed with the grave rumble of mighty brains and the crystal and silverware sparkled in the candlelight. I asked my learned neighbour how the college was doing raising the number of students from comprehensive schools. His reply was shocking. So desperate was the college to improve its ratio of state-school undergraduates that it had actually started accepting some kids with Bs, and even Cs, at A-level.
These youngsters arrived in Cambridge grossly unprepared and were promptly sent for a year, at the college’s expense, to a local sixth-form crammer where they would be taught to write essays and to generally master all the things that privately educated high-fliers can do by the age of 16.
As a Comp Kid myself, I suppose I should have welcomed the news, but I was angry. Of course, it was very decent of the college to bend over backwards to accommodate applicants who hadn’t made the grade, but why couldn’t bright children from backgrounds like mine count on their secondary school to educate them properly in the first place?
How humiliating that poorer kids were now admitted on “potential”, rather than knowledge and flair. I was staggered that a Cambridge college, which exists to stretch minds of the highest calibre, was paying for teenagers to be taught the basics to compensate for a comprehensive system which has never matched the thorough intellectual grounding offered by grammar schools.
This country, which once educated boys and girls in those grammars to the highest level – far better than many of the fanciest private schools – was now engaged in covert affirmative action, to meet fair-access targets. What other choice was there? "http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/se ... e-top.html
I suppose this anecdote is true. Otherwise, Cambridge would sue her for libel. And it means the Oxbridge dons would be likely to reject some children from the independent or grammar schools to welcome children from state schools, even though their exam results are not as good.
But how will you know if this unfortunate fate will fall on your children? Is there any indication to reasonably predict the outcome?