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    (Original post by MedicineMann)
    Speaking as someone who was raised in a grotty Leeds council estate and who worked very hard to get decent A levels and a place at an excellent university, I can tell you that the vast majority of my peers were deeply let down by the careers service at my school. My best friend was told by the career adviser not to apply to a Russell group university so ended up with AAB but a place at Hull University. I couldn't see this happening to someone who's parents had given them the leg up of a place at private school.
    I would agree with this, but it doesn't engage with what I've said with regards to the OP. You seem to be simply taking the opportunity to bash the injustice of private schools.
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    I had 25 people in my chemistry class, the private school across the road had 6 per class.. much more student-teacher interaction, therefore more help with tricky concepts and therefore better exam results..

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    (Original post by Birkenhead)
    I would agree with this, but it doesn't engage with what I've said with regards to the OP. You seem to be simply taking the opportunity to bash the injustice of private schools.
    Well, for example, no one has ever gone from my sixth form to oxbridge, so no ex-pupils ever came back to talk to us about the application process. None of our teachers went either so we had no idea about what the collegiate system entailed or what the workload was like there. That is the kind of 'soft interactions' private schools benefit from.
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    I broadly agree with the points in the article, except the comments about the STEP paper, which are ignorant.
    "The majority were not prepared for the kind of thinking they had to do. “Curve-sketching skills were weak,” the examiner noted, together with “an unwillingness to be imaginative and creative, allied with a lack of thoroughness and attention to detail”.

    I will wager that the people who scored top marks knew that their curves had to look like Leonardo da Vinci’s and that they had to demonstrate imagination and creativity – because their teachers had long experience of this exam, and the others had not. One Oxbridge admissions tutor admitted to me that such testing may add a further barrier to people from state schools."
    Curve sketching is pretty obviously about general shapes, illustrating slope laws and turning points and such, not about 1-to-1 accuracy. This actually shows another issue with state education and actually any private schools that use A-levels; the drilling on skills that universities consider basic, like graph sketching, is extremely poor. Not only basic skills in fact but just problem solving in general. There are many countries that are far ahead of the curve than us in maths tuition.
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    (Original post by Unkempt_One)
    I broadly agree with the points in the article, except the comments about the STEP paper, which are ignorant.
    "The majority were not prepared for the kind of thinking they had to do. “Curve-sketching skills were weak,” the examiner noted, together with “an unwillingness to be imaginative and creative, allied with a lack of thoroughness and attention to detail”.

    I will wager that the people who scored top marks knew that their curves had to look like Leonardo da Vinci’s and that they had to demonstrate imagination and creativity – because their teachers had long experience of this exam, and the others had not. One Oxbridge admissions tutor admitted to me that such testing may add a further barrier to people from state schools."
    Curve sketching is pretty obviously about general shapes, illustrating slope laws and turning points and such, not about 1-to-1 accuracy. This actually shows another issue with state education and actually any private schools that use A-levels; the drilling on skills that universities consider basic, like graph sketching, is extremely poor. Not only basic skills in fact but just problem solving in general. There are many countries that are far ahead of the curve than us in maths tuition.
    And that is not the only test with such bias. When I sat the HAT exam (for history admissions) I noticed that the language was quite advanced. After the exam, I called the test centre and asked if I could have bright a dictionary and they said no. I asked what about foreign students and they said even they aren't allowed to take them to the exam. I then read that the language of the test was criticised for favouring students from certain social classes. This really made me think whether top unis are deliberately trying to have more privately educated students. But to be fair, admissions tutors do not usually know if someone went to a public or private school and the tests are marked anonymously. So I don't know if it's true or not.
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    (Original post by Noble.)
    I wouldn't call it 'game the elite universities'. It shouldn't be the job of top universities to correct the vast inequality in education standards in this country, which will exist for as long as there are fee paying schools,
    Other european countries have fee paying schools and greater equality of outcome, IMO there's (probably) a specific cultural effect at work in England.

    they should be accepting the most academically able students that already meet the required standards.
    WHY should they? this appears to be the is/aught trap. A description of the current state of affairs isn't any sort of justification for it.
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    (Original post by Joinedup)
    Other european countries have fee paying schools and greater equality of outcome, IMO there's (probably) a specific cultural effect at work in England.



    WHY should they? this appears to be the is/aught trap. A description of the current state of affairs isn't any sort of justification for it.
    Yes, I don't doubt it's an issue affecting the UK more-so than a lot of other countries. What metrics other than academic ability should top universities be using? We certainly don't want to move to a system similar to the US and given that many (primarily science) courses at top universities are blatantly more academically challenging than those at other universities it would make little sense not placing a lot of weight in determining an applicant's academic ability (including the standards they're currently working at). The sad fact is, while there may be students with grades below the minimum entry requirements for Ox/Cam who would do well under a tutorial/supervision system, they'd massively struggle from the outset, and be playing a game of catch up for a lot of their degree.
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    (Original post by MedicineMann)
    Well, for example, no one has ever gone from my sixth form to oxbridge, so no ex-pupils ever came back to talk to us about the application process. None of our teachers went either so we had no idea about what the collegiate system entailed or what the workload was like there. That is the kind of 'soft interactions' private schools benefit from.
    You can find all this out after a couple of hours on google.
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    (Original post by arminb)
    And that is not the only test with such bias. When I sat the HAT exam (for history admissions) I noticed that the language was quite advanced. After the exam, I called the test centre and asked if I could have bright a dictionary and they said no. I asked what about foreign students and they said even they aren't allowed to take them to the exam. I then read that the language of the test was criticised for favouring students from certain social classes. This really made me think whether top unis are deliberately trying to have more privately educated students. But to be fair, admissions tutors do not usually know if someone went to a public or private school and the tests are marked anonymously. So I don't know if it's true or not.
    Why would they deliberately want more private-educated students?
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    (Original post by arminb)
    And that is not the only test with such bias. When I sat the HAT exam (for history admissions) I noticed that the language was quite advanced. After the exam, I called the test centre and asked if I could have bright a dictionary and they said no. I asked what about foreign students and they said even they aren't allowed to take them to the exam. I then read that the language of the test was criticised for favouring students from certain social classes. This really made me think whether top unis are deliberately trying to have more privately educated students. But to be fair, admissions tutors do not usually know if someone went to a public or private school and the tests are marked anonymously. So I don't know if it's true or not.
    I don't think that has much to do with social class. If you're applying to a world-class university for History I would assume you'd be expected to have read a lot, and if you have you will have an advanced vocabulary regardless of social class. There's no reason state schools can't get their students reading more, but unfortunately there was a recent fad to prioritise superficial source investigations over in-depth knowledge.
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    (Original post by arminb)
    So I am reading this V. interesting article on the Guardian which, in short, lays down the following points:

    1.16-year-olds [in state state schools] make their A-level choices relying on hearsay, myth and information that is outdated or uncheckable.

    2.
    Kids at private school can rely on schools that have continual informal contact with elite universities.

    3.Those in the private sector are not only advised to choose the right subjects but will achieve better grades due to a myriad of reasons. Better qualified teachers, peer pressure, significantly smaller class sizes...

    It concludes that,
    this ''is creating needless inequality of opportunity and is just the most obvious example of how poor access to informal knowledge penalises state school kids.'' and ''When the system fails bright kids from non-privileged backgrounds, we all lose''.
    Well, given it's from the Guardian I can't say I expected much better, but I think all 3 points are either wrong or at the very least flawed.
    1) I can't say that was the case, there is plenty of information online and ultimately, if you're an A-level student wanting to go to uni you probably have an idea what you want to do at uni, if you know what you want to do you can easily select 1-3 suitable subjects and then any extras needed isn't exactly a massive challenge, you're just after a complementary set.

    2) Except this would, at least theoretically, give no real benefit; any information that they glean this way is either as good as irrelevant or also available to the state school students if they do the right research.

    3) They miss out the most important factor: the selectiveness of the schools. For the most part, if you take a state and private school in the same area with cohorts of equivalent ability the results are likely roughly equivalent. For example: the sfc I went to was selective and run almost as if it were a grammar school; it consistently comes in the top 3 state schools nationwide, performs better than most private schools and only Westminster and Eton have higher rates of Oxbridge attendance (both having substantially smaller cohorts which means the less able don't drag the stats down).

    If state school students don't make a sensible decision the only people they can blame are themselves for not actually doing the research necessary, and largely the research isn't needed since a lot of it is rather state the obvious (eg; if you want to study STEM and uni, study it at A-level, essay subject essay subject etc)
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    My own view is that the Guardian are howling in the wind with this one.

    State schools and private schools are both demand led over A level choices but the difference is that state schools are demand led by students. If you don't offer the courses that students want, they will vote with their feet. Private schools are demand led by parents. If you don't offer the courses parents want they will vote with their wallets. What can you do about that?

    There is no big bumper book of perfect advice. I disagree with people who say everything can be found with a little Googling. There were three pieces of advice about doing further maths A level. In a sense, all are right. The private school teacher realises grades are king. If you don't get the grades, you won't get it. The RG university doesn't insist on further maths because it knows that if you put little known or difficult to achieve barriers to entry you end up with poor students who happen by accident or design get over the barrier. The Oxbridge college doesn't have a problem with a supply of able candidates. It is looking to sniff out a less able candidate trying to paper over his weaknesses. He didn't speak to a lower ranked university but if he had that might have said "do as much maths as possible". It might not be bothered about entrance grades but that candidates with less maths drop out or fail the first year. Therefore you can have four different pieces of correct advice about the same question, depending on the perspective.

    It looks like the author is essentially a middle class journalist whose kid is at a state school because he doesn't have enough money to pay the fees for London day schools. He is seeing the future through the same prism as the independent school parents but is finding that his school's response is more cloudy than theirs. In reality the life chances of his kid is probably not dissimilar to that of his independently educated peers. But what about those whose life chances are different? What he has is a belief in the universal value of an academic education and I am not sure that is right.

    The state school that does not encourage someone with the ability to get to Oxbridge is disgrace. The state school that encourages the working class girl with artistic flair onto the hair and beauty course rather than A levels with a view to a history of art degree at Sheffield or de Monfort, I am not so sure about. At age 32, the graduate is an Executive Officer with Ministry of Justice. The girl with the ability to be a graduate but who did the hairdressing course has opened her own salon. Who would you say has done better? Why shouldn't the advice to the middle class girl be the same? The difference is, she is never going to go into the hairdressing business. After graduating, she might after numerous internships, get a job in a gallery or museum, but she is also quite likely to have her own business. The difference is, her business won't make any money and she will be supported by Daddy or hubby.
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    Comments on here have missed one issue with A-Levels, schools and top unis. Private schools generally only offer the hard subjects that the top unis want to see or very few of the softer subjects.
 
 
 
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