You seem to like the word prejudice and use it a lot but it really is not that relevant here. We might be discussing prejudice in its simplest sense but to then try and use an accusation of prejudice and all the negative connotations which follow its commonly understood meaning is inaccurate. Positive discrimination is what we are discussing here and it should be discussed as such rather than attempting to mudsling my argument by calling it prejudiced.
Positive discrimination in what sense? Letting in stupid people because they're poor? Because if you're speaking about letting in less knowledgeable students because they've had fewer opportunities but have more potential, it already happens (and rightly so!).
It might be an old debate but it is still of relevance. This is proved by the fact that state school educated students, particularly those from the most deprived backgrounds are grossly underpresented at Oxford. It remains an important debate until the imbalance is rectified. As for tutors taking background into account, I did not deny this, but instead stated that more attention needs to be paid to educational background than is currently done. I'm well aware that tutors try their best to pick the best but background needs to weigh more strongly on the admissions tutor's mind than it currently does. As the current system isn't working then perhaps this needs to be done at a more central level using something along the lines of targets or quotas. It might seem unfair against the individual private school student but viewed against a state school applicant it would help to negate the effect a privileged education has on a applicant to a top university.
The imbalance of which you speak is due to a lack of applications. Every effort is being made to redress this, but at the end of the day if someone doesn't want to come to Oxford, it's their right to make that choice. It is not significantly due to with differing success rate for application - IIRC, the independent educated are only about 17% more successful in this regard, as is to be expected given the far more extensive and rigorous academic selection they undergo before applying.
I'm sure there are many bright people at public schools but there are also many bright students who can't afford the fees. I think the general tendancy is that state educated pupils on average go on to do better in their final degree classification. Although I haven't looked for the statistical evidence for this.
Well this is just prejudice speaking. Not only have you no evidence to back it up, you haven't even looked! I said earlier we need some concrete research on this issue (someone did hazily quote some incomplete results, but these weren't massively useful).
I'm sorry, I'd like to pretend I understood that last rant but I didn't. Maybe I'm in the 56%.
Don't want to drift off topic here, but what I said was very simple. The problem with the current school system (of which A-level are the most famous, but far from dominant, part) is that it doesn't give people the skills they need to be successful in life. Illiteracy, I read the other day, is worse than before the first world war!! The people who will really suffer from this are the least priviliged - if the state doesn't teach them to read or write properly, it's far more difficult for them to do anything about it. Hence Toynbee's supposed championing of the working class is entirely counter-productive. It's nothing to do with A-levels no longer serving Oxbridge's needs. That is true, but, frankly, I think it's a good thing (a point on which you, Toynbee and I seem to agree. Huzzah!).