Didn’t think Downside would make the list

Using published figures, among the schools and colleges with the highest number of Oxbridge admissions are:

Westminster School, London (independent) – an average of 70-80 pupils each year have been offered places at Oxford and Cambridge in the last five years, the school says
Eton College, Berkshire (independent) – in 2014, 82 students were accepted to Oxbridge. The following year 68 were accepted
Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge (state sixth form college) – an average 60 pupils receive Oxbridge offers, the school says
St Paul’s School, London (independent) – 53 students went to Oxbridge in 2016 and 41 in 2015
Peter Symonds College, Hampshire (state sixth form college) – an average of 48 students received offers from Oxbridge over the past three years
St Paul’s Girls’ School, London (independent) – an average of 45 students went to Oxbridge each year between 2015 and 2017
King’s College School, London (independent) – sent 48 students to Oxbridge in 2017
Magdalen College School, Oxford (independent) – 44 students went to Oxbridge in 2018

Anti-Catholic bias I call that.

And what a surprise to see that the children of Oxbridge academics get into Oxbridge?

48 comments on “Didn’t think Downside would make the list

  1. And what a surprise to see that the children of Oxbridge academics get into Oxbridge?

    Not really, people who themselves have a record of academic achievement are likely to produce children with similar characteristics and raise them in an environment which values academic achievement.

  2. So, basically, you just have to arrange serious accidents for a bit over 500 school kids & in about 20 years you get your country back. Seems a cheap price to pay.

  3. It’s the same problem as girls and STEM subjects.

    34% of Oxbridge applications are from private school

    Kids from other schools don’t apply, so kids from other schools don’t go.

    And unless you’re going to centrally plan education and introduce quotas forcing kids of your approved groups to take your approved subjects at your approved colleges, market forces are going to apply.

    There’s no evidence either that it’s anti-Catholic bias, rather than, say, Catholic anti-Oxbridge bias. And where does it say anything about the children of Oxbridge academics? I completely missed that bit!

    It looks to me like a lot of conclusions are being jumped to. Could it be that there’s another reason Downside alumni generally don’t get in to Oxbridge…? 😉

  4. The Catholic bit is a j.o.k.e.

    The kiddies of Oxbridge academics. Who do you think goes to the sixth form college in Cambridge, to Magdalen school in Oxford?

  5. It’s a bit of a stretch to assume that Oxford academics send their kids to Magdalen College School. None of my tutors did. The last time I was close to the school at a weekend, the visiting parents all drove the kinds of cars that you tend not to see in college carparks. 17k is quite a large whack of an academic salary

  6. “The Catholic bit is a j.o.k.e.”

    I k.n.o.w. So was the Downside bit of mine.

    “Who do you think goes to the sixth form college in Cambridge, to Magdalen school in Oxford?”

    Mostly, not the children of academics. They’re a pretty small fraction of the population of Cambridge and Oxford.

    Although I do remember that a disproportionate fraction of the teachers there were ex-Oxbridge!

  7. Worth noting that Eton has 1400 pupils, while St Paul’s girls has 740. That is for the whole school. A better measure is the % of students that get in each year. On that basis the two state sixth forms are huge by comparison, the Cambridge one has 2400 pupils just in sixth form while Peter Symonds has 4000. It’s better thought of as central Hampshire 6th form. Some interesting gaming going on incidentally, son and heir just left WInchester (where 1/3rd ‘get in’) but knows a lot of kids from Peter Symonds whose parents send them there because they then have more chance of getting in as ‘state school kids’.

  8. So the Sutton Trust gets its knickers in a twist over big state schools that send a lot of kids to Oxbridge. Yawn.

    @MarkT: There is also the slight difference of £35,000 a year in school fees between Winchester and Peter Symonds. Also Winchester send 25% to Oxbridge while Peter Symonds sends 2%.

  9. “Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge”: some years ago I saw an interview with the then Head, glorying in the number of his pupils who would be going off to Oxbridge. Blow me down; the journo asked a good question. “How many of these children attended private schools before they joined your Sixth Form?”

    The bugger prevaricated.

  10. Must have been some kind of mistake Tim. I’m sure the Downside paperwork just slipped down the back of the sofa or something.

  11. ““How many of these children attended private schools before they joined your Sixth Form?” The bugger prevaricated.”

    Probably didn’t know – that sort of thing was never a big deal there.

    But the answer is about 20%.

  12. “Probably didn’t know”: there’s not a cat’s chance that he didn’t know which schools his Oxbridge successes had attended before they moved to his. It’s only sixtyish pupils, for heaven’s sake. They won’t all have come from Comberton Village College, but if they had he’d have known.

    Either that or he was unlike every headmaster I’ve ever met. I once met one who knew which primary schools his stars had attended.

  13. “there’s not a cat’s chance that he didn’t know which schools his Oxbridge successes had attended before they moved to his. It’s only sixtyish pupils, for heaven’s sake.”

    Why? Their big thing was how great *they* were – not how good their feeder schools were. Why would they be interested in sharing the credit?!

    They got about a thousand students a year from about 20 different local feeder schools. Nobody paid any attention to where anyone was from. The main reasons for their success was that half the staff were Cambridge University ex-lecturers and wannabe’s, and that Cambridge has two sixth form colleges: Hill’s Road and Long Road. All the brightest kids fought to get into Hill’s Road.

    Their primary point of pride was the high pass rate. Having fairly close ties to the University, they tended to take Oxbridge entrance fairly casually, which is probably why the numbers are so high. Most other places know only the reputation, and kids don’t even bother applying unless their results are spectacular. At Hill’s Road, their attitude was that you could go there if you wanted to, it wasn’t any big deal, which is probably why a lot more apply. They are a very good college, and I’m sure they were quite pleased with the publicity when the newspaper articles came along, but I doubt that it’s truly about their academic brilliance. It’s just that they happen to be in Cambridge, and a lot of kids like to go to Uni close to home, somewhere they know their way around, and where mum can do the washing at the weekends.

  14. You didn’t mention the impact of scholarships. It’s worth mentioning because it means some of the brightest poor kids go to public school. There was one boy a year above me whose mother was a War Widow (and allegedly paid £4 a year in fees) who got a State Scholarship to Cambridge*; as I keep saying, none of the boys in my year who went to Oxford paid full fees.
    Less than 1% of each year group go to Oxbridge, so if the brightest poor kids who get scholarships to public were 0.8% of the population you wouldn’t expect *any* state school kids to go to Oxbridge. Nowadays most boys who get scholarships are from middle-class backgrounds, just as most basket-ball players have tall parents, but the filter of bright working-class kids into the Public Schools is a significant factor.
    * Combination of being very bright and *very* hard-working: I bought his ‘A’ level Physics notes for £5 and they got me through Physics ‘A’ level without ever being taught the ‘A’ level course (I had done the ‘O’ level and ‘S’ level courses but missed out the ‘A’ level one).

  15. “Why would they be interested in sharing the credit?!” That was the point of the anecdote – he didn’t want to share any credit. But of course he’d have known. Either that or he was remarkably incurious about his star pupils.

  16. “Either that or he was remarkably incurious about his star pupils.”

    What makes you think they were his star pupils?

  17. dearieme: “you get your country back”: fuck off, it’s my country too. I even live here.

    Hard not to agree with this reaction to a silly and offensive remark.

  18. Pcar, the Pointless graph is already doing its masters’bidding by portraying it as not an event for decent people.

  19. Oddly one of the two State schools in the list (and the one that isn’t in Cambridge itself), Peter Symonds College, has a boarding departments for children from the Falkland Islands (and also Army children).

    Would be interesting to know whether it’s those that get them into the list.

  20. There’s no anti-Catholic bias. I went to a very good Catholic school. It was rated as “very good” due to our lack of Protestant work ethic.

  21. There’s a truth there. Emma Rees Mogg and Tom Rees Mogg were both at Downside with me. Jacob went to Eton as the special one.

  22. john 77-yup- the filtering done on potential that Owen is so tumescent about is done by Eton and all the top public schools. Someone interested in a true bias in the system would want to as a minimum divide the numbers of Oxbridge acceptances into scholarship holders and full fee payers.

  23. Owen should be careful what he wishes for.

    Removing private education will simply bring variances between state schools into sharper relief.

    Though I suppose there will be opportunities for virtue-whining there as well.

  24. @TMB
    It was meant to be fucking offensive. I regard the Oxbridge universities as prime candidates for carpet bombing. The baleful influence of their alumni have been all to recognisably present in steering a once great nation into the plight you find it now.
    In evidence I would offer that both May & that arch weasel Olly Robbins were both at Oxford.

  25. One can never be both offensive & silly. If you’re finding it offensive it’s hit its mark.

  26. Hallowed Be,

    Every bit of data suggests to me that private schooling makes little difference. They screen out the thickies, they screen in the gifted and the kids of lazy chavs don’t get to go. The net measurable result is that it makes almost no difference to salaries. A couple of grand a year, at best.

    Ironically, it’s the lefties who make the case for them more than anyone else because they believe in the blank slate, that it’s all about external forces.

  27. “What makes you think they were his star pupils?”

    Because they were the ones he was boasting about in the newspaper.

  28. “Because they were the ones he was boasting about in the newspaper.”

    They were the ones the newspaper was writing the story about, and had come to him and asked about. Of course he was going to talk about them. Doesn’t say anything about them being ‘star pupils’.

    But whatever. It’s no big deal.

  29. Bloke on M4- The one i saw in the past mentioned a few % points on the average grade achievement, but i thought that didn’t reveal too much because it can’t be assumed that will translate pro rata in any given field. Could it be they then hopped to average grade achievement salaries, which ain’t quite the same as the full gamut of private education versus state.
    But most of all I mean we’re all fairly similar to each other but the marginal differences can be highly significicant in certain employment markets. Two ways it can happen – the percent doesn’t make much difference to the job, but if it gets you selected in the first place it can have a big effect. Or it actually makes a difference over the medium to long term to the job.

  30. Hallowed Be,

    “The one i saw in the past mentioned a few % points on the average grade achievement, but i thought that didn’t reveal too much because it can’t be assumed that will translate pro rata in any given field. Could it be they then hopped to average grade achievement salaries, which ain’t quite the same as the full gamut of private education versus state.”

    The study took average earnings and compared them to average of earnings of kids from similar backgrounds. Not grades, just salaries as an average. And the result was a £3600/annum benefit over 16 years. The study also didn’t discount the effect of admissions exams keeping out the thickies, or scholarships bringing in bright kids.

    I don’t know why people would think they’d be that much different. The schools are, in a roundabout way, run by OFSTED with a similar sort of curriculum and rules and you get similar sorts of teachers. OK, you get a better ratio but that doesn’t make that much difference. You’d be better off spending money on a tutor to either help them improve on a failing subject or to stretch someone beyond the school’s capacity.

  31. Oddly one of the two State schools in the list (and the one that isn’t in Cambridge itself), Peter Symonds College, has a boarding departments for children from the Falkland Islands (and also Army children).

    Would be interesting to know whether it’s those that get them into the list.

    When I was there it wasn’t particularly significant, though probably worth noting they also take other foreign students as well which probably do skew the numbers.

    One big advantage that Peter Symonds has is economies of scale – because they have so many people applying to Oxbridge then they can put in the provision to help with applications and do interview practice which of course helps boost the number who succeed.

    Being a large dedicated 6th form college means the teachers are specialists (unlike many school based 6th forms) and the brighter children will travel from a large area of Hampshire to attend. Then again as a percentage the numbers are still pretty small as it is a large 6th form college taking all abilities.

  32. @ Bloke on M4
    At Public School you don’t autonatically qualifying for being bullied just because you’re clever and you don’t normally get persecuted for being cleverer than the teacher.

  33. “because they have so many people applying to Oxbridge then they can put in the provision to help with applications and do interview practice which of course helps boost the number who succeed.”

    I never know how important these things are. We knew a clever youngster who wanted to apply to Oxford; her private school gave her no help.

    She applied anyway, and did pretty well there in the end: prizes, Union committee, sports, and all that. Rather surprising, I thought; schoolteachers are often very perceptive about the abilities of their pupils.

  34. “I never know how important these things are.”

    I don’t think they are. Oxbridge are just universities, like any other. They’re better funded than most, and their reputation and facilities attract a lot of the top researchers, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to extraordinarily good teaching. (Don’t get me wrong. They’re good. But they’re not magic.) I think the only genuine thing it offers that other universities don’t is an especially well-connected old boys network. Whether that’s a particularly useful thing depends on whether you’re planning on a technical career or a political/managerial one.

    The primary requirement for getting in is that you have to apply. Too many people believe the advertising, assume they’re not good enough, and don’t even attempt it. I’ve heard it said that the most important thing public schools teach is self-confidence. They teach the kids to believe they’re the elite, just because they went to an elite school, despite there being a massive overlap in ability and results with many other schools.

    I expect Oxbridge are nowhere near as fussy or elitist as people assume, and would cheerfully accept kids from a far wider range of backgrounds, most of who would thrive there, except they generally don’t apply.

    I expect the Cambridge and the Oxford sixth forms are in the list simply because they’re local. It rubs a lot of the shine off the advertising, and a lot of kids like to go somewhere close to home. The private ones, I expect are there mainly because they’re given the self-confidence to apply. But frankly it’s no big deal. I’d recommend paying far more attention to exam results and teaching/facilities than stuff like Oxbridge’s reputation (unless as I said you aim for a political career), and I don’t see it as any discredit to other schools that they don’t send so many there.

    It’s amusing, though, to watch all the posturing and backbiting about it. 🙂

  35. BiS: One can never be both offensive & silly.

    I see your journey of self discovery has yet to run its course.

  36. @john 77, December 10, 2018 at 4:03 pm

    Likewise, at Grammar School you don’t automatically qualify for being bullied just because you’re clever and you don’t normally get persecuted for being cleverer than the teacher.

    Though you may receive some ribbing for not being good enough in a subject/sport.

    I was at Grammar School in NI. Parents moved to Scotland and Headmaster at local comp told them “Send him to a public school, he’ll be bullied and not achieve here” and that Comp was in a middle class area of city.

    There are a lot of large Public Schools (~9,500 pupils) in this city – pop ~450,000 [+three “real” Unis – one Russell Group]

  37. @John 77

    I know, it’s disgraceful and political ideology cruelty to children.

    Peter Hitchens: Vital school lesson that we refuse to learn

    Once again The Sutton Trust does excellent research on the terrible state of our schools. Once again, driven by ideology, it misses the point.

    The revelation that eight expensive private schools together scored as many Oxbridge places as 2,894 state schools will delight Left-wing fanatics, who will pretend it’s the result of Oxbridge snobbery.

    In fact, the two great universities strive very hard to encourage applicants from poor backgrounds. But atrocious, disorderly state secondaries don’t teach them well enough, and too many of their teachers, in the grip of inverted snobbery, sulkily refuse to encourage children to apply for top colleges.

    That’s only the half of it. The Sutton figures, read carefully, show that academically selective state grammar schools come close to matching the vastly expensive public schools in gaining Oxbridge places.

    Alas, there are hardly any of them. In the days when we had a national network of state grammar schools, 64.6 per cent of their pupils came from working class homes, according to the Gurney-Dixon report of 1954.

    And most survived into the sixth form, in those pre-expansion days the equivalent of university. The Crowther Report of 1959 found more than 40 per cent of sixth-formers at grammar schools were working class. What ‘outstanding’ comprehensive or academy can say that today?

    By 1964, these bright boys and girls from working class homes were storming Oxford and Cambridge, beating the expensive private schools without any special help or concessions. Then that stopped, when all but a tiny rump of grammars were smashed up in the egalitarian lunacy of the 1960s.

    Watching ‘experts’ and politicians discussing education is like being in a nightmare.

    In that awful dream, I have to watch, powerless, while a surgeon kills a patient because he refuses to use the only procedure which could have saved him.

    Well said Mr Hitchens.

    Left ideology is always at war with nature, evolution and natural behaviour & ability.

    From Wolves & Orcas to Bees, each in group has skills & roles, all are not equal. Humans are the same – JRM is good at debating, but I doubt he can replace a burnt valve in a DOHC engine or even change Timing Belt.

    .
    Global Warming – Do as I say, not as I do: 22,000+ Fly to Poland for COP 24

    Catherine “Climate Barbie” Mckenna brings bloated global warming delegation to Poland

  38. @ NiV
    You are displaying ignorance. Oxbridge are not like “any other university”. One-to-one tutorials are extremely rare outside Oxbridge.
    Apart from you getting everything upside-down – Oxford is the original and *some* other universities try to be like it, others don’t even try. At Oxford, someone cares about the performance (or lack of it) of every single undergraduate. If you don’t understand something he/she will explain it, sometimes from three or four different approaches; if you miss lectures because you are sick, someone will notice; if you have selected the wrong course, he will try to reassign you to one more suited (one of the scholars in my year got a poor second in Moderations and our tutor arranged for him to switch to Physics, where again he found it difficult and then arranged him to switch to PPE for his third year, at which he got a degree after one year’s study (I did mention that he was a Scholar so fairly bright!).
    Oxbridge doesn’t just get the best researchers, they also attract better teachers/lecturers and are able to pick and choose whom they hire.
    “I expect Oxbridge are nowhere near as fussy or elitist as people assume, and would cheerfully accept kids from a far wider range of backgrounds, most of who would thrive there, except they generally don’t apply.”
    Not only do they cheerfully accept – they actively seek out bright kids from disasdvantaged backgrounds and my old college grants bursaries (funded by the annual appeal to alumni and income from its endowment) to top up any aid from state grants so that poor undergraduates are 100% funded.

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