Selective school does good job

London state school secures 41 Oxbridge offers

We can write Polly’s article for her now, can’t we?

The point though being:

The sixth form, which is oversubscribed, annually accepts 300 students, who are interviewed before being offered a place.

Selective school has good results.


We are equal opportunity snarkists around here

There are many plans for making the world better. Some of them stemming even from lived experience of the real world.

Maybe we should go back to the good old days with less than 5% of the cohort going to university. But I’m not a reactionary, oh no. I wouldn’t insist on Latin for admission. I would insist on a decent standard in maths though, and at least one modern language that is not the applicant’s mother tongue.

A spot of science too? One argument would say “settle for physics”. Another argument would say that a bright boy – or girl – could teach himself much of physics from books, but to learn some chemistry you really need to do some lab, therefore demand chemistry for admissions. A finely-balanced argument I’d say. Views sought on biology.

That one might betray, ever such a tad, some of that experience. Say, the lived wisdom of having taught chemistry at a very selective university which used to demand Latin as an entry requirement?

I wouldn’t want to say myself….

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?

For Owen Jones – Any And Every Target Will Be Manipulated

Bless the cute cotton socks of the dear little boy. He’s still not grasped why that idea of a planned economy won’t work:

The educational segregation of children according to the bank balances of their parents – private education – needs to be abolished. But in the interim, it has always struck me that the only solution is to automatically enrol the best performing students from state school, taking class into account. If you grow up in a deprived ex-mining community and get two As and two Bs at A-level, you have outperformed someone at Harrow or Eton from a family of millionaires who gets four As. And until Oxbridge does this, it needs to stop pretending it represents Britain’s academic elite: because it doesn’t.

You’ve not got firm targets, written in stone. Within milliseconds they will be gamed. As with even the current reports that some are taken out of nice and private schools to be finished off at sixth form colleges so as to gain those deprivation points for their Oxbridge entry. Not that it woks all that well given the discretion the interviewers have these days…..but take away the discretion and it would.

It doesn’t matter what the system is

Universities should consider changing the system of traditional degree classifications in order to ease mental pressure on students, psychologists have suggested.

The expectation to achieve at least a 2.1 is driving up anxiety levels and deprives most students of the opportunity to differentiate their achievement from those of their peers, according to preliminary research.

Psychologists at King’s College London said the American system of degree transcripts may be less stressful for undergraduates because it provides a more personal and nuanced account of how a student performed.

Dr Nicola Byrom, who has conducted consultations with students, said there was a “particular issue” with the ubiquity of 2.1s.

“The way our UK grading system at universities is structured does potentially create stress,” she said “Most people get a 2.1, therefore getting a 2.2 is seen by the majority of students as absolutely terrible and yet that’s a fantastic achievement for many students.

“And there’s a huge pressure on students to feel they have to get a first otherwise they’ve just got a 2.1.”

Only that we all understand what the system is.

Bit conservative, isn’t it?

Children are less inquisitive and ask fewer questions because their minds have been dulled by iPads before they even enter primary school, according to the head of Britain’s biggest head teachers’ association.

Andrew Mellor, the president of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said children were coming into school as passive rather than active learners because parents were using iPads as “soothers” to keep them quiet.

The surrounding world and technology have changed. People now absorb and access information in different ways.

But the teachers are insisting we must all use the old ways? How Tory!

What excellent news

Some universities may be pushed to the brink of insolvency after the most cut-throat A-level student recruitment round vice-chancellors can remember, experts are warning.

This is one of the things markets do for us. Push shite suppliers out of he market through bankruptcy.

Because all university admissions staff are idiots, right?

Following last week’s GCSE results, it should surely be of concern to policy makers that almost all the schools announcing record scores are independent schools that in fact entered hardly any of their pupils for GCSEs. Instead, those schools stuck with international GCSEs, many of which still include the discredited coursework and are entirely unregulated by the standards watchdog, Ofqual.

I hope universities will take care to discriminate carefully in two years’ time between pupils who sat the new tough GCSEs — including youngsters in every state school — and those who did not.
Richard Cairns, Headmaster, Brighton College

Crass idiocy

The inescapable weight of my $100,000 student debt

MH Miller left university with a journal full of musings on Virginia Woolf and a vast financial burden. He is one of 44 million US graduates struggling to repay a total of $1.4tn. Were they right to believe their education was ‘priceless’?


I’m really pretty certain that both $100,000 and $1.4 trillion are prices.

In the summer of 2010, I completed my studies at New York University, where I received a BA and an MA in English literature, with more than $100,000 of debt,

In May, I got a freelance contract with a newspaper that within a year would hire me full-time – paying me, after taxes, roughly $900 every two weeks. ….. the payments for my debt – which had been borrowed from a variety of federal and private lenders, most prominently Citibank – totalled about $1,100 a month.

Might not be a price you like. But it’s a price.

Great big hairy dangly bits

GCSE reforms will help boys catch up with girls because they prefer “big bang” exams, annual analysis has suggested.

A report by Professor Alan Smithers of the University of Buckingham suggested that the move away from coursework and towards exams will benefit male students.


You’ve changed the measurement system, not how well boys and or girls are doing.

Agreed with the effect of the change, sure. That concentration on coursework in the first place was because boys did better at the big bang exam, girls better at the coursework. So, to overcome that issue of the girls getting worse grades the system was changed. Now we’re changing it back.

OK. But it’s still just a change in the measurement system, not a change in how anyone is doing.

Does this mean what I think it does?

That’s without considering the impact of disadvantage on pupils who find learning harder

Thick kids are disadvantaged because they find learning harder?

She also thinks we’re thick as mince:

Conservative 2017 manifesto to force independent schools to sponsor a state school or risk losing their tax breaks (she later quietly dropped it). These are not insignificant sums. Between 2017-22, private schools will get tax rebates totalling £522m as a result of their status as charities.

£100 million a year in tax breaks. The education budget is some £90 billion. Yes, b. It’s not even a rounding error, is it?

The private schools also save the state the cost of educating 7% of children. At a very rough guess that’s a saving of £6 billion a year, isn’t it?

But then we all do think that Frances Ryan is thick as mince, don’t we?

Fairly silly

Maths textbooks should be banned because they intimidate pupils, a leading girls’ school headmistress has said.

Jane Prescott, head of Portsmouth High School said that students risk becoming anxious if they can see that their classmates are “galloping ahead” of them.

The move has been a “confidence booster” for girls, and allows them to “feel encouraged, and feel they are good at Maths”, Ms Prescott said.

That’s rather the comprehensive ideal run riot isn’t it?

Mustn’t let those who grasp the subject run ahead now, must we?

Isn’t that exotic

A teacher at one of the country’s leading boys’ schools has been charged with trying to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex.

Dr Ken Zetie, who taught at St Paul’s School for 17 years, is accused of attempting to arrange the liaison as part of an undercover police sting.

Wouldn’t working at a girls’ school have aided the quest?

Fairly specialist porn perhaps?

Possibly Rocco could weigh in with the professional discussion?

A transgender teaching assistant forced to quit her job after appearing in pornography could be thrown out of the profession by a tribunal.

I refuse to believe that “teaching assistant” is a profession. Other than that:

She said she had been ‘celebrating my femininity’ and declared: ‘As a feminist woman I am deeply opposed to pornography. Erotic imagery celebrates the beauty of the human body. I posed for erotic and not explicit images.’

Spouting the usual fashionable scrotals there. However:

Dr Williams, who previously worked at Llandrillo College at Rhos on Sea in North Wales, is accused of posing for 16 indecent or pornographic pictures intended for publication in an adult magazine.

Pornography is legal, indecency in a porno mag is quite obviously legal – the definition there of what is indecent enough to be illegal is pretty extreme – being trans is legal and thus all appears to be legal here.

At which point the prodnoses can get back into their boxes, can’t they?

Anyway, it all sounds rather educational. And aren’t today’s children supposed to be learning about the varied glories of human sexuality?

No, she’s still a student

Moreover, when education becomes something we can buy, return and refund, universities become less accountable.


Micha Frazer-Carroll is the welfare and rights officer at Cambridge University Students’ Union

No, no, it’s OK. She’s a student, we know that she’s ignorant and not yet educated, that’s why she’s a student, right?

This is going to cause ructions, isn’t it?

Schools with 20 per cent or more of pupils from poor backgrounds see lower attainment for all children, a global study has found.

Research by Lancaster University found that attainment for all pupils in a UK school falls if as few as one in five students are classed as disadvantaged.

The study, which compared educational attainment across nine countries, concluded that pupils in the UK are more affected by the social background they come from than any other factor.

Researchers said the figures showed that the “tipping point” at which a school became a “sink school” which holds its pupils back was based on “quite a low proportion of disadvantaged students going to that school”.

“As soon as you’ve got a lot of disadvantaged students in a school, that is going to cause a drop-off in the performance of a randomly picked student from that schools,” said Geraint Johnes, a professor of economics at Lancaster University Management School, and co-author of the study, published in the European Journal of Operational Research.

Letting the chavs in degrades outcomes for everyone.

What’s really going to be amusing is watching them sorting out what the party line should be on this? Do we insist upon chavs in every school so all are equal? I’m sure someone will use that argument. But what is going to emerge as that party line interpretation of this research?

So where are the cries of academic freedom?

A senior academic is being investigated by University College London after he was found to have hosted an annual conference in which speakers debated ideas on eugenics and intelligence.

Since 2015, Dr James Thompson has overseen the London Conference on Intelligence, which has seen a researcher who has previously advocated child rape online speak on campus on three occasions.

The university was last night attempting to establish how the honorary lecturer was able to host the event without informing senior officials, who were unaware of which speakers would be attending.

Dr Thompson, a member of the university’s psychology department, has now been blocked from hosting any future events while an investigation is carried out.

It came as details about the conference emerged yesterday, revealing that papers presented at the event include research on the alleged links between genetics and racial disparities in intelligence.

It’s amusing, no, that when eugenics was a standard left wing belief universities could and did discuss it not just with impunity but approval. Now that exactly the same beliefs are now seen as somehow right wing they are to be drummed off campus.