Independents 'provide mobility not privilege'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Independent schools promote social mobility, not privilege, a new survey suggests.

Independent schools promote social mobility, not privilege, a new survey suggests.

A survey of 8,500 sixth formers in 200 schools shows one- third come from families where neither parent is a university graduate, and almost half from families where neither parent went to a fee-paying school.

Independent school leaders are using the survey, commissioned by the Independent Schools Information Service (Isis) in a conflict over university admissions. They have sent the figures to the Commons Education Select Committee, which is investigating why so few pupils from working-class homes go to university.

Their inquiry was set up after the case of Laura Spence, the Tyneside state school sixth former who won a place at Harvard after she was turned down by Oxford to study another subject.

Ian Beer, chairman of the Independent Schools Council, said: "During the debate which followed the Laura Spence affair, the almost unchallenged assumption seemed to be that all independent school entrants to university are privileged by comparison with their state school counterparts. This survey makes it clear that the real picture is much more complex."

But Professor Alan Smithers, of Liverpool University's centre for education and employment research, said: "It is easy to overestimate ease of access to independent schools. The great majority of parents pay huge fees. The schools offer scholarships to bright boys from poor homes to maintain their pre-eminence in the league tables."

Comments