Head of Ucas says private school pupils are 'sleepwalking' through same education experience as their parents

Chief executive adds how private schools need to encourage their students to be 'independent-minded and to develop a sense of future self'

Aftab Ali
Student Editor
Thursday 08 October 2015 14:07
Comments

Children at private schools are sleepwalking their way through education and having an "identikit" experience as their parents, which leaves them unprepared for the real world.

The head of Ucas has spoken out about her concern regarding private schools, saying pupils are ‘sleepwalking’ through the same ‘identikit education experience’ as their parents before them, leaving them unprepared for jobs in a new economy.

Mary Curnock Cook, the chief executive of the university admissions service, said only 13 per cent of privately educated university entrants studied ‘new economy subjects’ – such as biotechnology, robotics, artificial intelligence, cinematics, and creative art and design – compared with 26 per cent of state school students.

Speaking to delegates at the annual gathering of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference of leading independent school headteachers in St Andrews, she added private schools had been ‘a little bit slow on the uptake’ when encouraging students to study such subjects.

“It seems to me that not only are your students going to the same universities that their parents went to, but they are also studying the same subjects,” she said.

Expressing unease, she went on to add: “So I worry about a little sub-section of society which is sleepwalking through an identikit education experience into an off-the-peg life which mirrors what generations of the affluent classes have aspired to.”

Making reference to a recent report she has seen from an independent school head, Ms Curnock Cook said: “Your students and their parents often seem to think the only jobs worth shooting for are medicine, law, financial services, and the media.”

With privately educated pupils heading to ‘the same old universities’ to study ‘these predictable course choices’ – including, history, economics, English and geography –the head of Ucas told the delegates such courses ‘are not always the right choices for all of your pupils’.

She urged the crowd: “Maybe some of them should give serious thought to choosing to study something different somewhere else.”

The reason why, she explained, is because big City firms are finding it a challenge to select candidates for jobs from a narrow pool background, resulting in them ‘impeding their ability to be effective’.

Instead of worrying about social engineering, she told the conference: “Perhaps, independent schools should think about encouraging their students to be independent-minded and to develop a sense of future self that just breaks the mould a bit.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in