Cherwell

Teachers discouraging state school applicants

Teachers’ conceptions of Oxbridge are a major obstacle to applications from the state sector, according to a report published by the Sutton Trust last week.The survey, which was based on a MORI poll of 500 secondary school teachers from around the country, revealed that almost a third believe that less than 20% of Oxford entrants come from the state sector, well below the true figure of 54%.The findings were described by Sutton Trust chairman Sir Peter Lampl as “alarming.” “It is clear that much more needs to be done to dispel the myths about Oxbridge and to ensure that young people’s higher education decisions are based on fact, not fiction,” he said.The report also showed that 45% of state-school teachers rarely or never advised their most gifted pupils to consider an Oxbridge application. OUSU’s VP for Access and Academic Affairs, James Lamming, welcomed the report as “highlighting misconceptions we knew were there.”“We need students to go back to their schools and show pupils that ‘people like me’ can go to Oxford.”
Lamming said that renewed efforts were already being made to turn Oxford students into “ambassadors for the University.”A drinks event is being organized by OUSU for students on TeachFirst and PGCE programs to highlight graduates’ role in promoting the University in the state sector. Responding to the findings, Director of Undergraduate admissions Mike Nicholson defended the University’s outreach program.He said, “Activities such as open days and joint regional conferences with Cambridge regularly include teacher-specific slots.“The colleges run teacher-study weeks, a Further Education staff conference and several other teacher-specific events.”Local headteacher Jill Judson, from the Cherwell School on Marston Ferry Road, praised the access work the University carries out.She said, “We do understand how the process works, and that Oxford is no more expensive than other universities.“We appreciate the hard work undertaken by the University’s outreach programs, although not all of the individual colleges work as hard as they could do to cultivate links with the state sector.”by James Stafford