The issue of fair entry to Oxbridge has again flared up. The headmaster of one of our leading independent schools – Anthony Wallersteiner of Stowe – told The Times that parents had complained that state-school students were now unfairly favoured
I wanted to take this chance to say two things about Oxbridge and independent schools.
Firstly, that I think Mr Wallersteiner and his parents are wrong. We see every year the lengths that colleges go to in fairly assessing students’ potential (that is a key word). Here they are weighing up students from across the globe, as well as from the state and independent sectors.
Competition is fierce. For instance, a Linacre student from an ex-mining part of Rotherham – who got A*s in A levels several years early – was turned down. But many independents do a first-class job here: our friends at the independent Westminster School achieve stunning success in Oxbridge admissions every year. Other independent headteachers say – without complaint – that their more marginal applicants are not now winning places. That is the same for everyone.
Secondly, I wanted to dispel any idea that the whole independent sector holds this kind of view. Our friends at Westminster have – for six years now – been hugely supportive of our work. They provide accommodation, meals and classrooms in one of the world’s most stunning locations. And their teaching staff have summoned the energy at the end of a gruelling year to teach our students for an extra week. The teachers’ commitment has been steadfast and their ability extraordinary to witness. Their pupils are very lucky indeed to have them – as are we.