James Handscombe

How to get disadvantaged pupils into Oxbridge

If we want to get more disadvantaged young people into Oxbridge, schools need to focus on equipping students with the qualities that these elite universities demand – such as a thirst for knowledge and a desire to challenge opinion, writes James Handscombe

The way to get more disadvantaged students into oxbridge is to equip them with the skills that universities want, says James Handscombe

The figures are stark: if you go to a private school to take your A levels, you have about a one-in-17 chance of going on to Oxford or Cambridge (2,800 students out of a cohort of about 48,000); if you go to a state school, it’s one in 60 (4,200 from 252,000); and if you’re on free school meals, it’s only one in 900 (just 50 students out of 45,000).

It seems perverse to argue either that these figures are the result of genetic differences in academic potential or, given the considerable energy expended by the universities to remedy them, that they spring entirely from the biases of the ...

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