Let’s make all students aware of their potential to shine bright

Top universities are often attacked for being elitist and out of touch. But, asks Oxford graduate and teacher Sammy Wright, could schools be doing more to help students reach these august institutions?

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"There were more people to go to Oxford from Serbia last year than from Sunderland."

We were meeting with representatives from Oxford’s outreach programme, OxNet. It was the third year of my time as director of sixth form at Southmoor Academy in Sunderland – and it was this comment that brought home the scale of the problem.

It wasn’t news to me that there was a contrast between Tyne and Wear and the Thames Valley. I’d found that out for myself. Seventeen years ago, after graduating from Oxford with a degree in English Literature, I’d plunged into teaching, first in Oxfordshire and then in ...

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