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Dreaming spires and extreme reactions

The Sutton Trust's report on progression to "top" universities leads to a tabulated reference to five "elite" institutions that are particularly efficient at sending students to Oxbridge. Four are independent schools. The other is a sixth-form college in Cambridgeshire.

This college does not encounter its students until after they have taken their GCSEs, and recruits mainly from local 11-16 comprehensive schools. So much for the belief, still held by some, that the only way for a student to achieve excellence is to be selected into a grammar school at the age of 11.

To reinforce the absurdity of such a belief, perhaps someone could provide a comparison between the total number of students accepted at Oxbridge from the 34 grammar schools in Kent or the 15 in Lincolnshire and the number from the highest performing, on this criterion, sixth-form college in Hampshire.

Sir Peter Newsam, Former chief schools adjudicator, Pickering, North Yorkshire.

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