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Elite recruits go private

Oxbridge graduate teachers are more likely to end up working in independent schools. Adi Bloom reports on new research.

More than half the teachers who graduated from Oxford or Cambridge are working in the independent sector, new research has revealed.

The study, published by the Sutton Trust charity, found independent schools, which educate 7 per cent of the country's pupils, are seven times more likely to be staffed by Oxbridge graduates than state schools. The private sector is also three times more likely than the state sector to recruit graduates from other leading universities.

"Of every 100 Oxbridge graduates in teaching, 54 are to be found in independent schools, nine in grammars, 37 in comprehensives and none in secondary moderns," the study reported.

The report found that in general, of every 100 teachers, 13 will be employed in independent schools, four in grammar schools, 79 in comprehensives and four in secondary moderns. Researchers from Liverpool University questioned nearly 1,900 teachers for the report, covering 465 schools in the maintained sector and 267 in the independent sector.

Peter Lampl, chair of the Sutton Trust which promotes wider access to higher education, believes that these results merely reflect the national average: at leading private schools, the disparity will be even greater.

"Students in state schools are being short-changed by not having access to the most highly-qualified teachers," he said.

"These findings also explain to a large measure why students from state schools are under-represented at Oxbridge and other leading universities. They support the need for summer schools, admission officers and other activities."

Such activities include access schemes, which encourage comprehensive pupils to apply to leading universities, and an extension of the number of scholarship places at independent schools.

In addition, the study also demonstrated that almost 62 per cent of private school teachers hold first or 2:1 degrees, compared with 45 per cent in state schools. Teachers in independent schools are also five times more likely to have gained a PhD.

Unlike their state-school peers, teachers in independent schools usually hold a degree in the subject they are teaching. Seventy-nine per cent of physics teachers in the private sector hold a degree in their chosen subject, compared with 32 per cent in the state sector.

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