Low offers for state pupils is looking 'from wrong end'

4th March 2011 at 00:00

Asking universities to make lower offers to pupils from state schools is like asking an engineer to improve an aeroplane "after it has already crashed", an independent school leader said this week.

Philip Cottam, chairman of the Society of Headmasters and Headmistresses of Independent Schools, and headmaster of Halliford School in Shepperton, said the number of poorer children failing to fulfil their potential was a "blot" on the educational landscape.

Mr Cottam told heads at the society's conference in Telford, Shropshire, it would be unfair if university admissions tutors discriminated against private school pupils using a "mechanistic template."

While not advocating a return to grammar schools, he said learning from their successes could provide part of the solution.

He said: "Trying to force universities to repair, let alone make up for, the problems of 18 years of upbringing and education is certainly not the answer. It is approaching the issue from the wrong end and is like asking an aeronautical engineer to improve the design of an aircraft after the plane has already crashed."

Mr Cottam welcomed the introduction of the new university technical colleges to increase the quality of vocational education.

"It is essential we close the gap that has existed for too long between the quality of our vocational education and that available in Germany," he said.

"Without that, vocational education will never acquire the esteem that it currently lacks, and we will continue to do many of our young people a disservice, to the detriment of our success as a nation."

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now