Sunday, August 17, 2014

UK: Private school pupils more likely to be admitted to Oxford

Private school pupils are more likely to be offered a place at Oxford than state school pupils with the same A-level grades, according to figures revealed as pupils across the UK receive their A-level results.

Between 2010 and 2012, private school applicants who had the highest possible grades of three A* grades or more at A-level were 9 per cent more likely to be offered a place at Oxford than state school students with the same grades.

The difference increases to 14 per cent when selective state schools are not included in the comparison, according to The Guardian.

The figures also show that black and minority ethnic applicants were less likely to receive offers than white applicants with the same A-level grades, regardless of their school background. The lowest success rates were seen in minority ethnic applicants from non-selective state schools.

The university said places to Oxford were offered based on a range of factors.

A spokesperson said: "Admission to Oxford is based purely on aptitude and potential for the chosen course, without regard to school type or any other factor. The university puts enormous effort into assessing individual aptitude and potential, using a wide range of means.

"We do not know students' A-level grades when selecting, as they have not yet taken their exams. Aptitude tests, GCSEs and interviews, which are used in our selection process, have not been explored in this analysis."

Three years of data from Oxford showed that 28 per cent of independent school applicants received offers, compared to only 20 per cent of applicants from comprehensive state schools.

In total, 3,196 state school applicants scored three A* grades and above, with 1,474 gaining offers. Meanwhile, 2,175 independent school pupils achieved the same grades but just over half of applicants – 1,098 – were offered places.

Offers to study medicine, PPE (politics, philosophy and economics) and economics and management degree courses did not show a difference between offers to private or state school applicants.

Private school pupils had the highest success rate of being admitted to study Classical studies, the least competitive course with an overall rate of one offer for every three applicants.

The figures support previous analysis by The Telegraph which found similar statistical differences in Oxford admission rates according to applicant’s AS-level grades.


Record number of pupils will go to university with 412,000 places confirmed... as girls outnumber boys

Record numbers of students had their university places confirmed today as it was revealed the gap between the number of girls and boys taking degrees widened.

In total, 412,170 people have now been accepted on to degree courses, up three per cent, according to the admissions service Ucas.

Of those 232,250 are girls and 179,920 are boys - a difference of 52,330 - compared to 46,000 in 2013.

Figures showed that although slightly more boys got an A* in an exam - many more young women got A*, As and Bs in their A-levels overall.

Experts have said it is further proof that young men are being 'let down' by the schools system.

Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of UCAS, told BBC's Newsnight: 'Young women out-perform young men right through the schools system so surely the potential of young men is somehow being let down through that system, and of course we see it in university admissions.

'We want to see more young men coming through the system to balance it out, not least because there's probably a better university experience if there's more of a sex balance on campus.'

She said there was a 'huge imbalance' in the number of men going into teaching, adding she would favour work to attract them into that potential career.

A-level pass rates fell yesterday for the first time in more than three decades following a crackdown on grade inflation and a return to traditional subjects.

The number of pupils scraping at least E grades dipped from a record high of 98.1 per cent after 32 years of relentless rises.

Top A and B grades were also squeezed as former Education Secretary Michael Gove’s measures to restore credibility to the exam system took hold.

Despite the decline, record numbers of teenagers will start degree courses this autumn after universities relaxed entry requirements.

Some colleges are believed to be enrolling pupils who slipped more than one grade.

The number of first-years is expected to top 500,000 for the first time after the Coalition made 30,000 extra university places available

The overall A-level pass rate – those gaining A* to E grades – fell from 98.1 per cent last year to 98 per cent. Although marginal, it marked the first fall in the A-level pass rate since 1982.

The proportion of grades awarded A* and A dipped for the third year running while B grades dropped for the first time.

It follows a shift among A-level pupils to traditional subjects most sought after by universities and employers, such as maths and the sciences. Pupils who may have been stronger in other areas were taking these subjects to boost their chances, driving down results.

At the same time, subjects derided as ‘Mickey Mouse’ courses fell out of favour. The number of pupils taking critical thinking fell nearly 50 per cent, performing arts 8.5 per cent and media studies 2.1 per cent.


Education Expert: Removing Bible, Prayer from Public Schools Has Caused Decline

Education expert William Jeynes said on Wednesday that there is a correlation between the decline of U.S. public schools and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1962 and 1963 decision that school-sponsored Bible reading was unconstitutional.

“One can argue, and some have, that the decision by the Supreme Court – in a series of three decisions back in 1962 and 1963 – to remove Bible and prayer from our public schools, may be the most spiritually significant event in our nation’s history over the course of the last 55 years,” Jeynes said.

On June 25, 1962, the United States Supreme Court decided in Engel v. Vitale that a prayer approved by the New York Board of Regents for use in schools violated the First Amendment because it represented establishment of religion. In 1963, in Abington School District v. Schempp, the court decided against Bible readings in public schools along the same lines.

Since 1963, Jeynes said there have been five negative developments in the nation’s public schools:

• Academic achievement has plummeted, including SAT scores.

• Increased rate of out-of-wedlock births

• Increase in illegal drug use

• Increase in juvenile crime

• Deterioration of school behavior

“So we need to realize that these actions do have consequences,” said Jeynes, professor at California State College in Long Beach and senior fellow at the Witherspoon Institute in Princeton, N.J., “When we remove that moral fiber -- that moral emphasis – this is what can result.”

Other facts included a comparison between the top five complaints of teachers from 1940-1962 -- talking, chewing gum, making noise, running in the halls and getting out of turn in line – to rape, robbery, assault, burglary and arson from 1963 to present.

“Now the question is, given that there is a movement to put the Bible as literature back in the public schools and a moment of silence and so forth, can we recapture the moral fiber – the foundation that used to exist among many of our youth?” Jeynes asked rhetorically.

To that end, Jeynes said, there is a movement across the country to reinstate the Bible as literature in the public schools, with 440 school districts in 43 states currently teaching this type of course.

Ten states have passed a law or resolution to bring the Bible as literature in the public schools statewide.

The movement, however, is secular in nature, with the Bible being taught as literature rather than the word of God. And rather than prayer, a “moment of silence” is established that “can be used as the students choose,” Jeynes said.

When asked about the secular nature of this approach, Jeynes said data from nationwide surveys show that both students of faith and those with no faith both respond positively to the Bible as literature curriculum – the former said they learned more about the Bible in class than in church and the latter said they have an increased interest in the Christian religions.

“The effects are very, very positive,” Jeynes said.

Jeynes said the data he used in his presentation comes from the federal government (Departments of Education, Justice, Health and Human Services and the U.S. Census Bureau), and research by the advocacy groups, the Bible Literacy Project, the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, and California educator and researcher Nader Twal.


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