Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Privileged Education

Top universities are giving privately educated children an unfair advantage by not differentiating between the rigorous GCSEs compulsory in the state system and less demanding exams taken in many fee-paying schools. Almost all Russell Group universities treat the two types of exam – the regulated GCSEs used in the state system, and IGCSEs, which the government admits do not meet the same high standards – as exact equivalents in admission processes.

Robert Halfon, the Conservative MP who chairs the Commons education select committee, said it was extraordinary that state school pupils were taking harder exams than their private school counterparts, and that these qualifications were then treated as the same by universities. “The priority has to be a level playing field,” Halfon said. “I find it extraordinary that…pupils in private schools, who start with many advantages, are then able to take inferior exams. Everyone should have the chance to climb the education ladder, without unfair advantage to those in private schools.”

Labour MP Lucy Powell,  a former shadow education secretary, “It’s an absolute scandal that it is easier to get top grades in IGCSEs than in the new GCSEs, yet universities essentially class them as the same. State schools do an excellent job – often in difficult circumstances, and now with reduced funding – to help young people get the best GCSE results they can. There’s been a lot of turmoil with the new system, which private schools, by shirking away from the new GCSEs, have shielded their pupils from.”

Peter Hyman, founder of School 21, a state-funded school for children aged four-18 in east London, said: “Private schools already have a lot stacked in their favour. To have a two-tier system in which no account is taken of the fact that one system is harder is obviously wrong.”

No comments: