Middle-class teenagers ‘play the system to get into top universities’

Aug 12, 2018 by

Richer applicants shop around through clearing to detriment of poorer peers, say experts

Middle-class teenagers and their parents are increasingly using university clearing to shop around for the best courses to the detriment of their less well-off peers, education experts have warned ahead of A-level results day next week.

A growing number of applicants are picking and choosing better offers as the Russell Group of leading research universities have significantly increased the number of students they accept through clearing in recent years, according to admissions officers.

But school leavers from disadvantaged backgrounds lack the confidence and parental and school support that enable their more affluent peers to take advantage of the rising importance of clearing, educational charities said.

Sir Peter Lampl, the founder of the Sutton Trust, which works to improve social mobility and tackle educational disadvantage, said: “A lot of well-off parents are on top of this as soon as their kids’ grades come out. They’re talking to universities, they’re getting their kids into the best courses.

“Kids from low to moderate income backgrounds don’t have parents who can play the system and they’re not at schools geared up to getting kids into Russell Group universities. So in that sense, clearing is unfair.”

The warning comes after teaching unions said the overhaul of A-levels and GCSEs has increased pressure on pupils to do well and led to more anxiety and stress. A National Education Union poll, which questioned 656 teachers working in English secondary schools, found 66% believed the assessment methods for the new A-levels are worse for schoolchildren’s mental health than before.

Source: Middle-class teenagers ‘play the system to get into top universities’ | Education | The Guardian

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