Sunday, January 13, 2008


This report from Friday's Guardian is a bit depressing. Another piece of important work from the Sutton Trust points out the misconceptions common among state-sector teachers about Oxbridge applications and the success rate of state-schooled applicants. (See the brief report of the Trust's own site here.) Many of the teachers surveyed, for example, falsely believe that it is more expensive to study at Oxbridge than at other universities. The danger is that this leads to them discouraging students from applying.

This all sounds quite familiar. My wife and I both came to Cambridge from good comprehensive schools. We both benefited, in particular, from enthusiastic and inspiring help from one or two particular teachers. It's quite possible that without that fortune I would not have considered applying.

So what should we do? It seems to me that it shows the importance of the university targeting outreach work not only to students but also to teachers. After all, if we can get a teacher interested and enthusiastic about what the university can offer, that enthusiasm and knowledge can be passed on to his or her students year after year.

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