UK -- One in seven schools fails to send a student to top university

More than one in seven schools and colleges is failing to send any pupils to top universities, figures show.

Almost two-thirds do not send any students to Oxford or Cambridge, according to government data, while four schools and colleges in England did not send any pupils to university in 2009-10.

The Department for Education figures for state schools suggest that selective, or grammar, schools are much more likely to send pupils to Oxford and Cambridge than other schools.

Some 1,395 schools, around 64.5 per cent, which entered pupils for A-levels or equivalent qualifications, did not send any pupils to Oxford or Cambridge. Between them, these two universities have around 6,700 places for undergraduates each year.

In addition, 330 schools and colleges, around 15 per cent, did not send any students to one of the Russell Group of leading universities.

Of the top 13 schools and colleges sending pupils to Oxbridge, all but one were selective, while of the top 14 schools and colleges sending pupils to any Russell Group university 12 were selective.

The leading school was Colchester Royal Grammar in Essex, which saw 16 per cent of its pupils gain Oxford or Cambridge places in 2009-10.

The four which sent no students to university were the John Madejski Academy in Reading, Berks; Handsworth Wood Girls’ School in Birmingham; Avon Valley College, near Salisbury, Wilts; and Tividale Community Arts College in Oldbury, West Midlands, which has since become the Ormiston Sandwell Community Academy.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, which represents academics, said: “There is still a postcode lottery in the UK when it comes to education. We cannot afford to have areas in the country where it is unheard of for people to go to Oxford and Cambridge.”

Lord Hill, the schools minister, said: “It is interesting to see how well some local authorities in more deprived areas, and some schools and colleges in those authorities, do in terms of students going to our best universities, compared with those in other parts of the country.”

Reading had the highest proportion of pupils (28 per cent) going to a Russell Group university, as well as the biggest number going to Oxbridge (7 per cent). Of the top 10 local authorities sending pupils to leading universities, six had at least one grammar school.

The statistics also reveal that almost two-thirds of young people (64 per cent) were in “sustained” education (meaning they were in education for at least six months) after taking A-levels or other qualifications. Just over half (52 per cent) were at university, with 8 per cent at a Russell Group institution and 1 per cent at Oxford or Cambridge.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “Having destination data is useful ... However, these figures only give us a snapshot of one year group. We need three years of data in order to start talking about trends.”

Stephen Twigg, the shadow education secretary, said the figures showed there was “still a major divide between rich and poor in our education system”.

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