Thursday, November 05, 2015

God, we go through this every time

This story is a hardy perennial, the true meaning of which seems permanently missed.
State school pupils are likely to do better at university than independent school pupils with similar A-level results, according to a new study.
Take that finding, and come at it from another angle, and you get "State school pupils are likely to get worse A-level result than independent school pupils of similar academic ability".Which is what you'd expect, given that independent schools get, on average, better A-level results than state schools. So to get from there to here takes a little effort:
The researchers suggest two reasons for the finding: private school students may have lower incentives to perform well at university and therefore may invest more effort in social life rather than academic work; or they may have been coached at school and subsequently struggle when they get to university.
The second reason there is interestingly put (the first one is pure guesswork). What the researchers are calling "coaching" is what is usually called "teaching". Luckily, given that this story keeps on bobbing up, there's a standard answer from independent school heads:
“This study tells us that, unsurprisingly, A*s generally lead to good degrees. School heads already know that prior attainment is the key to later success,” said Chris Ramsey, headmaster of King’s School, Chester, and a spokesman for the Headmasters and Headmistresses Conference of leading private schools. 
“In the real world more independent school pupils get A*s in the first place, and overall get better degrees. Previous, more thorough research shows it is wrong to conclude that more than a tiny number – around 1% - of state school pupils entering at the same level will do better at university.”
Still, hats off I guess for managing to turn a story about poor teaching in state schools to one about lazy, entitled and over-coached kids at private ones.

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