Naturally, you want your child to get a good start in life. So naturally, you try to make sure s/he goes to a good school which gets good results in exams. If you are rich enough, you might even send him/her to an independent, fee-paying school with even higher academic standards. This way, your child will have the best possible chance of getting into a good university.
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Naturally, you want your child to get a good start in life. So naturally, you try to make sure s/he goes to a good school which gets good results in exams. If you are rich enough, you might even send him/her to an independent, fee-paying school with even higher academic standards. This way, your child will have the best possible chance of getting into a good university. However, if you lived in Britain today, this line of thinking would be all wrong. Instead, this is what you should do: find a school which has a very poor record for exam results (preferably in a poor area) and send your child there. Meanwhile, put money aside so that you can afford to hire private tutors occasionally. How can this be? Well, it works like this. It is generally thought desirable that the opportunity for a university education be equally accessible to all. But there are only enough university places for a minority (about 30 %) of British school leavers, and the vast majority of them continue to be occupied by kids from (upper) middle-class backgrounds, with an undue proportion coming from independent schools, because they do better in exams. The universities themselves are aware of this situation and for some time have been attempting to encourage applications from more disadvantaged sections of society. But recently, they have become even more anxious to do this because the govern-ment has made some of the money which they get conditional on them meeting certain targets concerning the proportion of entrants from state schools and schools from poor areas. As a result, positive discrimination is rapidly becoming normal practice, with universities awarding extra points to applicants in these disadvantaged categories. To a degree, this practice is logical. It is reasonable for universities to use not only achievement but also potential as a criterion for selection. And indeed there is some evidence to suggest that on average students from 'low-quality' schools do better at university than those with same exam results from 'high-quality' schools. However, there are signs that the practice is going too far. Horror stories have recently appeared in the press about star pupils being refused a place because they come from a school with a very good academic record. And if social background becomes more important than academic performance, it makes a mockery of academic standards. In any case, it is far more psychologically damaging to a rejected applicant to be told "you have no potential" than to be told "you did not perform well" (in an exam). Moreover, the new practice will lead to the absurd kind of parental strategy outlined above, which will give an even greater advantage to richer kids (whose parents can afford private tuition). Finally, one may question why it is the universities, rather than the government, who should be made responsible for righting the inadequacies of state education and the inequities of British society. aware: zich bewust. entrant: nieuweling. fee: schoolgeld. mockery: aanfluiting. occasionally: af en toe. potential: talent, begaafdheid. to right: rechttrekken, herstellen. tuition: onderwijs. undue: buitensporig.