|http://www.sina.com.cn 2005/03/28 19:48 国际在线|
All universities should require significantly higher grades from applicants from leading independent schools because of the quality of education they receive, a senior teacher at Eton said yesterday.
It would be unjust if parents were buying entry to elite universities for their children rather than the opportunity for their children to reach their academic potential, he said.
"I would feel it totally wrong if an independent school were getting a higher proportion of pupils into Oxford and Cambridge than their real ability merits," said David Townend.
Mr Townend, 58, an assistant master, admitted that his remarks would be unpopular with some parents. They would also be controversial at a time when the heads of independent schools feared that their students could miss out as universities strive to meet the Government's targets for increasing the number of state school entrants.
But Mr Townend, who has taught chemistry at the Berkshire school for 37 years, said social justice demanded that universities follow Bristol's example of taking school background into account when sending out their offers of places.
He proposed a motion which was overwhelmingly passed by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers at its annual conference in Torquay committing it to campaign for entry to higher education to be on potential alone. The union voted to encourage universities to make allowance in the selection procedures for a variety of educational provision experienced by individual candidates at school or college.
"It must be right that pupils from Eton should be required to achieve significantly higher grades than someone who has not had the benefits we at Eton can provide," Mr Townend said.
Universities have been given "benchmark" targets by the Higher Education Funding Council for increasing the proportion of state educated pupils they admit.
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service is also changing the application form to include questions indicating a candidate's school and social background.
This month the London School of Economics admitted that it sets aside 40 places which are available only to applicants from low-achieving state schools.
Mr Townend told the conference of teachers from state and independent schools that he would not want to see universities set quotas for state school pupils, which would be unfair.
However, research had shown that teachers in the independent sector tended to overestimate the grades their pupils would achieve at the end of their courses while those in the state sector underestimated them.
It would be much fairer for pupils to apply to university only after they had received their results, argued Mr Townend, who said that he believed passionately in social justice.
"I emphatically state that entry to university should be on potential alone.
"Oxbridge asks for three As and many good universities from the Russell group ask for 3 Bs from Eton.
"I see no reason why they should not offer much lower grades from schools without such good results."
Last year Eton introduced psychometric tests designed by Durham University for all applicants at the age of 11 and they had been used to measure the potential of junior scholars.