The training secretary has pushed again towards the idea elite universities similar to Oxford and Cambridge should “tilt the system” to accept more pupils from state colleges.
Nadhim Zahawi mentioned admissions should be primarily based on benefit and the main focus should be on delivering more excellent colleges.
His feedback got here after the University of Cambridge’s vice-chancellor, Prof Stephen Toope, advised personal colleges to accept they’ll get fewer college students into Oxbridge in future.
Toope mentioned the college can be “welcoming others” reasonably than telling college students from personal colleges “we don’t want you”.
But Zahawi mentioned it was the job of the federal government to scale back the attainment hole between the state and personal sectors by growing the standard of state colleges.
“I think it should be based on merit and evidence,” Zahawi, who was promoted to his function in Boris Johnson’s 2021 cupboard reshuffle, told the Times.
“The thing to do is deliver great outcomes for all children, wherever they live, and especially our most disadvantaged children. Which is why I’m flexing the system towards those areas that have fewer great schools or good, outstanding schools.
“You don’t create a system that people feel is fair and equitable by in some way thinking that there is an easy fix. The best thing you can do is create schools in the state system that are as good as independent schools. Which we are.
“I need to continue my journey to deliver more outstanding and high-performing schools. That’s the right strategy. Not to say actually, let me just accept that we’re not going to produce outstanding schools so let me just tilt the system away from children who are performing.”
Zahawi advised the newspaper he wished personal colleges to grow to be more concerned with the state sector, noting the efforts of Eton College in opening three state sixth varieties in Dudley, Middlesbrough and Oldham to assist pupils achieve admission to Oxbridge.
“If we all set aside our sort of tribalism and look at the evidence, we will deliver great outcomes for every child,” he mentioned. “If we do that, and I can demonstrate for the next two and a half years I’ve done my job properly, then we’ll have made a real difference to the lives of children up and down the country.”
Toope advised the Times earlier in May his establishment would “have to keep making it very, very clear we are intending to reduce over time the number of people who are coming from independent school backgrounds into places like Oxford or Cambridge.
“Individual students who are talented, we would want them, but they’re going to be competing against an ever-larger pool because there are more students coming from state schools who are seeing a potential place for themselves at Cambridge or Oxford or other Russell Group universities.”
The universities minister, Michelle Donelan, mentioned the on the time: “It’s really important that young people with the desire and ability go into higher education, including the very best universities, but that’s only part of the hurdle. It’s about making sure they complete those courses.”