Social Mobility & Social Justice

Poor Careers Advice condemning pupils to poor universities - Sutton Trust

Wednesday 3rd February 2016

The Sutton Trust Making a Statement Report highlights the UCAS statement process has inherent biases and roundly states

...the advice and guidance that some young people receive at school when composing their personal statement may not reflect the content and style expected by admissions tutors. Those from more advantaged educational backgrounds are more likely to receive higher quality support.

The report basically said that teachers don't know how to word UCAS statements in order to catch the attention of admissions tutors. I'd agree with that to a certain extent, but I don't like the accusatory tone it takes against teachers who have a hell of a hard job to do. It often falls to teachers to give careers advice in these days of cutbacks post Connexions.

I do feel there is a lot of 'perceived wisdom' which gets passed around 6th form tutors who have little time to upskill themselves on the latest advice from universities. This is often enshrined by the head of 6th form jealously guarding their 6th formers and insisting on doing all UCAS statement prep in house, often without support from local universities. Well done if you're not one of these 6th forms by the way.

Further down the school there will often be a push to recruit to the schools' own 6th form and it's often accepted by parents and pupils alike that to go to university you need to do A levels, so I'd go a step further - What about poorer pupils unable to afford uni fees who not be thinking of university because of the cost. Should they not be appraised of the apprenticeship route? It's perfectly possible to progress from an apprenticeship to university or even to be sponsored by your apprenticeship employer to go to university. However, if you search "University apprenticeship route" you'll find lots of articles for university vs apprenticeship. It is the school's job to see that this information is passed on.

Report from Telegraph Personal statements, when teachers get it wrong.