Michael Gove argues that if schools raised the aspirations of their pupils lots more poor children would end up at Oxford and Cambridge. The reality is that only a handful of state schools and colleges send pupils in any numbers to Oxbridge. There are four successful sixth-form colleges that admit large numbers of 16-year-olds and have the critical mass to prepare a proportion for Oxbridge. Two are in affluent areas – Hills Road in Cambridge and Peter Symonds in Winchester.
Apart from sixth-form colleges, the other schools that sent 20 or more to Oxbridge last autumn are grammars. All are in the south-east.
The latest figures reveal that the top ten state schools for Oxbridge are four sixth-form colleges and six grammar schools. The furtherest north you can live to have a child in one of the grammars is Enfield in north London.
Two sixth-form colleges give independent schools a run for their money: Hills Road in Cambridge, which has 880 sixthformers in what used to be called the upper sixth, but is now year 13, managed 56 Oxbridge places. Peter Symonds Sixth Form College in Winchester, Hampshire, with the country”s biggest year 13, (1330), sent 44, more than its famous neightbour, Winchester College.
Further north, Greenhead College in Huddersfield has like Hills Road critical mass, (830 in year 13), and is less selective.The college sent 30 sixth-formers to Oxbridge. The sixth ranking is the Sixth-form College, Farnborough, (1270 in year 13), which sent 26 to Oxbridge.
If you live in the north, you don’t have a chance of getting your children into any of the other six schools. If you do live south of Reading, you will probably need to get a tutor to get them through the entrance tests. The highest performing is Colchester Royal Grammar School – 33 to Oxbridge – on a par with the Independent Magdalen College School in Oxford. It takes girls in the sixth form. The other boys’ school is Queen Elizabeth School in Barnet, which got 20 sixth-formers into Cambridge. QE Boys is the school that created upheaval in Jeremy Corbyn’s marriage. The left-wing MP for Islington North separated from his wife, Claudia Bracchitta, after she had insisted their son Ben should go to QE Boys.
Latymer School, a co-educational grammar in Enfield, north London, managed 24 places, mostly at Cambridge. Latymer’s sixth form draws in 16-year-olds from London’s many independents. In fifth place is Pate’s Grammar School, a co-educational school in Cheltenham, similar in size to QE Boys. (180 in year 13), sent 26 of its sixth-formers to Oxbridge. The only girl’s grammar in the list is Henrietta Barnet in Hampstead, north London.
Top state schools Oxford Cambridge
1 Hills Road, Cambridge 55 29 25
2 Peter Symond”s College, Winchester 44 24 20
3 Colchester Royal Grammar School 33 11 21
4 Greenhead College, Huddersfield 30 21 9
5 Pate”s Grammar School, Cheltenham 26 16 10
5 Sixth Form College Farnborough 26 10 16
7 Queen Elizabeth School, Barnet 24 4 20
7 Latymer School, Enfield, London 24 4 20
9 St Olave”s and St Saviour”s, Orpington 23 6 17
9 Judd School, Tonbridge 20 16 4
9 Henrietta Barnett, Hampstead 20 10 10