New polling released by the Sutton Trust finds over 40% of teachers in state secondary schools say they would rarely or never advise academically-gifted pupils to apply to Oxbridge.  The survey of 561 secondary teachers, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) also found that over 60% of teachers underestimate the percentage of students from state schools on undergraduate courses at Oxbridge, with a quarter saying fewer than 20% of students come from the state sector (the actual figure is around 60%).

The Sutton Trust’s teacher summer schools aim to dispel these myths about Oxbridge and other leading universities and to provide support to state school teachers to help bright students to apply to top universities. This summer 200 teachers will be attending the residential courses at Cambridge University (100 teachers), St Andrews University (45) and Durham University (50).

Teachers attending the summer school at Cambridge University will stay overnight at the university and attend two days of activities including:

–          observing project work, lectures and teaching facilities in their subject areas

–          attending bespoke teacher subject sessions, delivered by Cambridge academics

–          attending bespoke sessions on supporting university applications, information, advice and guidance, and classroom pedagogy, including advice on setting challenging work for their brightest students

The teacher summer school scheme was piloted in 2013 and is now being sponsored by HSBC. As with all Sutton Trust programmes, teacher summer schools will be subject to external evaluation as part of Durham University’s over-arching evaluation of the Trust’s programmes.

James Turner, Director of Programmes at the Sutton Trust said;

“We all know how important teachers are in guiding their students’ choices about where to go to university. As our polling shows, too few state school teachers consider Oxbridge as a realistic possibility for their brightest pupils. They might not think the students will get in to the universities, or fit in once there, or they may lack the specialist knowledge to prepare their students for the application process. We hope our teacher summer schools will begin to change that – dispelling some misconceptions, informing views and helping staff to support able students in applying to top universities.

“Over the past 17 years we’ve directly helped thousands of state school students access places at top universities through our summer school programme. This scheme will reach 2,500 teachers over five years and will hopefully add to the number of students from less advantaged backgrounds getting places at top universities.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

1.The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 140 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.

 2. Over the course of the five years, 2,500 teachers will be reached through the summer schools. Teachers will come from schools selected according to a number of criteria including:

  • School or college below national average point score at A Level
  • School or college currently sends small numbers of students on the Sutton Trust Summer School
  • School or college has few successful applicants to elite universities

3. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) surveyed a representative sample of 1,163 teachers in March 2014 in both primary and secondary schools as part of their Teacher Voice omnibus survey. Five hundred and sixty-one secondary school teachers responded to the following questions:

Which of the following best describes the frequency with which you advise the academically-gifted pupils that you teach (or have taught) to apply to Oxbridge?
 Secondary
%
Always15
Usually32
Rarely29
Never13
Don’t know11
No response0
N =561
Due to rounding, percentages may not sum to 100.
The percentages in this table are weighted by FSM rates for secondary schools.
This question has been filtered to a subset of respondents.
Source: NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey March 2014.

 

At Oxbridge, what percentage of students from UK schools and colleges on undergraduate courses come from the state sector?
 Secondary
%
Up to 20%25
21 to 30%20
31 to 40%10
41 to 50%8
51 to 60%7
61 to 70%2
71 to 80%0
81% +0
Don’t know29
No response0
N =561
Due to rounding, percentages may not sum to 100.
The percentages in this table are weighted by FSM rates for secondary schools.
This question has been filtered to a subset of respondents.
Source: NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey March 2014.

 

At Oxbridge, what percentage of students from UK schools and colleges on undergraduate courses come from the state sector?
Senior leaderClassroom teacher
 %%
Up to 20%1726
21 to 30%2319
31 to 40%1110
41 to 50%166
51 to 60%86
61 to 70%32
71 to 80%00
81% +00
Don’t know2230
No response00
N =85476
Due to rounding, percentages may not sum to 100.
The percentages in this table are weighted by FSM rates for secondary schools.
This question has been filtered to a subset of respondents.
Source: NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey March 2014.

 

Which of the following best describes the frequency with which you advise the academically-gifted pupils that you teach (or have taught) to apply to Oxbridge?
Senior leaderClassroom teacher
 %%
Always3212
Usually4030
Rarely1632
Never414
Don’t know912
No response00
N =85476

 

Due to rounding, percentages may not sum to 100.

The percentages in this table are weighted by FSM rates for secondary schools.

This question has been filtered to a subset of respondents.

Source: NFER Teacher Voice Omnibus Survey March 2014.

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