15th January 2018
Daily summary of the latest news and opinions from the world of independent education bought to you by Education Advisers...
Private schools find ‘tutor-proof’ selection test
A government minister called it the “holy grail” of selective education. Now a group of head teachers may have found it — by coming up with a “tutor-proof” test and interview to select girls for top private schools.
Girls applying to the 12 schools that make up the North London Girls’ Schools Consortium are sitting admission tests and interviews this month. The group has agreed to replace 11-plus exams in maths and English with a one-hour “cognitive ability” test and interviews based on “what if”-style questions.
The move by the schools — including Godolphin & Latymer, South Hampstead High and St James Senior Girls’ School — follows concern about an “arms race” and “dreadful prepping” as middle-class families try to get a place at an elite school.
Victoria Bingham, headmistress of South Hampstead High School, said: “The tutoring industry is pernicious because it encourages a culture of marginal gains and perfectionism that is unhealthy for young kids. Childhood is over-strategised now; children’s lives are over-scheduled . . . Children need free time to play, to dream and to be bored.”
Bingham said some prep schools and tutors coached children even for interviews. The new interviews this month have “what if” questions that cannot be predicted. She refused to give examples, saying that would defeat the object. The cognitive ability tests start next year.
Science degrees not appealing to girls despite rise in A-level take-up
Girls are still not as interested in studying sciences at university as boys despite a rise in popularity of Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects at A level, a new study has found.
Computer science, mechanical engineering, maths, medicine and physics all make it into the top ten preferences for boys – but only medicine and maths make it into the most popular courses for girls.
The study, of more than 100,000 sixth-formers, has found that they were more interested in subjects like geography, English and criminology than their male peers.
The data from Unifrog – a destinations platform used by schools to help students decide what they want to do next – has been released on the application deadline day for most degree courses.
Girls may not be as keen to study sciences at university as boys – and yet the numbers of female students taking Stem subjects at A level is rising.
Last year, for example, the number of females taking computing at A level increased by 34 per cent.
And girls still receive more of the top GCSE grades in the majority of subjects, apart from maths, physics, economics and statistics.
Slightly more boys (46 per cent) than girls (43 per cent) will apply to a Russell Group university this year, according to the analysis from the online tool Unifrog.
And the study predicts that 63 per cent of independent school students will apply to at least one of the UK’s 24 leading universities, compared to 40 per cent of state school students.
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