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The stark reality of how going to eight certain schools will set you up for life

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Pupils check their A Level results. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Pupils check their A Level results. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Attending one of eight top schools in the UK can make you 70 times more likely to get accepted to Oxford or Cambridge, according to research published by the Sutton Trust on Friday.

The Access to Advantage report, which analyses UK university acceptances rates for the 2015-2017 cohorts, found that the eight schools and colleges with the highest number of Oxford and Cambridge acceptances had 1,310 between them, while almost 2,900 schools had just 1,200 collectively.

Independent school pupils are more likely to win a place at Oxbridge, the report found.

While a third of all applications come from independent school students, a much larger proportion (42%) are granted places. In comparison, a third of applications come from comprehensively educated students, but only a quarter of them gain a place.

This is despite the fact that just 7% of the UK population and 18% of those taking A-levels attended a private school over this period.

Pupils from Halton, Knowsley, Lincolnshire, North Lincolnshire, Portsmouth, Rochdale, Rutland, Salford, Southampton and Thurrock are the least likely to get into Oxbridge, having two or fewer acceptances over the three years.

While some of these gaps were driven by differences in A-level results, the research also showed different progression rates between comprehensive and independent school pupils with similar exam results.

Of those from schools in the top fifth for exam results, not only are independent school pupils far more likely to apply to Oxford or Cambridge in the first place, they’re 7% more likely to be accepted.

One factor that remained the same across the board was achievement. Students who were accepted to Oxford or Cambridge earned, on average, straight A* A-level grades.

The Sutton Trust wants universities to use the data in their future admissions processes to focus on areas that are under-represented, and make reduced grade offers to recognise the difference in circumstances faced by applicants.

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