Sunday, July 22, 2007

Oxford Summer School

"Education is the missing link; if poor bright kids don’t make it to the best universities to become the surgeons, businessmen and other professionals of the future, the engine of social mobility runs out of petrol. Oxford is the most glaring example with only 53.7% of its students coming from state schools (less than 20% from standard comprehensives). This matters because 90% of our kids go to them and, as I had rammed home to me during my day at the Oxford summer school, intelligence has nothing to do with class, income or accent.

The miracle, as I discovered as I heard more about the lives of the summer school kids, is that these teenagers have made it this far. “I kept quiet about coming here,” one lad from Lancashire told me. “Me mates would think I was daft going to school in the holidays.”

The others laughed and agreed, and one added: “At school you wouldn’t let on that you are clever. The others look down on you. You have to hide it.” The best thing about summer school is finding that “there are people like you who are on your intellectual wavelength”.

The current occupant of the White House has an IVY league education because of financial affirmative action. The best and the brightest should not be denied a solid education because of whose blood runs through their veins.

Affordable education benefits all of us.

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