East Anglia: Suffolk students bucking Oxbridge trend

Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has warned of strike action over

Graham White, Suffolk secretary of the National Union of Teachers, has warned of strike action over government proposals - Credit: Archant

The number of Suffolk pupils who go on to study at Oxbridge is bucking the trend compared to the national average, new figures have revealed.

Statistics from the Department for Education, which were published yesterday, show that 1% of the county’s 3,650 pupils studied at Oxford or Cambridge compared to 0.7% of 341,200 students across England in 2010/11.

However, Suffolk is falling behind in terms of the overall students heading to higher education institutes with 43.5% compared to the national average of 48%.

But Graham White, secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teacher, said: “We shouldn’t get too hung up on higher education as the be all and end all.

“What’s important is that each and every student is able to achieve the very best that they can.

“For a large number of pupils, that may well be employment and for others it may well be higher education.

“The Oxford and Cambridge figure is very encouraging although I wouldn’t say Oxford is a good indicator of anything in particular but as it’s often regarded as the best university, it’s good news.”

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The figures revealed only 13.6% of Suffolk students headed to one of the top third higher education institutions in the country compared to England’s overall figure of 14.3%.

The data also showed that St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds topped the schools across the country by sending 7% of pupils to Oxbridge.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said: “Our Raising the Bar programme is focused on doing everything that we can to help our children and young people to fulfil their potential. We want to ensure that every single young person of school leaver age is fully prepared to take that important next step forward, whether that be university, further training or entering the workplace.”

In Essex, of the 8,700 pupils, a total of 47.5% went to a higher education institution - falling 0.7% short of the national average.

The statistics also showed that an above average of 0.8% of students went on to study at Oxbridge.

Schools Minister David Laws said: “These statistics demonstrate the gulf between the schools and colleges which deliver for their students – and those which do not.”

“Some students will be aiming to get a job after college, others will be hoping to win a place at a great university.

“But all schools and colleges must ensure they deliver for all their students – whatever that student’s target.”

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