UCAS figures, just announced report a fall of 4% (more than 25,000) in the number of people applying for UK university places. Of course, some of the fall is the result of Brexit (5% less EU students applying), and some of it is the result of a rise in tuition fees and in the increase in interest rates from 4.6% to 6.1% from this autumn.
However, underlying these figures and even the higher numbers of applicants in past years, is the relatively small number of students from more disadvantaged backgrounds who apply and eventually attend these universities. In 2016, The Independent reported a drop in the percentage of students from this group admitted to 7 of the 24 universities comprising the Russell Group, which includes Oxford and Cambridge. This is despite significant sums of money being spent on encouraging just this group.
The Cheshire Free School is committed to working towards addressing this issue in a very significant way.
Why are we so bothered?
Three members of the ‘core’ group developing this bid are first generation university attendees and are therefore passionately committed to the transformational power of education. All three come from working class backgrounds, one being an RAF child, who today would have attracted Pupil Premium funding because of the number of schools she attended as a result of constant relocations. All three have a huge amount of experience in education developing strategies to help students reach their full potential, which may well include Russell Group universities. Also in our core group is a Cambridge graduate and he is able to support the programme of experiences and activities, additional to the conventional A Level courses, which will help students with limited funds to apply with confidence that they can be as successful as those from more privileged backgrounds.
We still need your expressions of interest in this Free School to add weight to our application, so if you would like to have these opportunities, or as a parent, you want them for your daughters and sons, make sure you let us know. Please note this is not a final commitment, but will simply indicate a groundswell of support for our ideas.