Skip header navigation

Inequalities between schools preparing pupils for university

Back to news

Students from high attaining state schools are better prepared for the university application process than their peers in more deprived areas, new research has found.

Researchers at the University of Stirling looked at the guidance and advice given to students applying to university from different state schools in Scotland.

They found that while high attaining schools focused on preparing applicants to be desirable to leading universities, the focus in low attaining schools was on persuading their students that university is advantageous.

The report, published by the journal Social Sciences said: “Within the most advantaged schools, there was a long-term commitment to actively build the skills that institutions desired and undertake one-to-one interviews to ensure the personal statement was pitched correctly.

“Amongst the most deprived communities, there was evidence of a long-term ‘battle’ by teachers to foster student aspirations and encourage them to reach their potential. This appears to lead to teachers focusing on persuading students to apply, rather than preparing them longer-term to be desirable.”

 

head shot of Jennifer Ferguson
This sends a powerful message to local authorities and education providers that if they are striving for fair access to higher education across all schools, then they must start preparing and persuading students of all backgrounds much earlier.
Jennifer Ferguson PhD candidate

Lead author Jennifer Ferguson, a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Social Sciences, said: “The research highlights the big differences in the preparation for higher education between state schools.

“This sends a powerful message to local authorities and education providers that if they are striving for fair access to higher education across all schools, then they must start preparing and persuading students of all backgrounds much earlier.”

The researchers conducted interviews with nine teachers from six state schools and 25 young people from 18 state schools in Scotland.

Scroll back to the top