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Class in the class room

In 1999, just over 83% of pupils at independent schools went to university, while only 31% of children in the state sector made the same choice. Between 1999 and 2010, the number of state school pupils who attended university increased from 31% to 35.7%, an average rise of around 1% for every three years of devolution. But a new comparison of school-leaver destinations has revealed the goal of overhauling university access in the poorest areas has failed in many cases.

Only 5% of pupils from Govan High School went on to higher education in 1999. In 2010, the figure was 5.1%. At Drumchapel High 9% of school leavers attended university last year, up just 3% on 1999. A pupil leaving Drumchapel High is three times more likely to be unemployed than at university. By contrast, the university entrance rate for Jordanhill – a seven-minute car ride from Govan High – is 82.4%. Only 1% of pupils at Drumchapel High achieved five or more Highers in S5 in 2009, compared with 39% at Jordanhill. At the High School of Glasgow a private school is only a few minutes’ drive from Govan High 98% of its pupils end up in higher education.

In Edinburgh the Wester Hailes Education Centre, which serves one of the most deprived areas in the city, 8.4% of pupils left for university in 2010. This was up from a maximum of 5% 11 years preciously. At Firhill High in the adjacent catchment area, the figure is 49.5%. Only 8% of pupils entered higher education last year after attending Craigroyston Community High. But at the nearby Royal High, it was 46.8%. Edinburgh’s fee-paying Fettes College is just two miles from the state school at Craigroyston the figure for Fettes is 97%.


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