The education minister rejected the idea that elite universities such as Oxford and Cambridge should “tilt the system” to accept more students from public schools.
Nadhim Zahavi said admission should be based on merit and the emphasis should be on more excellent schools.
His comments came after the vice-chancellor of Cambridge University, Professor Stephen Tup, told private schools to agree that there would be fewer students in Oxbridge in the future.
Tup said the university would “welcome others” and not tell private school students “we don’t want you”.
But Zakhavi said the government’s task is to reduce the achievement gap between the public and private sectors by improving the quality of public schools.
“I think it should be based on merit and evidence,” said Zahavi, who was given a role in the reshuffle of Boris Johnson’s cabinet in 2021. told the Times.
“We need to achieve great results for all children, wherever they live, and especially our children with the most disadvantaged. That’s why I bend the system to areas where there are fewer great schools or good, great schools.
“You don’t create a system that people think is fair and just, believing it’s easy to fix. The best thing you can do is create schools in the public system that are no less good than independent schools. What we are.
“I need to continue on my way to deliver more excellent and highly efficient schools. This is the right strategy. Not to mention, let me just accept that we’re not going to create great schools, so let me just turn the system away from the kids performing. ”
Zahavi told the newspaper that he wants private schools to be more involved in the public sector, noting the Italian College’s efforts to open three public sixth grades in Dudley, Middlesbrough and Oldham to help students enroll in Oxbridge.
“If we all give up some kind of tribalism and look at the evidence, we will achieve great results for every child,” he said. “If we do that and I can demonstrate that over the next two and a half years I did my job properly, then we really changed the lives of children across the country.”
Earlier in May, Tup told the Times that his school “should continue to make it clear that we intend to reduce over time the number of people coming from independent schools to places like Oxford or Cambridge.
“We would like them to be talented students, but they will compete with more and more students because of the public schools there are more and more students who see a potential place for themselves in Cambridge, Oxford or other Russells. Group universities.
University Minister Michelle Danelan said then: “It is really important that young people with the desire and ability to enter higher education, including the best universities, but this is only part of the obstacle. It’s about them completing these courses. “