Oxford University is opening a summer school for white working class boys

The University say they’re one of the most underrepresented groups

Oxford University is planning to open up a summer school in partnership with the Sutton Trust, aimed at encouraging more white working class boys to apply to Oxford. According to the Independent, applications are open to any Year 12 state school student with at least 5 A or A* grades at GCSE.

This is the first time a summer school has been opened specifically for this demographic, although targeted summer schools do already exist: one such is already run by Oxford encouraging BME students to apply, particularly those from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds.

Students will be given the opportunity to learn topics they would not usually get to experience – subjects such as, computer science, ancient history, law, and medical sciences, which are taught at Oxford but less so at state school level. Accommodation will be free, and all teaching will be done by Oxford academics and professors, allowing an insight into Oxford life.

Some have questioned the need for such targeted support, given that neither white British nor male demographics are in a position of disadvantage in society as a whole. However, there is precedent for this choice: the Sutton Trust reports that just 24 per cent of white British boys on free school meals gain at least five C grades at GCSE (including English and maths) – the lowest percentage of any demographic. White British pupils are also least likely to pursue higher education at all: only 45 per cent of both male and female white British state school pupils go on to higher education, surprisingly lower than any other ethnic group.

Such a move at Oxford is particularly welcome, as it was revealed that in 2016 fewer state school students were admitted than in previous years – a trend which goes against that of many other universities.

While encouraging lower-achieving groups to proceed to highest education is certainly a good thing, it is also clear change needs to occur from a lower level. With Oxford and Cambridge entry requirements creeping up (Cambridge raising requirements for their science courses to A*A*A in 2014), focus needs to be put on raising qualifications at an earlier level – otherwise, disadvantaged students will not be able to apply for the summer school at all. However, it’s important to note that passion for the subject is also vital to securing a place at Oxbridge – and if such a summer school encourages students to apply, this raising of aspirations can only be a good thing.

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