COVID-19 has widened the educational inequality within the country; exam-age children have received vastly different amounts of teaching. However, this was the case before COVID and will remain so afterwards. Many Universities and organisations seek to compensate this by running schemes for ‘disadvantaged’ children to make opportunities fairer. On the surface this is a good idea and encourages people from less privileged backgrounds to apply for University places/ courses/ work experience etc but it excludes many students who are too ‘privileged to apply’.
Examples of unfairness include the classification of Grammar schools as part of the state system so such students receive the education of a private school but get the added opportunities afforded to those in a state school. Independent school pupils on large academic scholarships, who would ordinarily be eligible for free school meals, are excluded from programmes to increase social mobility and exclusion despite coming from just as poor backgrounds. Furthermore the use of home postcode to assess privilege (eg. POLAR4) is a flawed measure given that it does not take into consideration whether a student’s parent owns the home or is just renting; students who live at multiple addresses can also pick which is their ‘less privileged’ to record on their applications.
Therefore fundamental change is needed to make the application process for Universities and higher education as fair as possible.