Death of Meritocracy Reconsidered (FORUM 2)

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Publication date: June 1, 2011

TREVOR FISHER

Poor social mobility has become controversial, with the stranglehold of the independent schools over elite universities intensifying during the New Labour period. The author identifies the failure of New Labour’s Mark 2 A level reforms to deal with the situation, particularly the introduction of the A star at A level, which has given the independent schools a massive and apparently objective superiority over all other schools, including grammar schools, in the university entrance race. Together with increased tuition fees and the prospect of above quota admissions for rich students with high grades, elite universities are in danger of becoming finishing schools for the rich. The author proposes reintroducing the Advanced Extension Award, also known as the Special Paper, as an immediate means of addressing inequality in the 18 plus exam system and university entrance as a step towards a more fundamental meritocratic reform of the exam and university entrance system.

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