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It’s not ‘virtue-signalling’: 20 Essex Street QC hits back at critics of contextual recruitment system

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Decision to embrace City law hiring process drew fire from Legal Cheek readers

A barrister at London’s 20 Essex Street chambers has robustly defended the use of contextual recruitment as a means of attracting a more diverse range of aspiring barristers to the bar.

Michael Coburn QC, who heads up the London set’s pupillage committee, said that its diversity endeavours were not “virtue signalling” or “an empty show of commitment to a good cause, unaccompanied by anything of substance”.

As reported by Legal Cheek, 20 Essex Street became the first chambers to implement contextual recruitment into its existing pupillage hiring model. The system, run by London-based recruitment agency Rare, pulls data from two databases (school/college results and UK postcodes) and combines this information to place candidates’ accomplishments in context.

The fresh approach (for the bar anyway) was criticised by some Legal Cheek readers, with one describing it as “a load of virtue-signalling piffle”, while another wrote: “I’m presuming this is a joke”.

Writing in Counsel Magazine, Coburn has now hit back at online critics, stressing that “we are trying to do our bit, and there seems nothing wrong in anything that signals to the world that the bar is continuing to evolve the methods by which it can be made open to all, irrespective of anything but talent.”

Addressing arguments that pupillage hopefuls should be judged on merit and merit alone, the commercial law specialist continued:

“We agree that decisions should be made on merit; the central remit of our pupillage committee remains to recruit the best candidates. The question is how one identifies the best candidates… The basic point is simply that some achievements may gain lustre from their circumstances. If you want accurately to assess how impressive a 100-metres time is, you need to know the strength of the headwind.”

Contextual recruitment has been on the scene for a number of years now, with big City players including Allen & Overy and Clifford Chance and Linklaters already using the software in one form or another.

As the debate surrounding the system rumbles on, there is no question that the bar continues to have some issues with diversity. The latest Bar Standards Board (BSB) stats suggest that one-third of barristers attended a private school. This is in stark contrast with the population as a whole which is about 7% privately-educated. Interestingly, however, the gender and ethnic diversity of pupil barristers is broadly in line with the population (of England and Wales), with 50.4% of pupils being female and 16.3% black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME).

The 2019 Legal Cheek Chambers Most List

90 Comments

Anonymous

Which postcodes does the system use? Applicant’s address? Parents’ address? What?

How can it distinguish between a detached single house and the little flat next door in the conversion, even using a full postcode? And does it recognise social housing addresses?

(18)(4)

Anonymous

One has to buy the kids a parachute flat somewhere grubby to use the postcode for those sort of things nowadays. It can be part of the buy to let portfolio so it is not all bad.

(8)(1)

State school'd MC trainee

Postcode during the majority if education I believe.
The flat or the detatched in Bolton are unlikely to have the same advantages in life as the ones in Chelsea

(2)(0)

Anonymous

General geography is irrelevant. A family in Bolton with a good income is a more ‘privileged’ background to come from than being a child of a hard up single mother renting a flat in Camden Town. Even though the single mother might live in the same postcode as wealthy families in big houses.

(State school’d barrister.)

(3)(0)

Gerontion

‘The basic point is simply that some achievements may gain lustre from their circumstances.’

No. The achievement (a high first, a BCL, experience in industry etc.) is of absolute value regardless of the circumstances at least insofar as it is indicative of aptitude as a barrister. It does not matter than a candidate has been born with a silver spoon in his mouth – if he is highly qualified and accomplished then he will likely make a good barrister. Perhaps the circumstances are relevant in considering the personal qualities of an applicant – and indeed if two identical applicants, one from a very privileged and one from an underprivileged background, were to be in contention then perhaps this might be useful. But otherwise context is supremely irrelevant.

(42)(19)

Anonymous

Don’t think that holds up. If private education made no difference to the results obtained by two pupils of equal ability then nobody would waste money on private education and there’d be no market for it. If candidates A and B both get AAAA at A-Level but candidate A’s partents paid £30k a year for private education for him and candidate B did it with no help at a comprehensive, I don’t think you can logicaly say the achivements are equal. What candidate B did was more difficult that what candidate A did.

(55)(45)

Anonymous

The achievements are equal, because what gets you the results is your core intellect/ability to do well in exams, and that operates regardless of the circumstances of your education. What private education gives you, and this is why responsible parents pay for it, is something far more rounded than the slop bucket mediocrity of the state system. In short, the education is better, even though your core intellect/ability to do well in exams remains unaltered. That is why, as well as being better educated, private school pupils are confident and socially-polished, whereas the products of state schools are gauche and chippy. It would therefore be madness for any employer to prefer a state school candidate over one from a private school, where those individuals are of equal intellect.

(63)(49)

Anonymous

“Private school pupils are confident and socially-polished, whereas the products of state schools are gauche and chippy.”

My, my! You really are a characature of your kind, aren’t you?

The most rounded individuals I have encountered at the Bar seem to be the grammar school and Redbrick types.

I’ve also seen plenty of braying public school and Oxbridge types fail because of their over-confidence and unwillingness to learn.

(24)(41)

Anonymous

Braying Public School types might have found an agreeable niche in what used to be known as “mixed Common Law” sets 25 years ago (i.e second and third rank chambers), but a chambers like 20 Essex St will have had no use for such types, if ever, and certainly not now. As Gerontion said, the background circumstances of a candidate of high ability don’t undermine the fact of the candidate’s ability.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

But they are self-evidently not of equal ablity as one needed hundreds of extra hours of extra education to reach the same standard and the other did not need any. One is naturally intelligent and the other cannot compete with him without help.

(13)(36)

Anonymous

No, because you are either bright or you are not. That innate or core intellect exists regardless of your schooling. If you are not bright, no amount of money spent on private education will make you clever.

(30)(12)

Anonymous

Agree. But it can help you get better results in exams as that isn’t the same thing as native intelligence.

(12)(14)

Anonymous

No, it can’t. There is a direct correlation between native intellect and performance in exams. That is why academic institutions rely on exam results as the primary indicator of intelligence.

(20)(8)

Anonymous

There is, but exams also measure knowllege aquired as well as intelligence. I am not as bright as Newton, but I managed to pass A-Level physics with a B. Jump in a time machine and ask Newton to take an A-Level physics paper and he will fail it as he lacks the knowllege of Boyle’s Law, atomic structure, quantum mechanics etc needed to pass it. My brother is much smarter than me, but he pissed about and didn’t do any work for his A-Levels at 18 and failed them all. 5 years later he re-did them, but the work in and qualified as a doctor. Exams do not measure intelligence, they measure your knowllege in the subject and your ability to apply that knowllege.

A gauche and chippy future US trainee

Wow, just keep telling yourself that your achievements are solely down to your own innate intelligence and not mummy and daddy throwing money at your education.

Prick

(33)(2)

Anonymous

This comment underpinns the entire comment section. Private school kids deluded enough to think their responsible for their own achievements run the legal sector

(12)(2)

Anonymous

they’re responsible*

(0)(0)

Anonymous

At least at Oxbridge, state school kids do better than the privately educated. As they are admitted with the same or worse grades than the privately educated, this suggests that the “absolute achievement” theory does not hold in the case of school grades at least….

(9)(19)

Anonymous

State school kids fare worse in exams at Oxbridge, at least in arts subjects. This is because their written English is far inferior to those from private schools and they therefore can’t express themselves as well.

(21)(7)

Anonymous

They can’t express themselves as good, as they they seem.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

Not surprising. It’s ridiculously easy to do well in essay subjects at A-Levels if you learn how to structure your thoughts well. It’s not as much a test of intelligence as it is a test of how well essay structure has been drilled in to you, and privately educated kids have ideas of structuring essays drilled into them from a very young age (Christopher Hitchens for example had to write either a thousand or ten thousand word essay and read it aloud to his dean every week). Beyond that, quality of thought is of course a key factor in determining grade, but again, privately educated kids just know how to convey their thought in more glamorous words which I believe heavily influences the mark one attains in a topic; it’s not that state school students can’t express their thoughts well, it’s probably just that these students don’t communicate themselves using an established order – that is sophisticated words and complex sentence structure that isn’t a more efficient a way to convey thought, but just a more glamorous way to do so.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

They are relevant because saying that a persons achievements is wholly based on their own ability and nothing else is foolish. A smart candidate may have received poor teaching which resulted in him struggling more than he might have otherwise. Alternatively, a weak candidate may have gotten work experience opportunities due to personal connections. To ignore this when you are assessing candidates is foolish

(9)(1)

Kronos

I feel this system will unfairly harm the chances of candidates whose parents work for the top, top, top titan that is Greenberg Glusker LLP. By definition, such candidates are, much like Théoden of Rohan, the ‘lesser sons of greater sires’.

(25)(3)

Kronos

No-one leaves the Big Double-G. You go out in a coffin, or not at all.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Yeah, that’s what I meant: ‘leaving’ as in expiring. The speeches are given in place of the last rites.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Postcodes huh?

In my childhood post code area there was a lad who went to Cambridge, a lad who’s still in prison, a girl who went to Exeter and the son of a milkman who followed his father’s trade. I am the son of trade and latterly unemployment. My next door neighbours had three daughters, all of whom were mothers before they were 20 and never worked. Down the road was a lad who ended up doing clerical work, and two other lads – brothers – who I think are both car mechanics.

Given the broad range of backgrounds and outcomes of the folk from my old postcode, what on earth can an algorithm tell any pupillage committee about the context of anybody else from that postcode? Absolutely bugger all, I would suggest.

(19)(4)

Anonymous

So from your examples there was one kid who went to Cambridge and another to a Russell Group. There are some post codes where that would be a cause for a street party and others where parents would be asking for their school fees back! Extreme examples but someone who has grown up in Guildford (for example) is much more likely to have had professional parents, private school education and access to all the support they need (sport, music, tutoring, all those things that universities and latterly employers like for a rounded employee) than someone who has grown up in Hull.

Postcodes are a blunt instrument but on the whole they give a decent idea of your background and are useful in making a clearly class based profession more egalitarian.

(8)(23)

Anonymous

‘a clearly class based profession’ what on earth does this mean?

(17)(5)

Anonymous

Read the article?

(1)(12)

Anonymous

Understand English?

(2)(0)

Anonymous

Quite. It’s meaningless bullshit.

(19)(0)

Anonymous

I grew up in and around Hull and qualified despite being a teenage parent. Guildford can kiss my arse.

(0)(2)

Former teacher.

This is just daft.

The public schools (or “independent schools”) are the last establishments in the UK that offer a genuinely good education, with the exception of a few scattered academies and grammar schools.

Perhaps if the government reinstated grammar schools, there would more more children from less privileged backgrounds going into white collar professions. Top universities ultimately don’t give a monkeys where you went to school, and neither do prospective employers. What matters are your academic credentials from university and your overall attitude to work. Perhaps if the state sector stopped giving prizes to people who come last and encouraging students to go to the University of “generic former-polytechnic” who wouldn’t have to discuss any of this poppycock.

(33)(9)

Anonymous

As the son of an impoverished 19th century coal miner and his consumption-addled wife*, I approve of this effort to give the lower orders, like myself, a chance to climb up the greasy pole.

*To be clear, she is not my mother. My mother sold me for a bottle of gin and two shillings, before she emigrated to serve as deputy head of public relations for King Leopold II.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

We were so impoverished, we had to climb a greasy Albanian.

(1)(0)

Bob

Rare is not a “recruitment agency.” Please know what you are talking about before spouting this nonsense and explain how contextual recruitment actually works.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

From Rare’s own website:

“We have relationships with over 10,000 brilliant candidates. We work on school work experience, internship and graduate programmes. We use our cutting-edge contextual data to identify disadvantaged outperformers. We use our three-stage, in-person assessment process to make sure we send the right people to you. And we use our one-on-one relationships with candidates to give them all-important personal development.

In 2018, 14% of trainee hires across 11 City law firms came from Rare.”

It does sound a little like a recruitment agency.

(7)(1)

Anonymous

Ooh, gimme some of that sweet cutting-edge contextual data!

(1)(0)

Anonymous

It’s not though. Rare’s an organisation which runs longer term development programmes to help students who lack social capital, gain the employability skills they’re missing. They also developed a Contextual Recruitment plug in, which looks at many data points, not just school and postcode, to give firms more information (context, if you will) about the student’s challenges as well as achievements. It’s up to Rare’s clients to decide how to use that data.

Recruitment agencies charge placement fees when a firm hires one of the candidates on their books. That’s a completely different business model and not what they do.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Just because some little bastard from Hull or Moss Side doesn’t know how to tie his tie and how not to call the interviewer ‘mate’ does not mean he lacks ‘social capital’. It just makes him a badly brought up idiot who’d be better served staying well away from the professions.

(25)(11)

Anonymous

Most children from state schools are embarrassingly unsophisticated and should leave the professions well alone. It is hardly surprising that the law, for example, is dominated by privately-educated people.

(18)(12)

Anonymous

I grew up in and around Hull and qualified despite being a teenage parent. You can kiss my arse as well as Guildford.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

See how rude they are? That’s why we don’t want them.

(4)(1)

Anonymous

How on earth can anyone, besides entitled silver-spoons who believe they should have everything handed to them because they were privately school educated, honestly believe that this is not a great idea?

(16)(33)

Anonymous

Because it is self-evidently a foolish idea, which will harm the legal profession and those whom the profession serves.

(37)(5)

Anonymous

A firebrand socialist with an impoverished upbringing writes:

Because it is a terrible idea which can stand no realistic prospect of achieving its stated aim.

(8)(3)

Real Barrister

I think it depends on how it is used.

If you have two candidates of, prima facie, equal ability and attainment, and one has been privately educated, it indicates that the other has reached the required standard without the assistance, and is therefore arguably more able.

If this system is used to favour the non-privately educated candidate, then fine.

If, however, you have two candidates, the non-privately educated of which has a lower attainment, and use it to speculate that this candidate could have done better with the privileges and is therefore favoured over the other, then it might be a misuse of the system which would ultimately lower standards.

(26)(1)

Anonymous

Hello real barrister,

“If you have two candidates of, prima facie, equal ability and attainment, and one has been privately educated, it indicates that the other has reached the required standard without the assistance, and is therefore arguably more able.”

This sounds perfectly sensible, and I doubt that many would disagree with you. However, it doesn’t explain why we don’t see the majority of barristers being state educated in preference to their privately educated comparators.

I think perhaps too much emphasis is placed on a prospective pupil’s education. It’s impossible to consider privately educated Oxford graduate with judicial assistant experience as being no greater in achievement than somebody with nothing but a 2:1 from Warwick, but to my mind this is a shortsighted and possibly entirely misguided analysis. Any candidate’s success or otherwise in the profession will depend not on what they did before they got there, but what they do once they arrive. There is no guarantee that Tobias Cavendish-ffitch will take silk in 15 years, or for that matter that Kayden Smith won’t.

(0)(18)

Anonymous

The 66% is a majority. The 33% who are privatley educated is called a minority. That’s the trouble with private education. It produces people who can’t read an article or do simply maths once they haven’t got an army of private tutors to help them.

(6)(1)

Anonymous

A Warwick graduate is by definition intellectually second rate and badly educated, and has no place at the Bar or at a City firm.

(21)(3)

Anonymous

It is unlikely that anyone from Warwick “university” would end up at the Bar. They would simply not be clever enough.

(11)(4)

confused.co.uk.org

I was rejected by Warwick but accepted by UCL, Durham, Edinburgh and Liverpool.

As a result, I thought Warwick was highly respected for law.

Is this not the case?

(2)(1)

Anonymous

Don’t worry. They’re chatting sh*t. I know.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

There might be some mileage in this if it does pick up some candidates who have ability and would otherwise miss out. The best jobs don’t always go to the best people.

(3)(0)

Another chippy and gauche future trainee

My partner and I met at Cambridge. We actually grew up not too far from each other, in towns on the opposite sides of Oxford. He attended a private school in Oxford, while I attended the state comprehensive in my town.

When I met his school friends for the first time, I met them at a formal at Cambridge. Most of them were studying there, the rest were at Oxford and Durham, and two were at other Russell Groups.

He met my friends in a pub in my hometown. I was the only one to go to Cambridge (in my whole school, that year.) Some of my friends went to Russell groups and some of them went to ex-polys.

Do I believe that my partner’s friends were innately more intelligent than my friends? No, I don’t. They were encouraged and supported to aim for the stars from a young age, while I had to put up with chairs being thrown in the classroom and teachers losing my coursework.

Now, having left Cambridge, nearly everyone I knew at university is going into law, consultancy, banking, medicine. No one I knew from home is, except for me. On my GDL course at the moment, everyone in my tutorial group was privately or grammar educated, except from me.

It does make a difference, and I’m glad that the bar is starting to recognise that.

(21)(25)

Disappointed

Interesting story but 19 negative responses. Snobbery seems to still be very much alive.

(13)(15)

Anonymous

Not snobbery. Realism.

(11)(10)

Anonymous

“Do I believe that my partner’s friends were innately more intelligent than my friends? No, I don’t.”

What a tedious story. It doesn’t matter what you think. Of course, by definition, the Oxbridge people were brighter than those who were non-Oxbridge. And better educated.

(16)(9)

Random passer-by

Just so I understand correctly, a kid with better GCSEs and better A levels studying law at Durham/LSE is less intelligent according to your pathetic metric, than a student an Oxbridge student studying Land Economy, Old Norse and Welsh studies or French. Thanks for clearing that up.

(12)(0)

Anonymous

A Durham undergraduate would not have better grades than an Oxbridge undergraduate. They might possibly have the same grades, but the point of the Oxbridge interview is to determine those who are the very cleverest students. (This principle applies regardless of choice of degree, as what the dons are looking to discern is whether you think and reason in a very sophisticated way.) lf you apply to Oxbridge and fail at interview stage, it is simply because you are not bright enough. The cleverest students will always be those who go to Oxbridge or Cambridge. And they will be the best educated, too.

(4)(1)

Random passer-by

I think you are struggling with basic comprehension. Different degrees at Oxford have different levels of competition and requirements. Law is one of the more competitive degrees. So your point is that someone studying Law or Medicine at another top University is less intelligent than someone at Oxford studying one of the less intelligent subjects. I have worked with modern languages grads from Cambridge who were not as sharp as Warwick economics and mathematics grads I have worked with. Anecdotal evidence but that is my point. I honestly believe that some of you kids are idiots on here. Just go on LinkedIn and look at the profiles. You will see that many Durham and LSE law grads who put all their details on there have stronger school grades than Oxbridge grads. And is ‘cleverest even a word’?

(0)(0)

Anonymous

I don’t agree. I went to Oxbridge and the bottom half of the student body was interchangeable with the better half of the next tier institutions, it was just the luck of the application process. The top 25% at Oxbridge as a group are head and shoulders above the top 25% of any of the next tier as a group, and there lies the difference.

(10)(1)

Random passer-by

Excellent comment. But will fall on deaf ears with most of these idiot teenagers on here. There are Medical students at UCL/KCL/Imperial and even places like Birmingham and Manchester (both with top medical schools) that would wash Theology students from Cambridge. You cannot compare law students at Durham that have perfect academic records to Modern and Medieval Languages students at Oxford. You have to compare like for like. I will say though, that the top 2/3 students in my law cohort at Uni were brilliant and so hardworking, but they are not at the same level as Oxbridge firsts in law that I have encountered in practice (normally instructing barristers). As a solicitor this doesn’t matter too much, but at the bar raw brain power is key and so I totally understand the Oxbridge bias. However there are other skills like advocacy and commerciality and general likeability that may bring in other people too.

(6)(2)

Anonymous

“by definition, the Oxbridge people were brighter than those who were non-Oxbridge”. Would it be too cruel to point out that Theresa May is an Oxford graduate? As a non-Oxbridge comparator, how about, say, Lord Justice Green (Leicester, Toronto and Southampton), or Adrian Newey (Southampton), designer of numerous world beating Formula 1 cars; which of these is brighter?

(2)(0)

Reverse snob

Well said. Private school then a useless degree in Classics or History of Art is all that’s needed for the bar these days. If one has an overinflated sense of ones ability encouraged by tutors at Abingdon and JAGS then that really helps.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

You’ve met me, obviously.

(2)(0)

Anonymous

1025am there are outliers. They are not worth the investment of hunting them out as they are too few and far between. They will rise up through the system in due course.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Intelligent people often, indeed usually, leverage their intelligence to earn more. The high earners are more likely to send their kids to private school. Intelligence is 50% attributable to inherited factors, an uneasy truth for the PC brigade by the science is clear. And then the private schools ship in scholarship kids too, my place was full of them. So of course results are going to be better in the private than state sector. But that does not prove any “advantage” in education, rather private schools start with better raw materials.

(4)(0)

Anonymous

Big firms can take risks hiring a few trainees on a chance they’ll come good because they have so many trainees, and can always filter easily at the end of that stage. A set of chambers may only have 2 or 3 pupils, and a steady feed of quality is important for the set. So I understand why sets have conservative recruitment attitudes, because they do not have the size or number to make the economic risks of a bad decision worthwhile.

(5)(0)

Fillable Hour

One chambers in Temple is almost exclusively White except for just the one member.

Manipulative, snobby virtue signallers. All of them.

(11)(1)

Anonymous

Name it.

(0)(0)

Filable Hour

The chambers of the QC who keeps tweeting about Yemen, anti-Brexit and diversity in the UK. 90k+ tweets all day everyday; if he were prettier he’d been an Instagram ‘influencer’.

He doesn’t answer tweets asking when he’s going to offer pupillage to someone from Yemen.

Unlike him, I’ve been there. Plenty of intelligent, resilient, hard-working Yemenis that would make great barristers. Sad that he doesn’t seem to think of diversity within the context of his own workplace.

(6)(0)

L'Eranger

Hilarious how private school kids think they’re anointed for greatness and that their own innate “talent” outweighs the privilege which has been purchased for them. A product of their education no doubt, which actively promotes a sense of entitlement.

Also ironic how they bellow from the rooftops about the quality of their education, yet cannot understand the simple point that kids from less affluent backgrounds and which attend state schools face significantly greater challenges than they do in achieving top grades. But why acknowledge something designed to rebalance the playing field, when you are the beneficiaries of the existing imbalances?

Ultimately, 20 Essex Street has taken a decision in good faith about how to identify fairly the candidates which they consider to have the potential to be future pupils and tenants. If you don’t like the system, don’t apply there.

(10)(2)

Anonymous

“The simple point that kids from less affluent backgrounds and which attend state schools face significantly greater challenges than they do in achieving top grades.” Nonsense! Just because a clever kid at state school is surrounded at school by lower class drones who are stupid and don’t care does not mean it is harder for that child to perform academically. Where is your evidence for these “significantly greater challenges” because exam papers don’t assess you class, buddy.

(5)(4)

L'Etranger

This sort of response proves the point in my second paragraph.

There are many challenges in this context, but given your attempt to dismiss the proposition in its entirety we can start with a very simple syllogism.

1. High quality teaching – which I define as including the ability of the teacher, facilities, environment, class sizes, access to one-to-one tuition, discipline in the classroom etc – raises a student’s scores in academic tests. For example, a student might receive a B grade if his or her teaching is average; but might receive an A grade if the teaching was excellent.

2. On average, private school institutions offer a greater “quality” of teaching as compared to the “quality” of teaching at a state school. Quality of teaching matters – it is an external factor which can make the difference between grades (such as the example above, with a student going from a B to an A*).

3. If you accept the above propositions (as I think you must), it is inevitable to recognise that a private education gives you an external “bonus” that would not be able to you if you attended a state school / had a lower quality of education. As a result, it will be relatively easier for you to obtain the top grade in academic tests if you attended a private school than if you attended a state school.

State school students have to make up the delta in quality of education. That is a challenge which only they face.

Comments on this forum have made a comparison between two different students, a state school student and a private school student. They have then suggested that if they both get an A grade, their achievements are equal. The flaw in this analysis is that it makes the wrong comparison (see above). It also does not account for the fact that the state school student has either (a) overcome the delta in education and/or (b) had the talent to achieve top grades with a mediocre education. When you are identifying the substance of a candidate for pupillage, both of those things are important and a system which helps to reveal them is therefore to be welcomed.

In contrast, there is a non-trivial possibility that a private school student obtained the A* due to the education “bonus” that an expensive education gives you (which, as per above, is due to the direct correlation between quality of education and exam results). If that student had attended a state school, he or she may have obtained a lower grade (perhaps because he or she did not make up the delta in education or is not naturally talented). Of course, it is also possible that the student would have also achieved an A* at a state school, in which case may answer would be to recognise that achievement in the same way as suggested above.

Importantly, you do not have to attach lead weights to the ankles of private school kids in order to bring state school kids to the surface. All I ask for is a system which recognises the actual context in which these kids are obtaining their results so that we can identify the substance of their achievements. Otherwise, we will continue in a world where the only thing that matters is how much money your family has.

As a final point, there is a whole body of evidence as to the impact of education and funding on student grades so please do have a look if you are interested. If you would like an accessible book on these sorts of issues, try Malcolm Gladwell, “Outliers” – his main point is that the people who are most successful have been given the most opportunities (even if we like to think they are unique and special). It has a section on the difference in readings scores of rich kids and poor kids. E.g. “When it comes to reading skills, poor kids learn nothing when school is not in session. The reading scores of the rich kids, by contrast, go up by a whopping 52.49 points. Virtually all of the advantage that wealthy students have over poor students is the result of differences in the way privileged kids learn while they are not in school.”

(2)(1)

Anonymous

So your “evidence” is a Malcolm Gladwell quote and a bunch of assumptions that do not address the point that was made. You have no evidence. Even the data Gladwell quotes does not look at the long or even mid term reading effects – I’ll tell you the data is that the difference is far less than the numbers you quote. And second that data takes into account all state school children not just the cleverest ones, the figures being dragged down by stupid kids. Remember IQ is 50% inherited.

(3)(2)

L'Etranger

Oh dear. I said there is a whole body of evidence (there is, if you care to do your research); the Gladwell book was an “accessible book on these sorts of issues”. If you cannot even understand the words I am using, or perhaps intentionally misreading them, how can we have a discussion about substance?

The Gladwell reference demonstrates that results are impacted by external factors, such as the amount of attention given to children’s reading in the holidays. The difference in the data was largely driven by class / affluence, rather than intelligence.

(2)(1)

Anonymous

You have cited no evidence that bright kids in the state sector face any challenges.

(1)(0)

Anonymous

Doesn’t seem you’ve actually read the post above. Or, perhaps more accurately, cannot answer any of the points.

Private school students are ruddy special, you know, chaps. Tally Ho!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Basically the argument from Anonymous above (at 1:33) is that the quality of an education has no impact on academic performance. Which shows the person is either a troll or stupid. Perhaps both.

(1)(3)

Anonymous

The poster provided no evidence as to the difference in the quality of education.

Yawn

I was going to post the same thing but couldn’t be bothered. The kid is stupid or trolling.

Richy Rich

You haven’t cited evidence that they haven’t cited evidence!

(0)(0)

Anonymous

We had a pupil who turned up for the Christmas dinner in a ready made bow tie. There was no way back from that.

(11)(2)

Anonymous

Penile person.

(0)(1)

Anonymous

I think your conclusion was a touch harsh on the chap. It was just he lacked even the basic standards of etiquette one would expect. It was after all, a huge red flag. I should add he wore an attached wing collar too.

(5)(0)

Anonymous

BRING

BACK

GRAMMAR

SCHOOLS.

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Deleted a comment that named a set of chambers in London that has only 1 member who isn’t White.

Why do facts make some people so angry?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

Maybe some of them identify as other races?

(3)(0)

Anonymous

When it was suggested in Chambers that we use “institution blind” applications in interviews I thought they meant we weren’t going to be told which college at Cambridge or Oxford to which applicants went. I felt a bit uneasy at that proposal. But then I found out that they meant we were not going to be told what university they attended! Imagine that nonsense, and what one might end up with. Thankfully the idea was scotched without too much fuss.

(10)(0)

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