Date range
6 October 2021, 11:00am to 6 October 2021, 12:00pm
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Join us for our next Dialogue & Debate webinar, at 11am on Wednesday 6 October, exploring educational inequalities in the UK.

We examine what this summer’s grade inflation reveals about inequalities within our education system, across private schools and selective and non-selective state schools. We discuss what a sustainable and inclusive schooling system might look like, and what needs to be done to ensure that all young people are given a fair opportunity to flourish.

Our guest panellists include:

What will we be discussing?

When teacher-assessed grades for GCSEs and A-levels were announced this summer, the greatest leaps in attainment were seen in the private school system. At A-level, analysis released by the exams regulator showed a 9.3 percentage point rise in the total number of A and A* grades issued to independent school pupils, which was higher than for state comprehensives (6.2%), academies (5.7%) and grammars (7.5%). State grammar schools in England were by far the most successful overall, at GCSE, with more than 68% of entries graded Grade 7 or above, compared to 61% in independent schools and 26% at state comprehensives. We look at why this might be, and explore the longer-term inequalities in our education system that lie behind growing disparities.

As the former education recovery commissioner for England, Sir Kevan Collins, put it, there is a ‘huge risk’ of widening social gaps in education in the aftermath of COVID-19. Will the past year affect the number and demographic profile of young people going into higher education? How can we pursue more equal opportunities for disadvantaged pupils who suffered a greater loss of learning and social support during the pandemic, to reduce inequalities?

This year’s results days also triggered fresh debate about whether private and state grammar schools exacerbate issues of elitism and class division, and ought to be abolished. A study by the Sutton Trust and the Social Mobility Commission found that over half of senior judges in the UK have come through the private school to Oxbridge ‘pipeline’. The same report revealed that 57% of Members of the House of Lords are privately educated, despite only 7% of British secondary school pupils being receiving private schooling.

We ask, what can be done to close the attainment gap between independent, state selective, and other state school or college pupils, in terms of exam results, career progression and life chances? To what extent are widening access initiatives, such as private-school bursary systems and scholarships, bridging the divide?

How to register

Please register in advance to receive joining details for this webinar, using this link:

You will be sent a link to join us live on Zoom (as a non-video participant) and interact with our panel by submitting questions using the Q&A function. All you need is an internet connection, a screen to watch it on - on PC or mobile device - and your speakers switched on.

If you prefer, you can watch the webinar live on this webpage or via Facebook Live, and submit your questions by tweeting us @CumberlandLodge or commenting on our Facebook livestream.

Dialogue & Debate with Cumberland Lodge is a series of interactive webinars on pressing issues affecting social cohesion in the UK, which is supported by our charitable funds.

On demand

A video recording of this webinar will be shared after the event on the Read, Watch, Listen section of this website. You will also find an audio-only version on all the major podcasting channels and on our SoundCloud channel here, shortly after the live-stream.

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